Abraham Krieger Featured in Long Island Herald’s Ask the Lawyer

Publication Source: LIHerald.com

Krieger_AbeQ: I bought a house about a year ago. Since moving in I discovered several problems that didn’t show up on the home inspection. Isn’t the seller obligated to disclose any problems that he knows about to the buyer?

A: The seller’s obligation to “disclose” conditions or problems affecting the residence is governed by the terms of the parties’ contract and the Property Conditions Disclosure Act [PCDA]. PCDA requires the seller to answer a list of questions [The property Conditions Disclosure Statement] involving the seller’s “actual” knowledge of the premises’ conditions and installations.

If the Statement is not provided, the buyer is entitled to a $500 credit against the purchase price. This credit is for “failure” to provide the statement and is not in lieu or in place of remedies under NY law.

Most sellers do not provide the Statement and accordingly, most buyers receive the credit. If a home inspection report was performed and did not disclose what you refer to as “problems,” your remedy may be against the inspection company (although there likely will be liability limitations in the contract). The more reputable companies generally provide a bond or insurance for possible negligent inspection or breach of contract.

As far as determining the seller’s responsibility, there are a number of considerations including [1] whether the problem was reasonably identifiable by a reasonable inspection in which event the buyer is responsible; [2] whether the seller actively concealed the problem[s] or actually misrepresented adverse conditions in which event there may be recourse in the courts; although in deciding whether to sue, carefully consider the costs of litigation against the costs of repair. Litigation will be expensive and may exceed the costs of repairs; and finally [3] if the damage or problems are not significant, but are still compensable under the law, small claims court may be an option.


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