Sellers committed fraud

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Sellers committed fraud

I purchased a home 2 years ago. Supposedly had a 4 pt inspection. Approximately 3 weeks later a major leak was discovered. While checking out we found alot of black mold. They did a sloppy job with friends doing a roof over without fixing the leak first.I tried for over a year to get an attorney and/or help with fixing the problem. Nothing, I had to move out with my children because I became ill because of all the mold. In foreclosure, this deal made me sick, still have a bad cough, and ruined my credit. Basically homeless. On disability and can’t afford the high rent. Oh, my real estate agent lied about the inspection. My insurance refused to help.

Asked on January 26, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If you believe that the evidence shows that the seller knew or logically must of known of the problem but concealed it--and if there was a "sloppy job . . . doing a roof over," then the seller very likely did know of the condition and fail to disclose it--you could sue him for fraud for the costs directly and logically flowing out of the concealment, such as the cost to remediate the mold condition and the leak. Fraud is the deliberate misrepresentation (or lying about) material (or significant) problems made to induce (cause) you to enter into a transaction or do something (like buy the house). You may also be able to sue the realtor, too, if you can show that she also actually knew of a problem or issue and lied about it. The statute of limitions, or time within which you must file or start a fraud lawsuit, in your state is 4 years, so you appear to still be well within time to do this; and if you can't find an attroney to help, you have the right to file lawsuit yourself, as your own attorney, or "pro se." 
But the limitation is that the court will only grant you the costs which essentially *anyone* would have incurred, and which are not related to your personal financial or health situation, and also requires you to take the least costly response (i.e. will typically only award compensation for the least costly response). The court could easily conclude that it was unnecessary to move out of a house you'd bought and potentially incur high rent, when instead you should have brought in contractors to fix the problem; the court will also certainly not give you anything related to your default and foreclosure, since that's not the seller's fault; that's a function of your own economics or financial situation. It is likely that the repair/remediation cost is all you could get.


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