What to do about a fraudulent home inspection?

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What to do about a fraudulent home inspection?

I have been in my house for about 6 years this August. We had problems with the roof leaking not even a year after we moved in. The insurance company would not pay for it because they said it was preexisting condition from wear and tear. The inspection said that the roof was only 5 years old. We have had 3 different leaks in 3 different parts of

the ceiling in our house. There is no way a 5 year old roof should be leaking like this. Our home owners insurance company has dropped us and no one will pick us up until a new roof is put on. I think a fraudulent home inspection was done and they just did patch work to pass. What can I do about this?

Asked on November 4, 2016 under Real Estate Law, South Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Fraud is an intentional lie: to win a fraud case, you'd have to show that the inspector deliberately lied (not merely was wrong), which can be very difficult to prove.
As a general matter, you can often sue a professional for being unreasonably careless (negligent; essentially, malpractice) in how they did their job, but you'd have to have evidence they were unreasonably careless. For example, you'd need another inspector or knowledgeable/roofing contractor to inspect your roof and show not only that it is more than 5 years old, but that a reasonable home inspector, doing the sort of inspection normally done, would have seen that it was older and/or seen obvious signs of some previous leaks or other issues. Without some other knoweldgeable professional providing an expert opinion as to the inspector's negligence, you would not be able to prove your case--that fact that you, as a layperson, think that a 5-year-old roof would not leak like this is not relevant and would not persuade a court; you need evidence.
Moreover, people can limit their ability to sue in a contract, and while such limitations are not absolute (there are situations, like fraud or other deliberate wrongful acts where you can get around them), such as limitation of liability is generally valid and can substantially limit your abilty to sue (or if you can sue, what you could win--often, you are limited to getting your money back). Review your contract or service agreement with the inspector to see if and to what extent you contractually agreed to limit or give up your ability to sue.


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