Hidden defects real estate property
By Peter van Dort – Partner Liance Law Firm (June 20, 2018)
Our firm very often receives questions about who is liable for hidden defects to a sold house or other real estate property. Below you will find a brief explanation on this subject.
The seller of a house has a duty of disclosure, meaning he has the obligation to provide a (prospective) buyer with detailed information and to report known defects. It is not necessary, however, to report clearly visible defects, which could have been seen and noted during an inspection of the house by the buyer. The buyer has a duty to investigate, meaning he has the obligation to inspect the condition of the house, especially if there is reason for doubt. Hence, it is always advisable to have a structural inspection carried out and a report made up by an independent professional.
When it concerns hidden defects, the question whether the seller of the house is liable is not always easy to answer and the answer always depends on the specific circumstances of the case. In general, the house must have those characteristics required for a ‘normal’ use thereof as well as those characteristics the buyer could expect based on the sale and purchase agreement. The agreement may contain special clauses that limit the liability of the seller. For example, the agreement could include an ‘old age’ clause, indicating that the buyer may not have the same expectations of the house as a newer home. On the other hand, the agreement can also contain additional guarantees for the buyer. For example, the agreement may state that the seller guarantees that the land belonging to the house is not contaminated. Hence, it is very important to pay attention to special clauses and guarantees as they may limit or increase your liability.
Liance Law is very experienced in advising on and litigating in the area of real estate law, including cases concerning hidden defects. Please feel free to contact Peter van Dort via firstname.lastname@example.org or +5999 5133 678.