Selling a home is a big deal and, for many sellers, a huge burden off their shoulders. If you recently sold your home, you are likely familiar with the surge of relief that comes with finalizing the transaction.
But then, you receive notice that the buyers plan to sue you for defects you failed to disclose. Do they have a case? Nolo explains Florida’s stance on undisclosed defects and the risk they present to sellers.
Florida’s stance on undisclosed home defects
In most cases, Florida home sellers face limited risks with regards to undisclosed defects and issues. Florida lawmakers do not expect homeowners to know or learn about and disclose every minuscule detail of their home’s health. Nor does the state expect homeowners to promise buyers that their homes are defect-free — a guarantee that would be impossible in most cases. For these reasons, Florida maintains that courts should not, and cannot, hold property owners accountable for undisclosed property defects about which they had no actual knowledge.
The elements of a property defect case
If a buyer does sue you for failing to disclose a property defect, there is a slim chance that he or she will not find success through the Florida courts. To receive a favorable verdict, the buyer must be able to prove that the following is true:
- You had knowledge of the property defect prior to selling the home
- Upon purchase, the buyer was unaware of the defect
- The defect substantially impacted the value of the property
- Discovering the defect him or herself would have been difficult for the buyer
- You did not inform the buyer of the defect, either orally or verbally
It could help your case to have a written and signed disclosure form that details issues of which you are aware. However, even if you do not have a written disclosure, you can avoid mitigating your liability for home defects by working with an experienced real estate lawyer.