Can I Sue My Home Seller for Defects Found Post-Closing?
Under Maryland law, a home seller must provide a buyer with certain assurances regarding the condition of the property. If a buyer discovers defects on their property after closing, their ability to sue for compensation will depend on various circumstances. For example, if the seller purposely concealed a termite infestation, this could make them liable for a defect. If you discovered a defect in your home post-closing, you should contact an experienced Towson termite damage lawyer today. At Whitney, LLP, we are prepared to help you file a claim against a home seller that attempted to conceal a material defect. Our lawyers are here to explain whether you can sue your home seller for defects found post-closing.
When is a Home Seller Liable for Defects Discovered After Closing?
A home seller can be liable for a defect discovered after closing under certain circumstances. In Maryland, a seller is required to complete one of the following two forms when selling a single-family home or condominium unit: a Residential Property Disclosure Statement or a Residential Property Disclaimer Statement.
The disclosure statement asks detailed questions regarding the condition of a property. For example, the form requests information about the existence of hazardous material like asbestos or whether the property has a termite infestation. If a property has a defect that the seller is aware of but does not disclose, this can lead to a claim of fraud.
Additionally, some sellers enlist the aid of an inspection company to check the condition of a home. If the inspection company fails to detect a serious defect or conceals a defect, the seller may be held liable under certain circumstances. For example, if a seller hires an inspection company they believe is unethical in order to save money, they may be liable for defects the inspector failed to catch. The buyer should also consider hiring their own inspector to investigate the property’s condition.
The disclaimer statement is a document that allows a seller to sell their property “as is.” This means that the seller does not make any warranties or representations regarding the status of the property or any defects on the property. However, even if a seller uses a disclaimer, they must still disclose the existence of a material defect. A material defect is a serious issue that may be hazardous to the health and safety of the home’s occupants, or that may cause a buyer a substantial amount of money for repairs.
A seller may hide the existence of a defect for several reasons. For example, the defect may drastically decrease the value of the home, and they do not want to repair the issue. The seller may also believe they can evade liability for the defect once the purchase is complete. A material defect may grant you the opportunity to receive compensation for the issue despite only detecting it post-closing.
It is important to note that not every issue can be considered a material defect. For example, if the air conditioning system does not reach every area of the home, this may not be considered a material defect. Also, if a defect occurred soon after you moved into the property, a seller may not be considered the cause of the defect.
To learn more about liability for property defects, you should contact an experienced Maryland termite litigation attorney today.
When to File a Lawsuit for Failure to Disclose
The type of claim you may file against a seller for failure to disclose a defect will depend on the circumstances of your case. For example, if the seller did not disclose the defect because they did not perform a thorough inspection of the property, this will likely lead to a claim of negligence. If a seller could not reasonably locate the defect, this may make it difficult to prove negligence.
Alternatively, if the seller intentionally hid the existence of a material defect, you may have a valid claim for fraud. One way to determine if a defect was concealed is to hire an inspection company and compare their findings to that of the seller or the seller’s inspector. If the defect was easily discovered, this might help you prove that the seller intended to hide the defect.
Our Maryland Material Defect Attorneys are Ready to Help You Build Your Claim
If you suffered losses because a seller failed to disclose a defect on your property, you should consult with an experienced termite inspection attorney. The dedicated attorneys at Whitney, LLP have extensive experience litigating a wide range of property defect cases. We understand how upsetting it can be to discover a defect in your new home and we are here to fight for you. Our firm will help you pursue compensation from a seller that failed to disclose a serious defect. To schedule a consultation to discuss your potential claim, call us at (410) 583-8000, or contact us online.