What is my recourse against previous owner

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What is my recourse against previous owner

I purchased a home a couple of years back. I had a home inspection done. I went to remodel the kitchen but the contractor found extensive termite damage and previous fire damage that was not disclosed. The contractor says I need to remove that portion of the house and have it rebuilt due to the fact that there is major damage to all studs and rafters. The cost of this fix is $60,000. The purchase price was only $72,000. What is my remedy for this?

Asked on January 23, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

IF the prior seller knew of structural or other significant damage or a termite infestation and failed to disclose it, that failure to disclose a known significant problem could be fraud; and fraud would provide a basis to sue for compensation (e.g. repair costs). Two major issues:
1) First, the statute of limitations, or time period within which you must start a suit, for fraud in your state is 6 years; if it's been longer than that since you bought the house, you might  not be able to take legal action.
2) Second, you must prove that the seller knew, or reasonably must have known (logically, given the facts, any homeowner in his situation logically would have known) of the problem, since fraud is based on lying. If the seller did not know (for example, this happened to a previous owner, and this seller never found out), he did not commit fraud and would not be liable.


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