What should a vendor disclose to a buyer when selling their home?
Let’s face it, buying a home can be nerve-racking. You think you’ve done all your research, you’ve had a home inspection done, you’ve moved into your home, you’re sitting comfortably on your new couch sipping on a coffee when…plop…plop…plop.
What’s that sound? There it is again…plop…plop…plop.
The sound of dripping water. That’s strange, you know all the taps are off. Suddenly, you get that knot in your stomach. You realize it’s raining outside. You go upstairs and look around searching for the source of this gut-wrenching sound…alas…there it is…you see water dripping onto your gleaming hardwood floors from the ceiling in your master bedroom.
Why weren’t you told about this? Why didn’t you know?
There are two kinds of defects a buyer should know about when buying a home: Latent defects and patent defects.
In short, patents defects are those obvious problems that should be discovered with a reasonable inspection of the home. A hole in the wall for example. These defects don’t have to be disclosed because they’re obvious.
A true latent defect is one that was not known to either the vendor or the buyer at the time of sale, and, as a result, was not disclosed. If no evidence can be gathered to support a theory that the vendor had knowledge of a defect and deliberately failed to disclose it, then the vendor is not liable for the resulting costs of repairs.
On the other hand, when a latent defect was known by the vendor but not disclosed to the buyer, then the vendor should be responsible for the costs of repairing it. In the example above with the dripping water; let’s say the new home owner investigates the problem and finds that the vendor had purposely misrepresented the leak (let’s say through a patch up job of the ceiling itself without actually addressing the leak in the roof), then that is proof the vendor knew about it and tried to conceal it. A claim against the vendor could easily be filed.
Remember the maxim of Caveat Emptor – buyer beware, applies to the purchase of a home.