Would you retain an attorney?

@soccermom (3200)
United States
August 7, 2007 7:39pm CST
Hi MyLotters! I know it's been awhile but life has been insane. Anyway, I have a serious question and am hoping for help. The area I live in experienced some crazy rain last night. A big portion of our city flooded, and so did the lower level of my house. Hubby and I were ticked becaue we had a storm like this 11 months ago, before we owned the house and the owner then told us he never had a problem with rain and leakage in the basement. We're talking 6 inches of water here people. Anyway, when we had the house inspected there did appear to be some old signs of leakage, which we asked about, and the answer was if we make sure the back rain spout stays on there is no issue. WE specifically asked if we finished the lower level (the drywall was already up, it is an exposed bi level)to put another bedroon down there and a rec room if it would be fine, and the seller said yes. Signed a disclosure saying so. He had lived here 16 years, so we took his word. Well, we were tearing up brand new carpet today, and hubby had to remove some trim. Behind the trim was mold. So we tore out part of the wall and to our amazement not only were the walls moldy, there was rot where the foundation met the frame and there was dirt piling in. There is NO WAY we feel the deller would have been able to finish the basement without knowing the issue here. We just bought the house in September. We have a professional coming tomorrow to give us an estimate to fix our house. My question is do you think we could sue the seller for false disclosure? There is no way this damage is just caused, and our neighbors have told us he always had this issue. Has anyone out there dealt with a situation like this before? I appreciate any help, my hubby and I can't afford this.
4 people like this
13 responses
@pilbara (1436)
• Australia
8 Aug 07
Sorry I don't know enough to help here. There are 2 issues 1) The false information 2) Damage done to the house. However, if this person did sign such a declaration then you may be able to sue them, but you would really have to talk to someone who knows about such things. It may mean that you either have to do some work or you have to accept that room cannot be furnished in the way you would like. An insurance company would be of more help with issue 2, but I don't know that I would raise issue 1 with them.
2 people like this
@soccermom (3200)
• United States
8 Aug 07
I am an insurance agent, and unfortunately it won't do me any good. Policies don't cover flood unless you have a flood policy through the government, and since we don't live in a flood plain it wasn't necessary. I'm just ticked off because the seller knew about the issues, didn't truthfully disclose when asked, and now we're literally up a creek.
• United States
8 Aug 07
I am probably a bad one to answer this, being a former paralegal for over 20 years, my response is YES, retain an attorney, either get recommendations from friends or go to your local Bar Association to get a recommendation, NEVER, look in the phone book. But YES, you need to contact someone regarding legal action you can take on this lying seller. Good luck with this. If you need some help on where to find an attorney send me a private PM and I might be able to help you.
1 person likes this
@sid556 (31005)
• United States
8 Aug 07
kates...could you get any cuter...re read your post...texas SLAY gal? just kiddin..had to be the first to point it out. sorry
1 person likes this
@soccermom (3200)
• United States
8 Aug 07
Thanks texas. I found an attorney through my insurance agency who referred me to an attorney that specializes in this. What a mess. It's going to cost a small fortune, and even of we win a lawsuit there's no guarantee we can get this loser to pay. I am so frustrated.
1 person likes this
• United States
8 Aug 07
Don't be frustrated, be resilent, if you win you can get a judgment against the guy and you will be able to take his income tax return and anything else he obtains, so don't look bleak, actually it is wonderful that you found an attorney, just document and take pictures of everything NOW while it is still FRESH in your mind, keep me apprised.
