First year of home ownership

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First year of home ownership

My wife an I bought a house almost a year ago. Last year’s mild winter brought no big issues. However this year we had some water pooling in a section of our basement.

When we ripped up the basement carpet we found some wood beams embedded in the foundation that were exposed. It look liked there were some gaps in the beams also where the wood had rotted away. Not sure if that is normal or not, but those beams has some gaps in them and some were definitely soaked through to the point that it was soft when were searching for the cause of the water pooling. We think this year freeze and rain / early thaw in Janauary caused the water table to rise, soak the beams and pool in our basement.

We didn’t see any leaks from pipes, and other common sources of water. And it only happened once significantly, but I am wary now of a long term issue.

I don’t know how this has only happened now, and not while the previous owners were living here. This was not something we were made aware of at all.

Thank you,

AJ

Asked on February 18, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You could sue the former owners for fraud, since a failure to disclose a known problems or issue is fraud. If you win the suit, you could recover repair and remediation costs. 
The key is, you have be able to prove they were aware, or logically must have been aware, of the problem. Since you had at least one winter (last winter) with no problems, this could be difficult: you lack evidence that this was an ongoing, obvious-enough, and common-enough problem, which started long enough ago, that the sellers would necessarly have known. For example, it is consistent with what your write that the problem only developed to a point where it is visible recently. Even if there had been prior water infilitration, if was was occuring below the flooring, where it was not visible, the prior owners would not be expected to know of it; and if they did no know of it, they would not be liable.


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