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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 34272
Experience:  16 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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Last year I put my home in new Hampshire into a contract for

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Hello ,
last year I put my home in new Hampshire into a contract for deed with a nice young family. the contract is a legit legal document, notarized, but the closing was all very informal. I was unaware at the time that I was required to provide a lead disclosure form (the house was built in 1815). I certainly had no acute knowledge of Lead in the home, but I certainly understand that it is always worth suspecting in a home of that age. I had renovated 80% of the interior of the home. the two rooms where original painted woodwork existed I cleaned and repainted with three coats. the siding is still original and unfinished though.
last week the buyers informed me that their 1 year old son tested with elevated lead levels, and they are planning to move out, and expect me to buy back the equity they have in the house. to my knowledge, no tests have been done to find lead in the home yet.
I have been in touch with the EPA, and I am trying to right things from there end, but I am wondering If anyone has insight into whether or not such claims nullify an existing contract.
your time is much appreciated.

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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Unfortunately, this could result in them being able to hold you liable for any remediation because under federal law, before ratification of a contract for housing sale or lease, the seller must give the potential buyer an EPA approved pamphlet about lead based paint hazards for any pre 1978 housing.

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Seller also has to put an attachment to the actual contract that states that they included a LBP warning statement and confirm that the seller has complied with all notification requirements.

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But according to the National Association of Realtors, both the federal law and regulations expressly provide that noncompliance can't be used to void or nullify the contract after ratification and can't void any transfer of real estate.

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With that said, I suspect that the buyers may be in financial trouble and are using this as a cover to try to get out of the contract. You are under no obligation to voluntarily refund their money and can force them to take this to court to see if a judge would find it reasonable for them to claim that they had no idea that it could have lead based paint, considering it is almost 200 years old... This will cost them thousands in attorney fees up front that they likely don't have.

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So you could tell them that you will try to help them by assisting them in putting the house on the market to sell, but they can't reasonably claim that they had no knowledge that the house had LBP and they voluntarily accepted that certainty.

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I think it would likely be a coin toss as to how a judge would decide if it got that far though with him likely ordering you to pay some or all of the costs of remediation to remove or seal up any possible LBP which can be fairly expensive.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
that is great to hear.
thank you, ***** *****I would be happy to pay for the remediation, as I assumed that would be the least of what I might be accountable for.
again, thank you.

You are very welcome. Happy to help any time.

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As an aside, in addition to being an attorney, I have also been a licensed Realtor for over 14 years...

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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 as that is the only way 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

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
of course.

Thanks very much!

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Have a great day!

Barrister

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