Who is liable when sellers hire the listing agent’s handyman to do repair work and the repair has been fraudulent?

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Who is liable when sellers hire the listing agent’s handyman to do repair work and the repair has been fraudulent?

2 years ago the sellers disclosed a rotted floor under the toilet do to an old leak that had been repaired. The sellers agreed to repair this in the agreement before purchase and hired the listing agent’s handyman to do a reinforcement under the house. The handyman did no such repair and produced fraudulent photos given to the sellers and buyer. Now this has come to light and the toilet is falling through the floor. Repair will cost much much more and involves removing and replacing entire bathroom floor costing around $2,000-$4,000.

Asked on October 17, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Oklahoma

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

How terrible.  I am assuming that you are asking "who to sue" really in this question. Honestly, I would name everyone: the seller, the handyman and the listing agent in the suit, although I think that it would be hard for you to prove that the listing agent knew or should have known of the fraud or that they were in some way involved in the fraud. It may, though, give you some leverage against the handyman by having the agent there. Your direct action is against the seller who promised to repair and not really with the handyman.  But I would bring himin to the matter anyway as the seller is going to have a suit against him.  And you could claim that you were the "third party beneficiary" to the contract between them thereby giving rise to your ability to sue him directly.  Good luck to you.


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