Q: I closed on a condominium 5 days ago. I moved into the condo 2 days ago and I discovered that the bathroom sink was leaking.
It appears that the sink is cracked under the basin and therefore was not visible during the inspection.
Also, the hole has corroded and appears to have been patched, although I can not tell how long ago. The previous homeowner lived in the condo for the past five years.
Do I have a right to ask the sellers to pay for a new sink and the plumbing bill to install it? The condo is over 90 years old and I’m worried that messing with the plumbing will create more problems and that this could quickly get expensive.
Do I need to have them agree to pay for this before I can begin to fix the sink?
A: Before you go out on the war path, you should first consider some things. You might want to get an estimate from a plumber to determine what the repair will cost. There are times that these repairs can be minor and not cost a fortune. The second thing you need to determine is whether it is possible that the sellers didn’t know of the problem.
If you feel the sellers had to have known about the leak, you can ask your buyer’s agent to call the seller’s agent. Tell your agent what you’ve discovered and that it is your feeling that the sellers either knew or should have know about the problem.
If they knew or should have known that the bathroom sink was leaking and did not disclose it, they could be liable for the cost of replacing it. You need to keep in mind that a leaky bathroom fixture may not rise to a high enough level to require the seller to disclose that issue to you.
If you have contact with the sellers through your broker, you can negotiate a settlement with them. It’s possible that they will decline to do anything, and simply say, “Buyer beware.” At that point, you can talk to the home inspector, if you hired a home inspector, about missing the problem. Perhaps the inspector will refund your home inspection fee.
If not, then you can decide if you wish to talk to an attorney and pursue your legal options or let it be and just do the work yourself. Suing someone is time consuming and to win under seller disclosure laws, you’ll have to prove that the seller knew or should have known about the problem.
But please consider the possibility that the sellers also did not know of the problem. If there is a huge puddle of water on the floor, then it may be implausible that the sellers didn’t know. But if the amount of water is little and it was unlikely that the seller’s would have seen it unless they performed a thorough inspection of the sink, it’s possible that the seller did not know and you would be on the hook for the repairs.