Can we sue prior owners for lying on disclosure statement?

Asked over 1 year ago - Lancaster, NY

The sellers stated that they had the septic pumped in spring 2012 and frequency of pumping was every 2 years (this is what they wrote on disclosure statement). We closed in August 2012 and by September there were and have since been problems. Our neighbor told us that when the dye test was done the owners ran the water down the driveway and not into the septic. The 1st septic company we had here had just so happened to be here in 2009 for the sellers and had informed them that their system was in rough shape and overtaken by roots and needed to be pumped. This company wrote up a sheet for us stating our system had not been pumped in several years. I spoke to the man from the health dept who did the test and the sellers told him they had not pumped in 7 years. They lied can we sue?

Attorney answers (5)

  1. Jack Richard Lebowitz

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You'd have to retain a lawyer to do some research because usually those representations may be barred by your own inspections and the closing of title except for certain exemptions for "environmental conditions" like hazardous waste disposal and petroleum spills or tank leaks, but lying on a disclosure statement may be actionable if the lies were blatant and false and the former owners knew or should have known those representations about the septic system were false or negligent of the true factual disclosure. Worth a couple of hours of attorney research and seeing whether there is any case law on point. What are the damages to fix? Perhaps a small claims action in the $3,000 - $5,000 jurisdictional range may work for you (the amount depends on local court jurisdiction in your area, whether it's a city/village or Town).

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  2. Jayson Lutzky

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Yes you can sue. But first speak to a real estate lawyer to determine if it is worth it. What will it cost to litigate versus what can you recover and what are the chances of winning.

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  3. Joseph Allen Bollhofer

    Contributor Level 12

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Yes, you can sue. Based on your facts, it is likely you will be successful. You will still need to prove your damages, however.

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  4. Richard J. Chertock

    Pro

    Contributor Level 17

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Yes you can sue under the property condition disclosure act. Hire a real estate litigator as soon as possible.

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  5. Michael C. Wild

    Contributor Level 13

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . I have experience with this type of case. A case like you describe is fact dependent, and the legal standard is demanding. That said, a lawsuit is possible, but without a review of your contract, deed and other relevant documentation, it's impossible to speculate about the possibility of success.

    This communication is intended only to provide general information. No attorney-client relationship is created.

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