1 person likes this
@KrisNY (7591)
• United States
9 Aug 07
Soccermom- I wondered where you have been- and have missed your discussions! My advice to you is to go and speak with an attorney- For sure- I know alot of attorneys will speak with you and not charge for the Consultation. I would think that you have a great case- especially if he signed a disclosure saying that the basement was fine and have never had any problems prior like that- And then you find moldy walls and other junk- I'm not sure if you will win- to prove that he actually knew- but it's worth the shot- Check out it with a lawyer and see what they have to say- Take the disclosure and other closing documents with you- I'm sorry! that you have all this work to do-
@soccermom (3200)
• United States
9 Aug 07
Hi Kris! Yeah, I've been missing myLot lately, I've just been so busy. Boss is on vacation until the end of September, trying to get the kids back to school, trying to liuve up to my board member duties and help organize fall league with soccer(which I wish I'd never signed up for since my oldest is playing for the school this year). Then all this. The guy that is working on he estimate said they may need to tear one whole corner of my house out to fix the problem, and that the inspector was an idiot not to have noticed this. All I know is it is going to cost money that we just don't have. Hubby can't possibly put in any more than the 60-72 hours he does already, so I'm going back to my work at home call center job for extra income. So much for kicking the energy drink addiction! LOL But on a positive note, everyone here is healthy and safe, or so I'm telling myself so I don't have a total breakdown. We had a phone consult with the attorney, and a meeting with him on Monday. I'm going to have to ask my parents to loan us a couple thousand for the retainer if we need one, it just sucks. Thanks for thinking of me!!
1 person likes this
• Canada
11 Aug 07
Hi, SoccerMom! What a nightmare. I'm just curious--did your inspector use a moisture meter at all? Such a meter is very sensitive and will detect the presence of water in every case, even if it is found in extremely minute amounts. The home inspectors I use (here in Ontario, Canada) also carry errors and omissions insurance, and they guarantee their work or risk massive lawsuits. I don't know if your home inspectors are as rigorously regulated as ours are, but it may be worth asking if the inspector's errors and omissions insurance can be used to pay for the damage. The Realtor should also carry errors and omissions insurance (up here a Realtor will lose his/her real estate license if you are so much as one day late (!) in renewing your coverage for E/O insc'e. And you have to requalify all over again, which is a real pain in the b***! It sounds like you may have a case against the Vendor, the home inspector, and the two brokerages (Realtors, unless they deal as Brokers of Record--meaning they own the brokerage firm--transact deals under the licence of the brokerages they are with, like Coldwell Banker, Century 21, MinCom, etc.), and the Vendor's and your individual realtors. The brokerages will also carry their own errors and omissions insc'e, apart from the individual Realtor's E/O insc'e. So, dry your tears, square your shoulders, get excellent legal advice, and go, go, GOAL! Yaaay, SoccerMom!!!
• United States
8 Aug 07
Oh my, what a nightmare! I'd say the seller, the inspector and teh rwal estate agent are all at fault. And it's a serious offense to lie on the seller's disclosure, so I would absolutely contact an attorney. Hopefully this will all get settled for you without you having to spend a fortune. Keep us posted, soccermom!
1 person likes this
@soccermom (3200)
• United States
8 Aug 07
Did I mention that the inspector was the realtors husband? She gave us 4 names of inspectors, but her husband was the only local one, and had decent references. Maybe we should've known better, but I am smelling conflict of interest here. She was really nasty to me on the phone today and told me she didn't think there was anything we could do, and wasn't sure we could even find the seller. Well I have news for her, I found the seller myself, quite easily, so obviosly she's trying to shy us away from this.
@Daelin (683)
• Brazil
8 Aug 07
You said the house went through an inspection. Was it before you bought it? If you knew about the problem before even if the previous owner didn't say anything, then I don't think you could sue him. But I could be wrong. The law system in my country is totally different from yours. Here if I buy a house I am suppose to make an inspection. If the problem is so hidden that not even an inspection could show it, and if it is clear that the owner did know about the problem, then I can sue him.
1 person likes this
@soccermom (3200)
• United States
8 Aug 07
We had it inspected before we bought it, and then again the day before we closed. The seller was asked about what appeared to have possibly been water damage and he said there had never been any. He lived there for 16 years, and all the neighbors say he did have problems and had to have been aware. We're suing.
• United States
8 Aug 07
I have had a few legal problems/questions and I have had great result with this link and its free. I have also used it for expert advice on pets, plants etc. However the law question was answered and saved me a ton of money. http://allexperts.com/askq_result3.asp
1 person likes this
@soccermom (3200)
• United States
8 Aug 07
Thanks for the link, I'll check it out. This has turned into such a nightmare that I'm questioning why the hell I ever wanted to own a home to begin with.
