Who may be liable or can they be liable for a problem after a real estate purchase?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Who may be liable or can they be liable for a problem after a real estate purchase?

Back In January of this year, we purchased an investment property that is a seasonal cabin. One of the conditions at closing was the owners had to pay for a new septic system to be installed. It was done but at that time the water was turned off due to the winter season so there was no way to check the system. In April the water was turned back on and we went about making renovations. We noticed that water was backing up in both toilets with routine water usage. We had a plumber check it out on 3 separate occasions and he determined that the problem is with the septic system. The installer has agreed to check it out but the question is how liable is he for repairs and/or replacement. A warranty was never issued.

Asked on September 18, 2019 under Real Estate Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

In the absence of a warranty, the former owner is only liable if he committed fraud: that is, if he knowingly or intentionally failed to disclose or lied about a known condition. If a new system was installed, he likely had no reason to know there was still a problem, so it is unlikely that you can prove his knowledge and fraud or hold him liable.

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