Hidden defects: What are your remedies?

Property transactions involve a lot of money and all documents signed are legally binding. It’s important for the buyers and sellers to take steps to protect their rights in these transactions and make sure they don’t get into legal trouble down the line. But even with all the precautions and inspections, some problems can slip through the cracks and cause trouble months or years in the future. These problems in the purchased property are called hidden defects. A specialized lawyer can help with cases involving property transactions and hidden defects.

What are hidden defects?

Property buyers inspect the property before they make a purchase and these are reasonably thorough. However, it’s still easy to miss big problems with the property during the inspection and purchase the property unknowingly. The faults and defects in the property are “hidden” and the sellers are held liable even if they weren’t aware of the problem.

In such cases, the buyer has a case against the seller and the seller has to prove that they couldn’t have been aware of the problem before making a sale. If this can’t be conclusively proven, the seller may have to pay for all repairs related to the hidden defects. If the seller does prove that they couldn’t possibly know about the defects, the judge will decide how to handle the cost of repairs.

Problems related to hidden defects

Both buyers and sellers can face problems because of hidden defects, which is why it’s necessary to protect your interests even before the sales agreement is signed. You might be faced with one of the two situations mentioned below:

  • Sellers – You have sold your home and face claims of hidden or latent defects months or years after the sale. This can be a crack in the foundation wall, infiltrations in the roof structure, problems with sewage lines, etc. These claims can be made against you unless the property is sold at a lower cost without guarantee of its quality.

In such cases, you can’t be held liable and the buyer has to pay for the repairs without any assistance from you. You need to call a lawyer as soon as you are faced with the claims because there’s a chance you might be able to prove lack of knowledge.

  • Buyers – If you find a hidden fault in the property after the purchase that would’ve developed before the purchase agreement, you have legal recourse to seek compensation. In such cases, buyers who are aware of the fault might still purchase the property and pay less money for it. It’s important to contact a legal professional immediately after you discover the fault because such problems are subject to deadlines. The longer you delay, the less likely you are to win the case.

An experienced lawyer will examine the case carefully to understand the liability, recommend the most cost-efficient solution, and carry out negotiations on your behalf. If the parties can’t agree, the case is taken to court for the judge to decide. Experienced lawyers always encourage parties involved to settle out of court and come to a reasonable agreement.

A lawyer will help you protect yourself from hidden defects whether you’re the seller or a buyer. It’s important to consult with an experienced and professional lawyer during the property transactions to ensure your interests are protected and included in the sales agreement. This can help you avoid problems and legal troubles down the line.