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Old 01-27-2010, 09:58 AM
3 posts, read 167,207 times
Reputation: 20


[SIZE=3]Hi all, first time poster here with a problem and needing some advice. Here is my story. I closed on a modest home in Oct, and before I moved in, I wanted to clean it really well. I started cleaning the kitchen cabinets, and noticed black specks in all the corners and behind the edges. It turned out to be roach droppings. I later found dead roaches in the light fixtures, behind switch plates, etc. So it looked like the house had a severe roach infestation at one time. Thankfully, there were no signs of any more living. Anyway, time to do some more heavy duty cleaning. I then noticed that one of the cabinet toe kicks was new. I started poking around, and pulled it off. The cabinet base behind it was just rotted. Pulled some more off, and the cabinet bases closest to the refrigerator all were rotten. I had a contractor to look at the damage, and he thought that either the icemaker or dishwasher had leaked in the past. I then pulled the cabinets out to try to repair them, but decided just to go ahead and put new cabinets in, and while I was there, a new vinyl floor. After pulling up the old floor, I found more rot and mildew/mold under the refrigerator and behind the baseboard. So I had to end up replacing about a 3í square section of subfloor and some drywall. The floor joists had bit of mildew/mold on them, and just a tiny bit of rot, so I just cleaned these up. Also found some rot over next to the wall adjacent to the laundry room. Had to repair about a 1í section here, but when I went under the house to look at it, I noticed that the subfloor in the laundry room had been replaced before, and this rot was related to that. So I guess the washing machine had leaked, rotted the laundry room floor, and the previous owner had to have it replaced. [/SIZE]
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[SIZE=3]Now, after that long story, I want to know if I have any recourse against the previous owner. From talking to the neighbors, the seller was the original owner, and had lived there for several years. She then rented it out for a couple of years, and then decided to sell it. Iím assuming she knew about the damage since the floor and toe kicks had been replaced. (I donít think the renter would have done this). My real estate agent said that I possibly could take her to small claims court to reimburse me for time and materials. I have supporting pictures of all the damages, and receipts for the all the materials to repair the damage. I donít have any estimates for repair, except for just repairing the cabinet bases. She did sign the disclosure form saying there was no damage. Sorry for the really long post, but Iím just needing some advice on what to do here.[/SIZE]
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Old 01-27-2010, 10:14 AM
Location: Barrington
39,241 posts, read 29,776,212 times
Reputation: 13292
Is it possible the seller thought the previous problem has been remediated and therefore no need to disclose? Disclosure requirements vary state to state. What state are you in?

Assuming your state's discloure laws support your case, consider omitting the roach part, cause it dilutes the real story.
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Old 01-27-2010, 12:09 PM
Location: Salem, OR
13,524 posts, read 30,411,144 times
Reputation: 11483
I think you'd have an uphill battle. First of all it appears that the some repairs were done. It is possible that the owner hired someone to fix the work...they might have done shoddy work...so as far as the owner is concerned the damage was repaired.

Now whether or not they had to disclose the damage and subsequent repair to you depends on your state laws. In my state, if it has been repaired then it is not longer damaged, hence it doesn't need to be disclosed (major things like fire and floods are exceptions).

I would think that in order to have a case you would have to be able to prove that the owner knew that the damage wasn't repaired properly OR your state would have to require that all water damage gets disclosed regardless of whether or not it was fixed.

I also agree with MAM that the roach thing is irrelevant. Didn't you get a home inspection?
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Old 01-27-2010, 08:20 PM
27,907 posts, read 65,304,503 times
Reputation: 17352
As someone that has owned rental properties I can tell you that the kind of damage COULD very easily have been caused by a careless tenant AND that the types of repairs could very well have been undertaken by a tenant that sorta knew what they were doing and wanted to get these repairs done without risking eviction.

