Who is responsible to fix/replace water heater?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Who is responsible to fix/replace water heater?

My mother recently bought a house. On the day of the inspection the gentleman said there was water or moisture at the bottom of the water heater. He couldn’t check it since the gas was not turned on. By the time that the gas company turned the gas on, she was already moving into the home. Gas company said it was not properly installed as the inspector said also and it wasnt venting. We called a plumber and the plumber said the water heater is broken. The real estate agent doesn’t seem like he’s helping a lot with trying to find out what needs to be done. Home warranty doesn’t cover is because inspection report says there was moisture inder it and they are saying that it was a previous problem prior to my mother getting the home warranty. She had to purchase a new water heater after a week because she takes care of my handicapped brother. Now she needs to find who could install. Who is responsible for the water heater? Evaluation said everything was fine. I don’t understand how it broke so soon.

Asked on February 26, 2018 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

There might be no one responsible, unfortunately:
1) A warranty your mother purchased would not cover pre-existing conditions generally, though she should review the terms of the warrant to see what it does--and does not--cover. Such a warranty is a contract, and covers whatever it says it does.
2) The inspector is not liable if the gas was not turned on--he could not then check to see the cause, how it functioned, etc.
3) The seller would be liable only IF he was aware of the problem and, despite being aware of the problem, failed to disclose it--that is, basically lied about it. You have to prove the seller's knowledge of the condition to hold the seller liable, since liability is based on misrepresentting (lying, including by omission) about the issue, and you can't misrepresent what you are unaware of.

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