What is a seller’s liability for items that breaks down right after closing?

UPDATED: Dec 17, 2011

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What is a seller’s liability for items that breaks down right after closing?

We sold our townhome recently. The new owners threatened to take us to court because a couple of weeks in possession they experienced problems with the garbage disposal/dishwasher unit. They, insist of us covering the costs for repair and service since all should be in working order. We were completely unaware of any issues with the appliances (they were in working order to the best of our knowledge) and also subject of home inspection was removed before the sale.

Asked on December 17, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you did not know of the issues, then you would not be liable for misrepresenting to the buyers. Therefore, unless you provided some warranty or guaranty, you should not be liable at all. However, that may not prevent them from filing a lawsuit, if it might appear from the face of things that you must have known--i.e. it might be logical that you had to know of problem that was evident shortly after closing. The bar to file a lawsuit is lower than what is required to prevail in one. Therefore, if it appears they may go ahead and sue you, you may choose to either pay for the repairs or at least offer some payment in settlement, to avoid the cost and time/distraction of litigation. If you do this, make sure you get them to sign a release from liability, so they can't then threaten to sue you again.

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