NYC Undisclosed Property Defects Attorney

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The thrill of purchasing a new property can quickly become a legal maze when undisclosed defects come to light after the transaction. When this happens in New York, our real estate litigation attorneys can help.

We are equipped to fight for your rights and seek compensation for losses you may have incurred due to undisclosed defects.

Our comprehensive understanding of the legal landscape enables us to provide strong representation for our clients. Reach out to Richman Law Firm PLLC today for a free consultation.

Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware)

Caveat Emptor is a Latin term meaning “Buyer Beware.” It is a traditional legal rule that places the onus on the buyer to ensure the quality and suitability of a property before purchase.

However, various consumer protection laws have significantly modified Caveat Emptor in today’s real estate market. While it is still crucial for buyers to conduct due diligence, sellers and agents also have legal obligations to disclose known defects.

Buyer’s Due Diligence and Why It Is Important

In real estate transactions, due diligence refers to the process where the buyer thoroughly investigates the details of a property before finalizing the deal. It is a crucial step that can help avoid potential legal and financial pitfalls.

This process includes verifying the information provided by the seller, inspecting the property for defects, checking for legal issues, and assessing the property’s value. A buyer’s due diligence may involve hiring professionals such as property inspectors, appraisers, and attorneys to examine all aspects of the property and contract drafts.

Due diligence is crucial as it enables the buyer to learn about defects before closing a sale. Additionally, in the event of future legal disputes, it provides evidence that the buyer fulfilled their responsibilities and identifies any third parties who may be liable.

Laws Pertaining to Failure to Disclose

In New York, The Property Condition Disclosure Act (PCDA) requires every residential seller to provide a property description disclosure statement outlining any known defects or issues with the property.

The Property Condition Disclosure Act (PCDA) requires sellers to provide a detailed disclosure statement about the property condition. This includes information about structural integrity, environmental hazards, utilities, and other material defects.

This act ensures transparency in real estate transactions, protecting the buyer from purchasing a property with known but undisclosed defects.

Failure to provide this disclosure or false information can result in the seller being held liable for the buyer’s damages, and the buyer may be entitled to compensation.

Consumer Protection From Deceptive Acts

New York’s General Business Law (GBL) § 349, also known as the Deceptive Acts and Practices law, protects consumers from misleading business practices. This could include, for example, a seller intentionally concealing a significant defect in a property or making a false representation of the property’s condition.

In real estate transactions, this law can provide a strong legal recourse for buyers who discover undisclosed defects after purchasing a property.

If a seller intentionally conceals a defect or falsely represents the property, they may be held liable under GBL § 349. This could result in the seller being required to compensate the buyer for any losses they have incurred due to the undisclosed defect.

Claims Against Sellers

Buyers who purchase a property and later discover a seller’s failure to disclose home defects may have a claim against the seller.

Sellers are the primary source of information about the property and can sometimes be held liable for these issues. This could be based on fraud, breach of contract, or violation of consumer protection laws.

It’s also worth noting that the seller’s liability can extend beyond the immediate financial impact of repairing the defect. If the property’s value is significantly reduced due to the defect, the seller could be held responsible for this depreciation.

Claims Against Property Inspectors

Property inspectors play a pivotal role in real estate transactions, providing a detailed home inspection report of a property’s condition. The information they provide can significantly influence a buyer’s decision to purchase a property and the price they are willing to pay.

If an inspector fails to identify a significant defect that should have been reasonably discovered during the inspection, buyers may have a claim for negligence or breach of contract. These damages can include the cost of repairs, a decrease in the property’s value, and other related expenses.

It’s important to note that not all defects will necessarily give rise to a claim against a certified home inspector. They are not typically responsible for defects that are hidden or that become apparent only after the inspection.

Claims Against Real Estate Brokers

Real estate brokers have a fiduciary duty to their clients. This means they are legally obligated to act in the buyers’ best interest throughout the transaction. If a broker fails to disclose known defects or misrepresents the property condition, they may be liable for any damages buyers incur.

The nature and extent of a broker’s liability can vary depending on the case, including their level of involvement in the transaction and their knowledge of the property’s condition.