@fpd1955 (2075)
• United States
8 Aug 07
I would think you would be able to sue. A previous poster said to get recommendations from friends or the bar association to find one. The least you could do is get some kind of free consultation from an attorney. If he/she thinks you have a case and can sue...do it! After all, the previous owner DID sign a disclosure! When we bought our house, the owners lied to us too. Nothing as serious as what happened to you happened to us. It was things that we discovered after living here for awhile. In hindsight, we should have had the inspector come with us through the final walkthrough to make sure all of the problems were taken care of as we requested. We only had him come out for the initial inspection. We were in a tough spot. We were moving from New York and had a relative as our realtor in Illinois. I find it so ironic that she hasn't even called us once, after selling us the house, to see how things are going. It kind of pisses me off!! PEACE
1 person likes this
@soccermom (3200)
• United States
8 Aug 07
We paid for two inspections, and everything seemed fine. When there was an issue the seller took care of it and swore that there was not water problems. Our realtor has been really great, and has kept touch even when she didn't have to. We found an attorney, I guess we'll see ho this plays out.
@Lakota12 (42684)
• United States
8 Aug 07
Oh I would really sue for he knew exactly what the flooding did he just wanted to sell and get out of there . Do sue him! good luck take pics and all
1 person likes this
• United States
8 Aug 07
I would contact an attorney who does free consultations. That's the only way you're going to find out what your options are where you live. Laws vary state to state. Personally, I would think there's a reason why he had to sign the disclosure stating there was no problem. But don't take my word for it.
• China
8 Aug 07
if i were you i will not believe the one who will sell his things to me i will check it for myself if you have the evidences maybe you can retain an attorney
@sid556 (31005)
• United States
8 Aug 07
I do think y ou possibly do have a case and yes..you should retain a lawyer! You would have to prove that the owner had knowledge of such damage. He lived there for 16 years and it sounds as if he had to know. I would at least talk to an attorney and find if you have a case.
1 person likes this
• Canada
8 Aug 07
I am not familiar with the real estate laws in your area, but here in Ontario,Canada, nondisclosure of material facts that may affect whether or not a sale would have ensued (presence of mould, rotting wood framing in the foundation, water damage, for instance) could trigger massive lawsuits (ouch!). Real estate here is very highly regulated both through legislation and industry self policing. The Real Estate Council of Ontario, which is a government body that looks after the education and licensing of Realtors in Ontario is doing a thorough clean up of the industry, to help both the consumer and the real estate professional. In a case like yours, if it happened here, and the property was listed by a Realtor, the Vendor/Seller would have had to fill up a Seller's Property Information Schedule, which has a long list of questions that ferrets out the "stuff" in a house that should be disclosed in good faith by Vendor to Buyer. Flooding, plumbing, heating, mould--they're all in there. However, even though the Vendor signs this disclosure, the Buyer and his agent will still need to exercise due diligence (get the house fully inspected, add a clause that the Vendor will pay for the cost of premium for getting a warranty for whatever parts of the house seem suspect, maybe that disclosure that your Vendor signed could be made an amendment to your agreement of purchase and sale, with a restitution section in case that which you fear does come about, etc.). If it could be proved that you were flimflammed, you may have recourse. My advice: get a very, very good real estate lawyer with a good reputation, who will take the time to explain your options (and the cost, of course). Good luck, SoccerMom! Do you have house insurance? If you do, find out if the flooding and subsequent damage is covered. :-D
@flowerchilde (12547)
• United States
8 Aug 07
At first I thought it was out of the ordinary flooding, which seems to happen in different places every year... but then as I read on, I realized there was evidence of water damage.. so unless the house is in a flood plane, it seems there has been a problem with leakage. I suppose since he had finished it(?) he would know of this? Seems like he would have taken it more seriously.. unless he did the remodeling for the sale.. - I guess I would do some sort of search on these types of legal cases to see how they usually end up, especially in your area.