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we received water damage in the basement 2 weeks after we moved in. we are buying the house. we need to know how to go about making the people that owned the house before us pay is for the damages. also we need to know how long we have to do something about it legally.
Asked on June 17, 2009 under Real Estate Law, South Dakota
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 12 years ago | Contributor
Do you already own the home? If so, and if the water damage was not caused by some condition that the previous owners (1) knew about, (2) deliberately hid from you, and (3) which was not readily discernable or findable during the home inspection, then you can't collect from them. It's your home and you've taken possession of it; the home inspection was your chance to find problems and either back out of the deal or get the seller to repair it (or credit you for repair costs). That's why, if you already own the home, you'd have have be able to show fraud on the seller's part--again, that they deliberately hid a problem from you, and you had no opportunity (including through the inspection) to find it--in order to sue them.
If you don't already own the home--if the deal hasn't closed--then it's the seller's responsibilty now, though if they refuse to fix it, your remedy may be to void the deal and walk away.
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