Did You Buy A Home With A Hidden Horror? Find Out If You Can Sue.

Imagine that you just bought your dream home - only to find out that there is something horribly wrong with it. Worse yet, you find out that the previous seller, or the seller's agent, knew about the problem and never told you. Are you entitled to sue either the seller or the agent? Read more to find out.

Disclosure statements exist to make sure everyone is well informed.

Disclosure laws vary from state to state, but they are basically plain-language statements that sellers are required to complete in order to inform potential buyers about any past or current problems with a property. For example, depending on where you live, a seller might need to disclose anything from termite treatments performed decades ago to lead paint in the basement. 

One example is a seller who neglected to tell the buyer that the property was being stalked by someone with an unusual and dangerous-sounding obsession over the house. The sale went through, and the new owner began receiving threatening letters from the unidentified source. Since the previous owner knew about the issue but didn't disclose it, the two parties are now in litigation.

Had the seller informed the buyer about the stalker in a disclosure statement and the buyer proceeded with the transaction, the buyer would be out of luck. If you buy a property even though you've been notified of a problem, you buy the problem as well.

Read through your disclosure agreement carefully and see if the issue is addressed.

Before you can figure out if you can sue or not, re-read your disclosure agreement carefully. Make sure that the problem wasn't actually disclosed - many people get excited when buying a house and you may have overlooked something that seemed trivial at the time.

If the problem wasn't plainly disclosed, however, you still may or may not have a case. A lot depends on what the issue actually is (or what you can actually prove).

For example, if your main sewer line backs up into the basement barely a month after you buy the home, it could just be coincidental timing. If the disclosure report says nothing about the plumbing, your home inspection didn't reveal any problems, and there's no evidence that the former owners ever had the same problem, then the situation is just an unfortunate aspect of home ownership.

However, what if your neighbor sees the plumbing truck outside of your house and mentions to you that the former owners had had the same problem several times before and knew that the pipeline to the street was in disrepair? In that case, you certainly would have cause for action.

Also, be on the watch for "sneaky" disclosures. For example, the seller might have disclosed the previous times the sewer had backed up but indicated that the issue was "repaired." What they actually meant, of course, is that they had the plumbers out to clear the line enough to keep it working again for a while, knowing full well that an expensive overhaul of the plumbing was actually needed. That's also a cause for action on your part.

A lot of times you won't have to go all the way to court to settle the problem. A professional attorney, like Iannello Anderson, can help you try to negotiate a fair settlement with the seller so that you can get back to enjoying your new home.