Purchased an investment property with leaky roof - need help from real estate attorney!!

Asked almost 2 years ago - Brentwood, CA

We bought a property in 11 / 12 in contra coats county , and found out the roof leaked after a big rainstorm on 12 / 5 / 12 . My Realtor contacted the listing agent ( who was also the property manager ) . The listing agent denied having any prior knowledge of any problem with the roof . We were able to get hold of the prior tenants and they provided us with the screen shot of " face book " conversation showing the tenants informing the landlord of leaky roof and also stated that the problem had gone on for two years . The seller and the listing agent have refused to take any responsibility . Our general inspection didn't show any problem with the roof . When we repaired the roof , the roofer said the lining under the tiles were torn . What is our option ? going after the general inspector ? seller and agent ?

Additional information

what is the statue of limitation in Contra Costa County in Northern CA?

thanks all.

Attorney answers (5)

  1. Wahid Ezzat Guirguis

    Contributor Level 9

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Sounds like a potential "failure to disclose" case by Seller and Agent. Need to retain a Real Estate Attorney. I agree that Home Inspectors do not generally do invasive testing to be able to find this kind of a problem. That is why if you carefully looked at their agreement, they usually clearly disclaim or limit their liability.

  2. Daniel Patrick Beaver

    Pro

    Contributor Level 5

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It seems like you have some excellent evidence that the seller knew of the problem. It's hard to tell from your post whether the listing agent knew, but there is certainly some circumstantial evidence that he/she did. I'd be a little more wary of going after the inspector.

    Most real estate purchase contracts require you to attempt to mediate this dispute prior to filing a lawsuit. There is usually a provision barring you from recovering attorneys fees (in the event you win) if you do not first attempt to mediate. I would go after both the seller and the agent under the facts you have provided.

    Please note that no attorney-client relationship is created or implied by the posting of this answer.
  3. Michael T Millar

    Pro

    Contributor Level 19

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . A home inspector does not conduct an "invasive" inspection so that if the condition would not be disclosed by a visual inspection of the roof or ceiling, then the inspector would likely not be liable for not finding it.

    If the seller and agent knew of the condition, then they had a duty to disclose it. It may be fraud by omission to not disclose a known defect.

    Laws vary from state to state, so you should speak with a local attorney to determine what your rights and options are.

    If this answer was helpful, please mark it as helpful or as a best answer. This answer is for general education... more
  4. Athina Karamanlis Powers

    Pro

    Contributor Level 17

    Answered . If you feel the need to sue someone you need to go against the seller and the listing agent.
    As per your real estate agent you need to prove that your agent knew the defect of the roof or it was disclosed to him by the seller's site.
    Under the facts u presented above (torn lining on the roof), definitely the seller knew the situation except if the house is located in a dry area like Palm Desert.
    A Facebook post can be subpoenaed but u need to prove that the seller knew about the post or that the tenant notified the seller.
    Before all the above:
    First check the disclosures from the seller that u signed off. Second check the listing about the property (the property was sold as is and stands?). Third was the listing broker informed for freshly painted house or renovated house and posted that kind of info in his/her listing? Many variables that an attorney needs to consider.
    You definitely need an attorney to review documents and evidence to accurately advice you.
    Yes there are legal issue that a responsible attorney needs to explore. Maybe is a case of fraud in combination of brokers malpractice and misconduct in the MLS listing.

    Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is provided for informational purposes only, and should not... more
  5. Nicholas Roscha

    Contributor Level 6

    Answered . A seller of residential property generally has a duty to disclose those issues affecting the value or desirability of the property, and additional dislcoure obligations are found in the mandatory disclosure statements required by the Civil Code.

    If a seller knew a roof leaked and did not disclose it to the buyer, then that is a problem.

    There are numeorus issues at play in real estate cases dealing with the potential fraud or negligence of a seller, and you shouuld contact an attorney to discuss the facts and issues.

    Nothing in this answer shall be construed as providing legal advice or counsel, and is general information only.... more

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