If I purchased a home and was told that the basement does not leak by both the seller and home inspector but it does leak, what rights do I have?

UPDATED: Jul 3, 2015

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If I purchased a home and was told that the basement does not leak by both the seller and home inspector but it does leak, what rights do I have?

Asked on July 3, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

IF the seller either knew or reasonably must have known (i.e. given the nature of the leak, there is no logical way the seller, given his/her use or occupancy of the home could not have known) about the leak but misrepresented (lied about) it, then the seller may have committed fraud and you may be able to recover (e.g. in a lawsuit) compensation, such as the cost for appropriate water proofing (e.g. french drains).

The home inspector would only be liable if the leak should have been visually detected at the time of the inspection--which would most likely mean it had been raining long enough at that time for water to actually be in the process of leaking into the basement somewhere the inspector could sue it; or there was *obvious* water damage or staining which he overlooked. In that event, the inspector may have been negligent and you could in theory sue him, subject however to any limitations on liability or lawsuits contained in the service agreement or contract you signed with the inspector, since such limitations in a contract are legal and enfoceable.

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