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I found roofing issues after I bought my home in 2016. I had an inspection done, but because it is a slate roof the inspector only did it from the ground level as you can’t walk on slate. The previous owners stated that there were no known issues or leaks on the disclosure and they had made repairs after an ice storm one year. The owners also stated in an email that the husbands cousin came and taught him how to do repairs on the roof as he is a slate roofer in Maryland. The previous owner is not a contractor or has any experience in this area. I had a roofer do a further inspection after purchasing because my insurance company wanted a more thorough report before issuing insurance. I did not get it in a timely manner for insurance therefore they still issued me my insurance. I also could not find a roofer willing to climb on until a month and a half to 2 months after purchasing. Upon inspection 2 roofers found that I need a complete tear off and redo of the roof as the repairs the owner did were done incorrectly. Fast forward to winter of 2017 there have been 2 leaks. One worse than the other. Now 2018 I sent them a letter asking them to cover the costs of the replacement and they are refusing. Do I have a case against the previous owners as they did not disclose the issues of the roof when I purchased it?
Asked on May 18, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 5 years ago | Contributor
A seller's liability is only for the intentional nondisclosure or misrepresentation of problems known to them; they do not warranty or guaranty the condition of the house or repairs previously made, and again, are only liable to the buyer for lying about problems. If there is evidence that the seller was aware of the leaks or other problems requiring tear off and rebuild but concealed them from you, you could sue the seller based on fraud (on mispresentating or failing to disclose the issues) for the cost to repair. However, if to seller's knowledge, there were no continuing or existing problems as of when he sold you the house, he is not liable, since in that case, he did not lie about anything and did not commit fraud.
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