Purchasing a home is an exciting time, but it can also be nerve-racking – especially when you discover hidden property defects the seller failed to disclose. Now you’ve bought the house and don’t know what to do about newly discovered defects. The good news is that Texas property laws may give you the right to seek retribution from the seller. Here’s everything you need to know about failure to disclose laws in Texas:
What Is Failure To Disclose
Failure To Disclose is the legal term for a type of fraud where important information is intentionally hidden or concealed during business transactions.
What Is a “Property Defect?”
According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, a defect that could qualify new buyers to a legal remedy is any issue that exists on a residential property that could cause a “significant, adverse impact” on the property’s value or that poses an unreasonable risk of harm to people.
Texas law states that home sellers must disclose the following defects: termite damage, plumbing and electrical problems, water leaks, structural issues, roof damage, boundary disputes, and litigation involving the property. The seller must also disclose other “important circumstances” that could affect the buyer’s decision.
Reason for Property Disclosures
In most states, real estate owners must disclose all “material defects” a property has to conduct a valid sale of the home. The reason sellers must disclose property defects is to give the potential buyer a full, complete, and honest picture of the state of the house prior to purchase known as a disclosure statement or disclosure form.
The seller must create a notice of all known property defects with brief explanations of each prior to the closing of the sale in Texas – not doing so in real estate is a failure to disclose violation and breach of contract and the buy may sue! Most sellers and buyers have an independent home inspection that looks for common problems like water damage but there are fraud cases where the inspector missed intentionally hidden damage.
Steps to Sue the Seller
Texas laws allow buyers to sue if a home seller fails to disclose a defect. Note, however, that the law does not require all sellers to disclose defects. People who sell newly constructed homes, “as-is” properties, and those who could not know the property’s condition, do not have to disclose a list of defects. Otherwise, home buyers can take these steps to sue a seller for failure to disclose defects:
- Try to rescind the purchase. You generally have seven days after you receive the notice to rescind the sale if you never received a disclosure notice or if the seller disclosed defects too late.
- Determine fault. The seller might not be the liable party. You might have a case against a home inspector for failing to notice the defect, or against the seller’s realtor for failing to disclose the issue.
- Find out if you have a case. Contact a Dallas residential real estate attorney to find out if you have grounds to sue the seller for failure to disclose a property defect.
In general, if the defect existed before you bought the home and the seller failed to disclose the defect, and you incurred monetary damages as a result, you can sue the seller or another party for breach of contract. A successful lawsuit could result in payment for the cost of repairs. Contact us if you think you might have a case against a seller for failure to disclose to speak and an experienced real estate attorney for more legal advice..