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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 33798
Experience:  15 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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My question..i purchased a property in june of 2015 through

Customer Question

my question..i purchased a property in june of 2015 through the va. I had a home inspection done that paseed but had just general maintenance issues. since then we have experienced plumbing/toilet issues. I tried to locate the septic tank and where the tank is suppose to be there is none. I have dug in various places in the yard and I keep finding the same line that comes out of the house. what recourse if any do I have if the property doesn't have a septic system? I have read the contract and it does not disclose anything about the septic tank or system
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 9 months ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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Have you actually had a plumber out to scope the line and see where it ends?

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thanks

Barrister.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
no. I have dug up to 100 ft from the house and I find the exact same line that leaves the house
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
it goes in a straight line from the house. you can see the recess in the yard and the grass is actually greener in that area
Expert:  Barrister replied 9 months ago.

Ok, at this point it sounds like you have a "leach field" type of septic system where there is a tanks and there are supposed to be "fingers" that branch off the main line and liquids and solids flow into those lines to be absorbed by the ground and eventually break down the material.

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If the lines are clogged due to build up over the years, then it could result in the fingers needing to be dug up and replaced so as to allow for drainage.

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Obviously I am not a plumber, but have been a real estate flipper and landlord for over 26 years so have a little first hand knowledge about these systems.

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But as for any recourse against the seller, if they had knowledge about any septic problems, then if they failed to disclose it, that could be grounds for a lawsuit against them for fraud, misrepresentation and breach of contract. The problem would be in proving that they had some knowledge about any problems and failed to disclose them.

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One way you can check to see if there have ever been problems would be to call around to any septic system repair companies or pumping companies and ask if they have ever performed service on that property. If so, and you can get any records that show there was work done right before the sale, then you have grounds to sue the seller for the cost of any repairs.

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So you need to do your research and get a plumber or septic system company out to figure out exactly what the problem is first and then determine if there are grounds to sue the seller for fraud.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
ok. I understand what your saying about the type of system. if m understanding the leaching system has fingers that branch off, wouldn't there be areas of greener grass in the areas that branch off? there is however a definite recess and greener grass along the main line from the house that goes along with the piping that we have located? the house isn't that old and most septic people I have talked too have said that there has to be a septic tank due to the fact that the house is less than 20 yrs old.
Expert:  Barrister replied 9 months ago.

Yes, there should be fingers if it was constructed correctly when initially installed. I suppose it is possible to be just one big pipe that runs out a very long way, but I have never seen one constructed that way. There also might be a tank in between where you dug as the tank might be a 2000 gallon tank that was only 8 feet wide, so you might have missed it.

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That is why a plumber or septic company really needs to come out and scope the line with a video camera to see exactly what is there..

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thanks

Barrister

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Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I gotcha. yes that was our plan to have a camera out and find it. it just that where we have dug and the distance we have gone, we shud have found it. I was just wondering if in fact we have no tank, and its just a straight line from the house with no disclosure that there was no tank, what my options were and if there was a legal avenue we shud be taking. we will call a plumber with a camera to come out and investigate and see what we have.
Expert:  Barrister replied 9 months ago.

Whether you have legal options against the seller depends on whether the seller was the one who installed the septic system or not and whether they knew about any problems or not and failed to disclose it. If they did, and it was in violation of local ordinances, then you could have a breach of contract claim against them for the improper installation.

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But if they sold the house "As is" then it makes it much harder to pursue them because it would have been up to you to have the septic inspected prior to purchase to make sure it was functioning properly.

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And if they aren't the one who installed the septic system initially, then there is no liability for them for improper installation.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
ok. that clears up a lot of questions I had. of course I will have to have a septic company out and help determine what I have. one other thing, when we had a home inspection done, the inspector said he just flushed the toilet a couple of times and it flushed ok. should he have located it in his inspection or is that just an optional thing for them to do? I know im grabbing at things but I don't want to not ask something that I should have asked.
Expert:  Barrister replied 9 months ago.

The inspector just does a cursory inspection, but normally is not a licensed plumber who scopes the line to look for problems. So an in depth inspection is not normally part of their contract.

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And they always have lots of disclaimers in their contracts that say that this is basically just their opinion about the property and they aren't legally liable if they miss something unless it is open and obvious or grossly negligent..

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
ok. thank you for taking time to answer my questions. I have tried to talk to local lawyers on this matter but no one has gotten back with me. I will do what we have talked about an go from there....I just hoping that I don't have to install a septic system! thanks again for your advise
Expert:  Barrister replied 9 months ago.

You are very welcome. Glad to help any time..

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If you feel your original question and any related follow ups have been answered, I would very much appreciate a positive rating on the answer I have provided so I receive credit for my work. If you have a new question the JustAnswer folks require that you start a new question page, but you can request me by putting "For Barrister" in the caption and they will get it to me.

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thanks much

Barrister

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