Q: My wife and I purchased a home in April. The previous homeowners filled out a seller’s property disclosure statement in which they put down false answers on questions having to do with dry rot and roof leakage.
What recourse do I have since they answered falsely in the disclosure statement?
I have called the prior owners to pitch in some cash to get the home repaired, but they won’t help.
I have since undertaken to repair the dry rot myself. I have taken pictures of the damage prior to fixing it. All I want is for the prior owners to reimburse me for the materials I have used.
Thank you for any advice you can give me.
A: If you want the sellers to pay for the materials you’ve purchased, you will likely have to sue them. If the sellers intentionally answered questions falsely about the property on the seller disclosure statement, and you can prove that they knew there were problems, then you may have a case and may be awarded damages and even attorneys’ fees.
But before you start hiring an attorney, you should know that seller disclosure cases are tough because you have to have proof that the seller knew, or should have known, about the problem. You can prove this by finding contractors who they hired to address the problem, getting receipts in some cases, interviewing neighbors who may have heard them gripe about the problem, etc.
If you can’t prove that they knew about the problems, you will probably not win the case. While most states provide for attorneys fees for the homeowner if you win a seller disclosure case, you may have to lay out a significant amount of cash for the attorney ahead of time. You can avoid using an attorney if you sue the seller in small claims court.
Oct. 7, 2007.