Legal Principles That Allow You To Sue For Undisclosed Property Defects

Posted on: 29 September 2016


When you discover hidden defects on a property you just bought, you can sue the seller for failing to disclose the defects before the sale. However, failure to disclose isn't the only legal principle that allows you to seek redress in such a situation. Here are two more legal principles you can rely on to get legal redress:


Fraud is an intentional deception that leads to financial gain. In the case of property defects, a seller commits fraud if they intentionally lie to the buyer about the condition of the property being sold. Such an intentional deception benefits the seller since the hidden defects would have reduced the value of their properties.

The key to proving fraud is to prove the seller's intentions, which is not an easy thing to do. For example, you can't accuse a seller of deception if they did not know about hidden termite infestation in their property. You have to dig deep and prove that they knew about the pests, but covered it up so you could buy the property.

Apart from proving the seller's intentions, you also need to prove that you relied on the seller's deception to purchase the property. This involves proving that you bought the property because of what the seller said, and you wouldn't have bought it if they would have told you the truth or if you could have uncovered it in any other way. As you can see, this is difficult to prove if you had the home inspected because the inspection is supposed to uncover property defects.

Breach of Contract

A breach of contract is a failure to perform a promise included in a contract.  Buying a house is a contract where the seller agrees to hand over their property in the condition described in exchange for your money. Therefore, the seller breaches the contract if they fail to meet their contractual obligations, for example, by failing to provide you with a house with all the amenities listed.

For example, the purchase contract should include the availability and condition of amenities like a stove, washing machine, and dishwasher. If the seller agrees to the contract, they need to provide you with all the amenities listed in the contract. The seller, therefore, breaches they contract when they sell you a house with a missing amenity that was listed in the contract.

As you can see, there are multiple legal principles you can rely on to claim damages when someone sells you a defective house. This is a major benefit of consulting a real estate attorney before suing a property seller. The attorney will explore all the possible legal principles and proceed with the ones you can prove.