It would be a very tough case to make to any judge. There is no "smoking gun" that the seller was trying to pull a fast one, heck even in cases where there IS such evidence (like a sale that fell through when a place failed to meet FHA standards...) judges routinely will not hold sellers liable when the a qualified inspection was ordered by the buyer...
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:36 PM
14 posts, read 28,389 times
Reputation: 31
Well Jamie, let me first apologize for finding this so late. I was researching online articles for my lawsuit and came upon your post. I am sorry that this happened to you and I have some advise for you or maybe more for future readers who might find themselves in a position like yours or mine. First of all, I notice that most if not all of the replies are from either realtor types or people involved in some way, shape or form in real estate/property management. I would not rely on LEGAL advice from anyone associated with the real estate business . What you are seeking is really a legal opinion, if you know a lawyer ask the question about recourse. It sounds like you were decieved to me. The part of the subfloor that you found to have been replaced indicates they knew they had some sort of issue that caused that to necessitate replacing. If a reasonable person had to guess why, they would probably bring up water damage or wood rot. Who cares if someone did a shoddy repair, it should have been disclosed and probably would have been if it had been repaired properly. The safest thing for an honest seller and realtor to do is to disclose EVERYTHING. Give a reasonable person the opportunity to either walk or inspect a condition properly and in detail. If a repair has been repaired "properly" why not disclose it ? I am sure the "maketing pros" will have a hundred reasons why and they all relate to a sale.
I notice that you are from North Carolina, did you review the seller's disclosure ? The NC disclosure form is weak at best, at least compared to Texas but when a seller checks "no", this implies a statement of condition. That they know the condition of that item, this was falsely represented as in ok condition. You might have to do some poking around but you would be amazed at what information I found after being stonewalled by realtors and the seller. Ask neighbors if they heard of any issues, review the disclosure, check with your insurance to see if any claims were filed on that property (c.l.u.e. report). If the contract for sale did not include an "as is" clause you might be able to file a deceptive trade practice suit but it might not be practical in this case due to how much it might cost you vs damages. I just hope there are no other hidden damages. For the realtor types who read this post, people like to think that "repairing" something eliminates the need for disclosure but it DOES NOT. Most states require a homeowner to disclose any condition that might affect the material value of the property (previous water damage/mold/asbestos etc.). It states that anything that might make a reasonable person offer less money for the property or not consider the property for purchase needs to be disclosed. The law is intentionally vague to give people some room for recourse. Agents love to distance themselves from any talk of lawsuits but they and sellers walk a fine line when selling homes with the attitude that "repaired" means "properly repaired" and encompasses all damage and guarantees that the damage will not return, ie. it is repaired at the source as in water leaks etc.
I know this is long winded and I am sorry. I hope this worked out for you. Be glad that the damage was fairly minor and I hope you didn't find more. By-the-way, I understand why you put the cockroach part in and it tied in nicely in that your point is that you suspect you had a less than honest seller who did not disclose known defects/issues to you. Believe me, realtors just want to sell you a house, they don't care what happens the minute you sign on the dotted line ! To the realtors who will bash this post, I do know some honest, good realtors who are truly professionals. They walk through a property and look at ceilings and walls and make sure clients get a c.l.u.e report before close and then there are those who like to hide from looking at anything and have no clue what a c.l.u.e. report is and like to tell people that if things are "fixed" they don't need to be disclosed. Those are the ones who get sued
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:41 PM
Location: NJ
17,579 posts, read 36,989,359 times
Reputation: 16032
Originally Posted by NapaDad View Post
I would not rely on LEGAL advice from anyone associated with the real estate business .
No one should rely on LEGAL advice from anyone in any business other than a lawyer.
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Old 01-05-2011, 02:57 AM
Location: Bangalore, India
8 posts, read 23,950 times
Reputation: 10
Its best to contact a lawyer and take his/her advice as no one is clear about whether the damage was done by the owner or the people who stayed there on rent.
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Old 01-05-2011, 06:37 AM
27,907 posts, read 65,304,503 times
Reputation: 17352
Default What is the difference between some other disgruntled home buyer offering advice???

Get real!

The points I made are simple:

#1 -- Renters can do this kind of damage and then attempt to hide from the landlord so that when they sell they really do not know that some careless tenant flooded the place and then tried to patch it up.

#2 -- Judges are not prone to siding with either buyers or sellers. They are bound by the laws of their state and must stick to the rules of evidence that go along with those laws. I have personally seen judges side with sellers that, because of evidence of a past sale falling through, certainly seemed to be deceiving the current buyers. The rules of evidence in this case were such that such evidence was disallowed. The judge has a duty to enforce the laws, the rules of evidence, and the interests of the people, in that order. It ain't like on TV where advertisers want peoplemto tune in for more controversy...

#3 -- inspections are generally accepted as being the one out for a buyer to cancel the contract, ask for repairs or accept the conditions. Without an inspection both buyers and sellers are leaving a lot "at risk".

Legally the disclosure forms of EACH STATE have very differnent standards. What is OK in TX may be a violation in NC or IL, and the opposite may also be true.

Do not rely on the advice or opinions of anyone other than a local lawyer that you are paying...
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