Failure to Disclose Property Defects in Real Estate
The purchase of real estate is perhaps the most significant financial investment of a lifetime. There is a strong emotional attachment to real estate as it signifies a new beginning for a buyer. After having carefully researched and inspected a property, a buyer feels confident as they close the sale and enter into ownership. Eventually, the buyer may discover that there are undisclosed defects which affect the property value or prevent the property from being used for its intended purpose. What is the legal recourse for damages from the buyer after-the-fact?
Real estate law in the State of Florida requires the seller of a property to disclose significant material defects that affect the property’s market value. If the seller has not disclosed defects, either by failing to remember or by deliberate concealment, the buyer is entitled to monetary damages. Even if real property is sold “as is,” the buyer is culpable for damages if they have not complied with full disclosure. For example, after the sale of a property, a buyer may find a damaged roof or water seepage, mold, or septic problems that were not obvious at the time of purchase. There may be environmental issues, such as radon gas, a history of sinkholes, zoning violations, boundary disputes, or coastal erosion.
The Boutty Law Firm P.A. Protects its Clients’ Interests
The purchase of real estate has many complexities. When entrenched in a dispute regarding a failure to disclose property defects, it is in the buyer’s best interest to hire an attorney with substantial real estate experience. The Boutty Law Firm P.A. handles all aspects of real estate and construction law. Our skilled attorneys offer compassionate legal representation for disputes in negotiations, mediation, or courtroom litigation. We have a strong presence and can find practical solutions or powerful advocacy in the courtroom.
In a Court of Law, the Elements of a Non-Disclosure Case are:
- The seller must know about the defect.
- The defect must affect the market value of the property.
- The buyer must have evidence that the seller failed to disclose the defect.
- The defect must not be readily observable to the buyer.
Although not required by law, many real estate transactions utilize a Florida Disclosure Form to sell a property. It is critical that the buyer and the seller document defects, which become enforceable in the event of a dispute. Some of the items addressed in a Florida Disclosure Form are issues related to the structure of the building, pest infestation, water intrusion, plumbing, roofing, sinkholes, and environmental defects. The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 is a Federal law that protects the buyer regarding the presence of lead-based paint in a property if built before 1978.
Boutty Law Firm P.A. Serves Central Florida and the Surrounding Areas
In any real estate transaction, the purchase documents are your legal safeguards for the protection of the buyer and the seller. To prevent disputes, The Boutty Law Firm P.A. will review and scrutinize real estate contracts for legal risks. Undisclosed property defects that the buyer discovers after the purchase of real estate is a breach of contract, and you have legal rights. Call our Maitland, Florida office at 407-622-1395 for a free initial consultation to discuss an undisclosed defect dispute or any real estate law aspect.