What is the statute of limitations to sue a seller for non-disclosure of a mold issue?

UPDATED: Mar 31, 2012

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What is the statute of limitations to sue a seller for non-disclosure of a mold issue?

I purchased a rental property 8 years ago “as is”. The seller provided a termite inspection that showed some minor mold issues around the bathroom door (ventilation problem). Since that’s all that was reported, I decided against a mold inspection. However, 2 years later mold started to appear inside the bedroom walls. Thinking it was due to an old leak, I rebuilt both bathrooms. But it came back again and again. I now have confirmation the seller knew about it but hid it with new flooring and paint. My tenant happens to work with the seller’s family who lived there and they were advised to move out ASAP. Do I have recourse since they knew of the condition but did not disclose it to me?

Asked on March 31, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It is probably too late to bring a lawsuit. The statute of limitations, or time to sue, for breach of a contract (like the contract of sale for the property) in CA is only four years. The statute of limitations for fraud (e.g. knowing misrepresentation of a material, or critical, fact) is only three years. Therefore, it would appear that you are beyond the relevant statutory periods, which means that it is too late to sue.

That said, sometimes the statutue can be "tolled," or extended, if there was no reasonable way to know of the breach or cause of action earlier. You may wish to consult in detail about the situation with an attorney, to see if the facts give you any grounds for taking action after so many years.

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