So you just bought that beautiful contemporary home that looks just like the one on HGTV! But wait, you moved in and you noticed that the roof leaks! What do you do!? The seller may be responsible for anything that wasn’t disclosed during escrow.
Sellers of residential real estate have a duty to disclose any material defect in a property that they know, or have reason to suspect, exists. Non-disclosure is a misrepresentation. See Calemine v. Samuelson (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 153, 161.
Remember the 1,000 pages of documents you went through during escrow? One key document in that stack is the “Seller Property Questionnaire.” This document is a punch list of virtually every aspect of the home. If a Seller knows or has reason to suspect any issues with these items, they must disclose that to the purchaser. The form goes through whether the property was used for illegal purposes, whether there are title issues and whether there are problems with the structure, systems, etc.
Any and all known issues with the property should be listed by the seller here. For example, if they know that a tree has grown into the foundation causing damage, they must list it. If they know that the roof leaks, they must list it. If they know that the next door neighbor has weekly fraternity parties, they must list it.
The Transfer Disclosure Statement is also your friend. It contains a myriad of items that the seller must go through and “certify” that there are no problems.
Free Advice: Get an inspection, thoroughly review the inspection results, thoroughly review the Seller Properly Questionnaire and thoroughly review the Transfer Disclosure Statement.
If the seller knew of your leaking roof and didn’t disclose it, you may have a case.
So who do we sue?
In buyer-seller litigation, there are several parties to the lawsuit. First and foremost, you sue the seller.
Though the seller is the primary wrongdoer, the seller’s agent can also be held responsible. Pursuant to Civil Code section 2079, et seq., if a realtor knows of any defects in the property, even if the seller does not disclose, the agent has to.
That’s not all! Each realtor typically works under a broker. That broker can also be sued! Code of Regulations section 2725 says that all brokers must exercise reasonable supervision over the activities of all realtors employed by them. That means, the broker has to have rules and restrictions in place to try and avoid situations of non-disclosure and thoroughly and carefully review each transaction.
That’s not all (again)! In most escrows, the buyer gets an inspection done. In very rare situations, if that inspector doesn’t catch something that they were hired to catch, you can sue them!
What do we want?
In these cases, we want to made whole. If you bought a home and the roof leaks, we want to get you the money to fix it. In most cases, we also want to get you your attorney’s fees!
The statute of limitations in cases like these can range from 2 to 10 years depending on the circumstances.
Call Fry Law Corporation to see if you have case.