As part of the home inspection there was a list of items that the seller agreed to fix, however the contractor did not complete the repairs as needed and we are still dealing with the issues (water leaks/damage). These repairs where documented and became part of the contract. The sellers are not cooperating with any of my requests to assist in getting the repairs completed.
The house is ten years old and the heating system is not capable of heating to house. We bought the house in the summer and now that winter is here, we discovered this issue. The heating system has not changed from when the house was built. The sellers knew about this but said nothing. I've had three quotes provided by contractors to revise the heating system, all in the 20K range.
What would you recommend?
I am not a WA attorney and do not know your local laws.
Here, a seller of real estate is under a legal duty to disclose all known latent defects that are known to the seller and not readily observable by a buyer. The failure to disclose a defect is fraud and can result in a lawsuit for damages.
You should contact a local consumer protection attorney.
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Personal Injury Lawyer
Next time you buy a house, if the inspection reveals inadequacies (including an unsatisfactory heating system), don't buy it.
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I agree with both of the answers and you will need to sue the sellers, brokers and contractors and get any funds that remain in escrow applied to mitigation of the damage. Get all you paperwork to a lawyer right away.
Only If and until you and I sign an Agreement for Legal Services, I am not your attorney. These answers are provided for informational and/or novelty purposes
Real Estate Attorney
It is not a simple matter to sue everybody – you may end up throwing good money after bad! Claims against sellers for undisclosed defects are very difficult to prove in court – claims for defects you were aware of, but were not adequately corrected by contractors hired by the seller are even more difficult!
Generally, to have recourse against the sellers, you must prove by clear, cogent and convincing evidence (a higher standard of proof than required in most civil lawsuits) that the defect existed at the time of the sale, the defect is material (significant), the sellers had actual knowledge of the defect, you were not aware of the defect and a reasonably careful inspection, investigation and inquiry would not have revealed the defect and you were damaged by the sellers’ failure to disclose the defect. The sellers are not required to disclose defect they reasonably believed had been corrected. “Actual knowledge” does not encompass facts the sellers should have known, but did not have a subjective, personal awareness of.
Simliarly, the broker(s) involved are not liability, unless they had actual knowledge of undisclosed defects.
You will not have recourse against the contractor, unless the contractor warranted its work and the warranty runs with the house, because you did not hire the contractor. So long as the sellers reasonably believed that the contractor they hired was qualified, competent, reputable and solvent, the sellers are not liable for adequate repairs made by the contractor. If your agreement was written on standard NWMLS forms, then you had a right to have the repairs re-inspected before closing. If you failed to do so, then you probably will be estopped (precluded) from now raising the inadequacy of the repairs.
You may have recourse against the home inspector you hired, if you can prove that the inspector was negligent in failing to discover the undisclosed defects. The inspector is not “negligent” simply because he/she missed the defect. You must show that a reasonably competent inspector exercising reasonable care would have discovered the defect.
Regardless of whether you have recourse, (a) have the existing conditions inspected (by a different inspector than the one who conducted your pre-purchase inspection) before making non-emergency repairs, (b) take lots of pictures, (c) keep all parties advised of your findings (including repair proposals and cost estimates), (d) invite the parties to make their own inspection before performing repairs, and (3) ask the parties for their suggestions as to how to resolve the problem(s). The reason for these steps is to prevent the parties from “Monday-morning quarterbacking” (claiming you should have done things differently or gotten more bids).
As I said at the outset, this is a complicated situation – not a simple one. If there is enough money involved to justify the expense and you believe you have evidence sufficient to satisfy the elements enumerated above, then you should consult an experienced real estate litigator.