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Attyadvisor
Attyadvisor, Attorney
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 5647
Experience:  28 years of experience in general practice, real estate law and estate law.
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I sold a house in California that I lived in 13 years that

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I sold a house in California that I lived in 13 years that closed in May. Pipes were original piping with low water pressure. Lines occasionally backed up and needed snaking and main sewer was cleaned a few years back. We filled out standard disclosures stating YES - we were aware of blockage and backup of sewer system but inadvertently did not describe in detail even though disclosure form required this. Plumbing never had any issues although we did have some leaky toilets that were fixed and inadvertently disclosed no plumbing issues. Seller never asked any questions on these issues during close and home inspection report stated plumbing was in very good shape. Seller in July experienced sewer backup and ultimately replaced the sewer system for $18K. They are now threatening to claim non-disclosure of the plumbing and sewer issues. Should I obtain an attorney even though I am not exactly sure what the claim is?
Welcome and thank you for your question. I will be the professional that will be assisting you.

The "seller" is threatening to sue? You purchased the house?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


No I am the seller. The buyer sent me two invoices yesterday for $18K worth of sewer replacement work and asked what do I want to do with it? That's it.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.


BTW, I also talked to the buyers real estate agent who suggested they obtain an attorney if they wish to claim non-disclosure. But at this time they did not have a specific request from me other than - what do I want to do with these 2 invoices.

Sorry I thought you stated the Seller was claiming non-disclosure. Thank you for the clarification.

YES - we were aware of blockage and backup of sewer system but inadvertently did not describe in detail even though disclosure form required this.


The issue is the failure to disclose certain matters fully. California Civil Code Section 1102 et seq. requires the seller disclose any material defects that they are aware of at the time of the sale.

The home inspection relieves a little of the burden once the buyer waives the inspection contingency.

That being said, you will want to work something out with the buyer if they are seriously considering filing a lawsuit.


You may wish to wait until the purchaser files a claim, however, it may be prudent to have an attorney review your contract and the disclosures to determine whether you provided enough information to negate some of the liability.


Since the closing occurred in May and the damages occurred in July I suspect that the contrators that repaired the matter have informed the purchaser that this did not occur with a couple of months and that this was a pre-existing condition.


I would be happy to provide you with a link for attorneys in your area that can assist in post closing disclosure matters. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/bought-home-with-defects-whos-30058.html

Attyadvisor and 2 other Real Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Can I clarify your answer?


 


YES - we were aware of blockage and backup of sewer system but inadvertently did not describe in detail even though disclosure form required this.


The issue is the failure to disclose certain matters fully. California Civil Code Section 1102 et seq. requires the seller disclose any material defects that they are aware of at the time of the sale.


 


I agree we need to disclose material defects but there was no material defect that I was aware of. Snaking the line and cleaning out the sewer does not constitute material in my mind. As far as I was concerned, the sewers were working fine? You would still consider that material?


 


On the transfer document we answered NO to are we aware of any MATERIAL defects in the operation of the sewer line.

The material fact is the inadvertent failure to disclose plumbing issues with the toilets and the failure to go into detail on the disclosure forms. These are small issues comparison not to disclosing the blockage at all.


These matters can go either way. The fact that an inspection revealed nothing goes a long way to support your position. You can certainly move forward with a lawsuit if one is filed and stand by the fact that you were unaware of a blockage that would require the replacement of the entire sewer system.

Purchaser's often feel the need to have someone pay for the problems they encounter in a home purchase. If you feel strongly that you provided enough information I would have no problem backing you if I was your attorney and taking the position that enough information was disclosed and that the purchaser waived any inspection matters after the inspection period passed.

If you want to be prepared for a potential lawsuit (that hopefully never gets filed) I can provide you for attorneys in the area that work on these types of matters.

As attorneys we always prepare for the worst case scenario and work toward the best outcome for our client.

Thank you.