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Scott W. Campbell

Scott Campbell’s Answers

1 total

  • Does responsibility for disclosure and repair of serious problems extend through multiple sales?

    Is it possible to review the disclosure form, regarding the condition of a home, that was submitted for a previous sale? Is it possible to recover costs related to problems that were improperly repaired and were covered up prior to that previ...

    Scott’s Answer

    Let’s call the three successive owners Owners 1, 2 and 3. I’m assuming you’re Owner 3.

    You can review the disclosure by Owner 1 to Owner 2, but you have no claim against Owner 1 under the disclosure because you have no legal relationship with him. As we lawyers would say, you lack “contractual privity” with Owner 1. If Owner 2 kept the disclosure form, you can get it from him. If no one will give it to you voluntarily, you can get it several ways if you start a lawsuit.

    As for the problems that were improperly repaired and then covered up, several possibilities exist. It sounds like Owner 1 knew of the problems but did not disclose them and that Owner 2 truly did not know of the problems (and so could not and did not disclose them). Of course, if Owner 2 did disclose them to you, you were put on notice and probably have no claim. If Owner 2 knew of the problems and did not disclose to you, you should pursue Owner 2. If, as your question suggests, Owner 2 did not know and was justified in not disclosing, you could take an assignment of Owner 2’s claims against Owner 1 and pursue Owner 1 (assuming the statute of limitations has not run on that claim). However, if Owner 2 paid fair market value and got fair market value for the house from you, Owner 2 may have suffered no monetary damages from the problems and thus may have no damages claim against Owner 1.

    As for other routes, if a contractor did the crummy work for Owner 1, there might still be claims against the contractor, which Owner 1 could assign to you. If a real estate agent was part of a cover-up, there could be claims there. You might also have a claim against your house inspector (depending on whether the problems were so well hidden that the inspector couldn’t reasonably detect them), but his contract probably limits his liability to the cost of his services.

    Good luck.

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