What happensif a seller lies on a property disclosure statement?

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What happensif a seller lies on a property disclosure statement?

My wife and I recently bought a home that was built 132 years ago; we closed last month. We had a backup issue with the sewer line and paid to have it snaked. All seemed well until 2 weeks later it happened again just a few days ago. The second time the plumber came out he said he could not get through the clog. I called the county to check their end and they told me I have underground power lines running through my sewer line. I called emergency locate and began to dig at the spot I knew the sewer and power cross, and sure enough main power lines through the sewer. Sellers had to be aware but said “No”.

Asked on June 29, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Georgia

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In order to determine if the seller "lied" on the disclosure statement and if the "lie" is actionable, you need to determine a few things.  Generally a seller has the duty to disclose all existing material facts not reasonably ascertainable to the purchaser. The duty to disclose arises only where the seller has knowledge of the defect, the defect is dangerous to the property, health or life of the purchaser, the defect is unknown to the purchaser, and a careful, reasonable inspection by the purchaser would not disclose the defect.  A fact is material to the extent that it substantially affects adversely the value of the property or operates to materially impair or defeat the purpose of the transaction.  A seller is not required to disclose past defects, which, to the best of the seller's knowledge, have corrected. If the purchase is aware of the existence of a defect, the burden of determining the extent of the defect is on the purchaser by making appropriate inquiry, investigation and inspection, and there is no duty on the seller to volunteer further information. Check with an attorney in your area.  Good luck.


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