If you purchased your perfect home with your partner and found out it had major flaws once you moved in, your recourse will depend on a variety of factors. Most states have laws that prohibit sellers from hiding major defects from buyers. Generally, major defects include plumbing and sewage, water leakage, termites, roofing, heating and air conditioning systems, property drainage, foundation, title problems and lead paint. Following are 6 tips for handling undisclosed house defects.
1. The first step is to review the seller’s disclosure form and read your home inspection report if you have one. There have been instances where the buyer missed the disclosure in the excitement of the purchase. If you find that the problem was in fact disclosed, it will be up to you to pay for the repairs.
2. If the defect was not disclosed, document the problem, take pictures, and obtain estimates of the repair costs.
3. If you had a home inspection completed before purchasing the home, you should contact the inspector. If he or she missed problems that should have been found by an expert, he or she may be liable for the repairs.
4. Contact the real estate agent that assisted you with the purchase. He or she can review your evidence and let you know about some of the options that you may have. For example, he or she may be able to resolve the issue the seller, or refer you to an experienced LGBT attorney if needed.
5. Contact the seller and/or his agent and request that the defects be repaired at his or her expense. You may want to hire an attorney to send the seller a letter outlining the defects and the remedies that are being sought by you, the buyer. If the seller declares that he was not aware of the defects and refuses to pay for the repair, your only recourse is to file a lawsuit against him. In order to succeed, you will need to prove that the owner knew or should have known about the defect. For example, the seller patched over the problem or neighbors informed you of the difficulty that the seller had in dealing with the issue while he or she lived there.
6. Contact a real estate attorney for advice and assistance in filing a lawsuit in a court of law. If the court finds in your favor, you could recover the cost of repairing the defect and any other damages resulting from the defect, attorney fees and costs of filing the suit, and punitive damages if the court finds that the failure to disclose was fraudulent. The court may also rescind or invalidate the sale and return the property to the seller.
In order to avoid purchasing a home with undisclosed defects, it would be wise to hire a reputable LGBT real estate agent to assist you. He or she is a professional and is trained to spot any inconsistencies in the documentation and to let you know your options. Many times, issues with a home can be worked out prior to the sale to the satisfaction of both the seller and the buyer. A professional, trustworthy LGBT real estate agent located in your area can be found by conducting a search on GayRealEstate.com.