The answer to the question ‘what if I buy water damaged house without knowing?’ is to determine who is responsible for the repairs first. If you are sure that the water damage did not occur during your time of stay, then proceed with the article. If you are uncertain when the water damage started, this article could still give you insight into what to do when you find water damage in your newly-acquired home.
Who Is Responsible For The Repairs?
You have to determine who should shoulder the repairs if the water damage was undisclosed to you. There are three possible persons responsible for your undisclosed water damage repair.
The first is the seller. Generally, state laws require sellers to inform buyers of property defects. While the seller is not obligated to inspect every problem in their property, it is mandated that they be honest when asked about an issue. In this situation, you have to figure out if the seller was aware of the water damage.
2. Seller’s real estate agent
Real estate agents from some states are liable for disclosing problems like water damage to their clients. Although, this may be limited to observable damage. In any case, it would do you well to ask a lawyer who is familiar with real estate transactions such as this to clarify the extent of the real estate agent’s duty to report.
Your inspector may be responsible for the repairs if you hired one before buying the house and they missed significant water damage. Their job is to investigate the state of the house and spot issues that even the seller might not be aware of.
Look over the inspection report to see if they indicated that there is damage in the water-affected area. If not, then proceed to the next part of the article.
How do you determine the repair costs?
You need an expert to work on how to determine the repair costs of the water damage in your newly-acquired home. In this situation, your insurance agent may be of help.
You can also ask for the insurance coverage of your home. This is because the standard one does not cover mold damage and flood damage costs. Mold and flood would then incur additional expenses on the responsible party’s part.
Do you have a legal case in your midst?
After figuring out who is responsible; then, you have to figure out if you have a legal case. Here are the situations wherein a legal case may be appropriate for you:
1. Presence of damage before procurement
If you are a hundred percent certain that the water damage is not due to your lapses in the maintenance of your house aging, then you may have a legal case in your midst. However, it would be best to have a professional do an analysis because there may be complicated water damage issues.
2. Someone lied to you
This can take many forms. It may be that the seller masked the damaged ceiling with a fake one. In that situation, you have claims against the seller and the inspector because they should have seen it too.
Another situation is when no one among the parties above told you about the presence of water damage in your home before you bought it. Lastly, when you rely on the seller’s word that the remodeling is up to date, but the seller failed to comply, then you may proceed with a legal case.
Are there alternatives to taking the issue to court?
There are alternatives, and it is advised to do the following before proceeding to the court. First, send the responsible party a demand letter. In the demand letter, ask the responsible party to shoulder the costs of the water damage.
Second, ask the party to go to mediation with you if you have told them of the issue and they do not agree with your terms. All of these negotiations should be kept in writing and double-checked by a real estate lawyer.
If the alternatives do not work, then…
File a lawsuit if the responsible party did not agree with the alternatives above. Here are the things you have to consider before filing a lawsuit:
Ensure that you are within the deadline
In short, mind the statute of limitation. Look into your state’s statute of limitation regarding undisclosed water damage so you can take appropriate measures. If not, the repair costs would fall on your shoulders.
Small claims court or state court
Decide whether you should file a lawsuit in a small claims court or a state court. The former is not as expensive.
However, small claims courts do not usually allow lawyers. If the repair costs of the damage exceed the limit of the small claims court, file the lawsuit in a state court instead.
Looking for a good home is challenging, so we understand the question ‘what if I buy water damaged house without knowing.’ The best thing you can do before purchasing is to be meticulous in inspecting your prospect.
Also, do communicate with the real estate agent so that they’ll be reminded. However, in the unfortunate case that it has already happened, we have written the guide above for you. Please use it well!