Sellers’ Non-Disclosure of House Defects
A common source of conflict in real estate litigation is a seller’s failure to disclose housing defects to prospective buyers. When putting a house on the market, it is the seller’s responsibility to formally make buyers aware of any existing or potential problems in the structure, systems, or foundation; formal disclosure means it will be discussed with the prospective buyers through writing. However, many sellers may feel that the obligation to disclose is a chore that decreases the likelihood of purchase. Despite this hesitation to disclose, most states mandate that property sellers have a legal responsibility to make housing defects known, or else they risk potential lawsuits and charges of fraud. Disclosing defects in a house may seem like a burden, but complete transparency when selling a house actually serves to protect both sides in a real estate transaction.
Common Conditions Covered by Disclosure Law
Some homeowners are unsure which conditions they are required to disclose as the law certainly does not require that you put every dent and scratch in writing; a good rule of thumb to follow is you should disclose defects you feel might be important enough that they may affect a buyer’s decision to purchase. These defects may include:
- Illicit activity that may have taken place in the home
- Termites, bugs, and other pest infestations
- Presence of asbestos, mold, or other toxic minerals
- Roofing defects
- Damage to sewer system, drainage, or plumbing
- Foundation cracks and structural instability
- Presence of lead paint
- Ongoing disputes with neighbors
- Issues concerning structural boundaries and property encroachment
- Issues with heating and air conditioning systems
- Issues concerning legal title to property
Sellers who willfully fail to disclose housing defects upon purchase are susceptible to lawsuits from the buyer. If the court rules in favor of the buyer, sellers may be forced to make payments for reparations to the property, reimburse of legal fees accrued by the buyer, cover any punitive damages, and – in serious cases – rescind the house sale.
Contact a Real Estate Attorney in Plano
When you obtain new ownership of a home, it can be infuriating to discover the presence of structural defects purposefully concealed from you at the time of purchase. At Gagnon, Peacock & Vereeke, P.C., our Plano real estate lawyers believe sellers who deceive prospective buyers into purchase should be held accountable for their silence. If you or someone you know is a victim of a seller’s non-disclosure of housing defects, reach out to our Plano offices at (214) 824-1414 to discuss your case.