Our attorneys at Richman Law Firm PLLC are well-versed in real estate law and can provide aggressive representation if a real estate broker has misled you. We thoroughly investigate your claim, gather evidence, and work tirelessly to hold the responsible parties accountable.

Types of Defects Sellers and Brokers Must Disclose

There are certain defects that sellers and brokers are legally required to disclose to potential buyers. These typically include material defects that could affect the value or desirability of the property, as well as latent defects that may not be immediately apparent but could cause significant problems down the line.

Material Defects

Material defects are issues that could impact the property’s value or its safety. These might include structural problems such as foundation cracks, roof leaks, or issues with major systems like plumbing or electrical wiring.

Latent Defects

Latent defects are hidden problems that may not be readily apparent during a routine inspection but could cause significant damage or risk the occupants’ safety. These might include major issues like mold, hidden water damage, asbestos, or termite infestation.

Preventing Undisclosed Defects Before Closing

Property defects can range from minor cosmetic issues to severe structural problems. Below are some common property defects that sellers, brokers, and inspectors often fail to disclose, which can help buyers avoid future hidden issues if spotted early.

Structural Defects

Structural defects include issues within the core components of the property, such as the foundation, roof, and walls. Cracks in the foundation, leaky roofs, and unstable walls could be signs of further defects that could impact the safety and stability of a property.

System Defects

System inspections should include plumbing, electrical, heating, and cooling systems. Faulty wiring, leaky pipes, and inefficient HVAC systems can be a sign of a future system failure that could hinder the functionality of a property. Defects in these areas can also lead to water damage, fire hazards, or other more serious issues.

Environmental Hazards

Not all inspection contracts verify the presence of asbestos, radon gas, lead-based paint, or pests like termite infestations. However, these could not only be a risk to health and safety, but they could also considerably drop the value of a property. Additionally, Mold signs indicate something hazardous might have happened to the property.

Building Code Violations

Building code violations are another defect that can impact a property’s value and safety. These violations occur when a property doesn’t meet local or state building codes’ safety, health, or construction standards.

While some building code violations are apparent, others may not be easily identifiable during a routine inspection. For instance, the seller’s real estate agent might overlook verifying whether the seller has complied with all required city audits or regular building inspections.

This oversight can result in the buyer facing unexpected fines and legal complications due to unresolved code violations. Buyers must ensure that all necessary inspections and audits have been completed and passed to avoid these potential issues.

Next Steps After Discovering Property Defects

As a general rule, no homeowner likes to discover hidden or undisclosed home defects that could affect their property value. However, you can take steps to protect your rights and a potential claim.

  1. Document the defect: Take photographs, make notes, and gather relevant documentation.
  2. Contact a professional: Have the defect assessed by a professional to understand its extent and potential repair cost.
  3. Consult with an attorney: Seek legal advice to increase your chances of reaching fair compensation.

Statute of Limitations

In New York, the statute of limitations for bringing a claim against a seller for failure to disclose property defects is typically three years from the date of the purchase. However, it’s important to note that this timeline may vary depending on the nature of the claim.

For example, if the claim is based on fraud, the statute of limitations may be extended to six years from the date the fraud was discovered or could have been discovered with reasonable diligence.

It’s crucial to consult an attorney as soon as possible to understand the timeline that applies to your case.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

If you’ve discovered undisclosed home defects in your property and believe you have a valid claim against the seller, property inspector, or real estate broker, don’t hesitate to reach out to Richman Law Firm PLLC.

As a leading NYC law firm with a proven track record in real estate litigation, we have the knowledge and experience to handle cases involving undisclosed property defects.

We understand the intricacies of New York’s real estate laws and are well-versed in the strategies needed to successfully pursue claims against sellers, property inspectors, and real estate brokers. Contact us today for a free consultation.


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    Mr. Richman is the Managing Member and Founder of Richman Law Firm PLLC. In his role as Managing Member, Mr. Richman oversees the day-to-day operations of the firm and handles the litigation of the most complex legal matters across a vast array of practice areas and disciplines. ​

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