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Old 06-05-2012, 06:09 PM
 
2 posts, read 8,195 times
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I just bought a house about 2 months ago and discovered that there is a slab leak in the house. The plumbing companies who have come out, have all concluded the the problem was pre-existing and a reroute of the plumbing cannot be done due to the age and condition of the galvanized pipes. A repipe is the only solution to the problem. The seller's realtor listed the prorperty as being in turn-key condition. I had my own inspection done but the inspector did not do any intrusive inspections and also has disclaimers in his contract for not being responsible for latent/concealed defects which is what this slab leak is. I feel that the seller knew about this problem and did not disclose it. Ironically, he is an inspector himself and he also did most of the remodel and repair work on this house over the course of two years. I would think that, given his expertise, he would have discovered this problem during the whole process.

I want to take the seller to small claims court for the cost of doing the repipe (about 6k) which I feel he is responsible for. I live in Southern California and he lives in Phoenix, AZ. I was told that I cannot sue him in small claims court because he lives in another state. This was a standard sale. The seller inherited the house but it was not a probate sale. I am a bit skeptical about whether or not this is true that I cannot sue him because he lives in another state. Is anyone in this forum familiar with how all this works?
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Old 06-05-2012, 06:28 PM
 
Location: NJ
17,579 posts, read 38,333,874 times
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From what you have posted you have zero proof the seller knew about this issue.
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Old 06-05-2012, 06:41 PM
 
239 posts, read 523,076 times
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What proof do you have that he knew about it? If you don't have any you can forget it, It would be a waste of time.
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Old 06-05-2012, 07:14 PM
 
2 posts, read 8,195 times
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The seller's agent came out to the house after I bought it, suspecting that there would be pipes running through the wall where the slab leak is at. There was blistering in the wall which indicated a possible pinhole leak spraying water on the inside of the wall, not to mention moisture in the carpet. They had one of their handymen come out to knock a few holes in the wall but there were no pipes inside. There was moisture in the foundation below the concrete. The wall shows a history of patching. The water stain on the back side of the moulding shows that water has settled in this area for quite some time.

New carpet was amongst many of the new improvements in the house. This is just one example but you're going to tell me that in the process of putting new carpet in the house, no one saw any signs of water in the exposed foundation in this area of the house? The writeup by the plumbing company stated that the problem has been ongoing. Again, the seller is a tradesman and inspector himself and did most of the work in the house. I feel his expertise makes him knowledgeable for identifying these sorts of problems. He did a remodel of the whole house and had it listed as being in turnkey condition. In the process of doing all this, he never bothered to verify the condition of the plumbing but went through the due diligence of verifying the functionality of everything else in the house? Sorry, but I'm not buying it. You're right that I don't have the kind of proof that I suppose you think I should have i.e. video of him covering up the problem or audio recordings of him having conversations about not disclosing this. Is my "proof" simply strong speculation? I tend to think it's a bit more than that.

All this aside, the main reason for posting this was not for you to assess the strength of my case but whether or not it's true that I cannot sue the seller in CA small claims court because he lives in another state. I do however appreciate your commentary on it.
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Old 06-05-2012, 07:27 PM
 
Location: Lakewood Ranch, FL
5,119 posts, read 7,653,901 times
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You are not only asking a legal question but you are asking a legal question specifically about your state's small claims policy. Rather than wasting your time with an anonymous internet opinion, just contact the small claims court in your area and ask them. Good luck with it. I know it can be very frustrating to have this happen.
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Old 06-05-2012, 08:58 PM
 
Location: NJ
17,579 posts, read 38,333,874 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wizzkidder View Post

All this aside, the main reason for posting this was not for you to assess the strength of my case but whether or not it's true that I cannot sue the seller in CA small claims court because he lives in another state. I do however appreciate your commentary on it.
Then why post in the real estate forum if your question is about small claims court?
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Old 06-05-2012, 11:43 PM
 
413 posts, read 699,126 times
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google "international shoe" and you will find your answer.
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Old 06-05-2012, 11:49 PM
 
Location: Kailua Kona, HI
3,199 posts, read 10,974,821 times
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You can sue anyone for anything under the sun, but you must file in the proper court. Small Claims are not "transferrable" between states. $6000 may be over the limit for which you can file in SC court anyways. You have to file in a higher court - could be named "District Court" or "Circuit Court"; I don't remember what they're named in California. You will need an attorney because in addition to filing in the higher court, you may then have to have the case domesticated into AZ before having him served. At this point, I'm sure you can see that you will need an attorney to handle this for you. Then you can try to prove that he had knowledge and purposely withheld that material fact from his seller's disclosure.
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Old 06-06-2012, 04:49 AM
 
Location: MID ATLANTIC
7,603 posts, read 17,643,477 times
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You need to get a phone and the internet/phone book and call around, looking for anyone that may have worked on your home. 4 hours work and you may have your proof. The payback os $1500 per hour. Anyway, that's what I would do.
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Old 06-06-2012, 06:01 AM
 
Location: Knoxville
4,136 posts, read 19,753,957 times
Reputation: 4728
Sounds like the burden of proof that he knew about it will be a tough sell. Since the house is older (galvanized pipes), the leaks could have started at any time.

If your inspector didn't find any signs of leaking, what makes you think that the home owner would have seen anything? Seems to me that if the pipes had been leaking a long time, there would have been signs when you had it inspected yourself.

Seller being out of State, and very hard for you to prove he knew anything about it or tried to cover it up will make this very difficult for you to win and collect anything. Might be hard to find an attorney willing to take on a 6K case too.
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