If we had a serious water leak from the 2nd floor into the downstairs a week after we moved into newly purchased home, can we hold the seller responsible for damage/repair?

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If we had a serious water leak from the 2nd floor into the downstairs a week after we moved into newly purchased home, can we hold the seller responsible for damage/repair?

We noticed water leaked through the ceiling from our upstairs bathroom (after a long shower) to the downstairs living room, causing a long crack on the ceiling and a big puddle of water on the floor. Home inspectors did not notice any water leakage sign during inspection but our termite inspector pointed out some minor water stain on the ceiling. Back then we asked the seller if there was any problem with water leakage and their answer was no. We did not pursue further. Now, do we have a case to hold the seller responsible for paying for the repair?

Asked on December 7, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If the seller either knew or should have known of the leak but misrepresented (lied) about it, then you would have a case, based in fraud (fraud is the knowing misrepresentation of a material fact) to recover compensation. But you have to be able to show that either they did know of the leak or should have known (e.g. if there was water damage which was clearly painted over a month before the sale, that would be powerful eveidence of knowledge). If they did not know of a leak or condition, or if the leak or condition developed after the sale, they would not be resonsible.


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