I recently purchased a home (it was a flip) and discovered the renovators did not properly dispose of a popcorn celling removal that contained asbestos. We found popcorn celling dust in floor registers and had it tested to confirm asbestos. Before the test, we unknowingly ran the furnace potentially exposing us (and our baby) to asbestos. We had to replace the furnace and all the duct work. After that we thought we resolved the asbestos issues, we found a large black trash bag full of the popcorn celling dust buried under weeds and dirt in the back corner of the backyard.
This seems like an issue about disclosures but I didn't see anything about asbestos on the disclosure forms. I feel like they can claim they were unaware but the house was build in 1975. We have photos from previous listings that show the house had popcorn celling before we purchased it. This also seems like an EPA violation.
We've paid >$10k for repairs and testing so far. The biggest concern is not the money but the potential impact to our young child.
Less important is a plumbing issue - After taking 2 showers we discovered the sewer line was completely destroyed. It was another $10k of repairs.
A seller of real property only has a duty to disclose onthe Transfer Disclosure Statement what the seller knows. The seller is not likely to know about the sewer line issue. As for the popcorn ceiling, it normally is the buyer's duty to inquire and investigate such items during the inspection phase.
If the purchase agreement was on the California Association of Realtors (CAR) form, you are required to mediate before you can litigate or go to arbitration if you desire to recover attorney's fees as the prevailing party. If so, you should demand mediation. Perhaps you can get some money from the seller via mediation. But as for litigation or arbitration, the attorney's fees and costs are going to be much more expensive than the actual repairs costing $20K.
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended nor should be construed as legal advice for any particular case or client. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney. This posting is not intended to constitute an advertisement nor a solicitation.
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