Can I sue a home inspector or real estate agent?

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Can I sue a home inspector or real estate agent?

My fianc and I moved into our house almost 1 year ago. We had the home inspected by a licensed inspector who was recommended by our real estate agent. After purchasing the home and owning it for less than 1 year we have several leaks in our roof after being told the roof would last 50-100 years clay tile and it is only 20 years old. Is it possible to go after the inspector for negligence or

real estate agent to get money for this roof estimated 30k or perhaps the previous owners as they must have known? The roofers I had come look at this said this problem did not just pop up but instead it has been like this for a while. How do I proceed?

Asked on March 11, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

1) You cannot sue the realtor: the realtor is under no obligation to determine the condition of the home for him/herself, and may rely on what the homeowner tells them. They are not liable for the home's condition.
2) In theory, you can sue the inspector, but there are two hurdles:
a) You have to be able to show that the inspector was unreasonably careless or negligent: the means you have to show that the reasonable average inspector would have detected the problems with the roof given a visual only inspection of the outside of the roof (not pulling anything up to look underneath, for example) made the day the home was inspected (presumably, a day it was not raining), and it may be very difficult to show that.
b) Look at the service agreement or contract with the inspector--usually, they limit the inspector's liability to the cost of the inspection, so you cannot get back more than you paid, which may not be worth taking actino over. (Such contractual limititations on liability are legal and enforceable.)
3) You can sue the homeowner but must be able to prove they committed fraud, or lied by not disclosing a known problem--so you have to be able to prove in cour that they did or logically must have known of the leaks. That essentially means the roof must have leaked on them--even if the roof was older or had problems developing, if it had never leaked on them, they would have had no problem to suspect a problem.


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