I’m Eric Lanigan of Lanigan and Lanigan attorneys in Winter Park, Florida. As we continue this series on the seller’s property disclosure form, I will answer a seller’s question about the legal remedies the buyer has if the seller fails to disclose a problem with the home.
Non-disclosure May Result in Legal Action
Q: What legal options does the buyer have against me if I didn’t disclose a problem?
Well that gets back to the answer to the original question. From a practical standpoint, it’s going to depend upon the significance of the problem but in a purely technical standpoint what are his legal options?
His legal options are to make a claim against you as the seller, the realtor, the home inspector claiming that any or all of you knew or should have known that the problem existed. Those are his options.
And most of them will try to get a resolution without going to court and in many cases if that can be done it’s certainly the recommended course of action because obviously if it gets into litigation it’s going to get very expensive for everybody.
I had a case recently just in the past couple of weeks where someone contacted me and they were the seller of property and it was a condominium a high rise on the beach and after the people moved in, they moved in they found water damage the padding under the carpet in one of the rooms was wet when they took it out to replace the carpeting, etc.
And they were in that case demanding rescission of the contract and rescission means to rescind the contract put everybody back where they were before the deal was made and I made it very clear to the seller that rescission was not going to be a viable remedy for the buyer.
That sounded to me more like somebody who had buyers remorse and is now looking to find a way to get out of a deal which for other reasons they now regret that they have made.
In order for a buyer to get rescission, the problem is going to have to be very significant and he’s going to have to show that he was fraudulently induced into making the deal. That’s going to be very rare. What you’re generally going to find is the buyer is going to be limited to and generally seeking the cost of repair or diminished value.
In the final part of this three part series, I will answer questions relating to the home inspector and his findings.