Home Buying in Cook County>Question Details

Ann, Home Buyer in Chicago suburbs, Ill...

Do I have a legal case for misrepresentation?

Asked by Ann, Chicago suburbs, Illinois Mon Jan 5, 2009

I purchased a home in the fall that was listed as a three-bedroom home with the third bedroom being in a finished attic. Now that it's January, the temperature in this "third bedroom" fluctuates between 20-40 degrees. There is virtually no heat coming from the room's single vent, and according to estimates, the problem can cost thousands to fix. The "bedroom" is poorly insulated as well. Can I sue the seller for misrepresenting this home as a "three bedroom"? I'm in Cook County, IL.

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Ann -

Did you have a home inspection completed before you purchased? Most home inspectors will take readings from vents when testing out the HVAC to see what the output is. If your furnace is three or four levels down in the basement, most likely there is just no heat left by the time it reaches the third bedroom. I lived in a townhome where the four bedrooms on the third level got only a small amount of heat because the vents were at "the end of the line" so to speak. The only solution for us was to close vents we didn't need on the levels below, thus to increase heat upstairs.

The first thing you should do is call the city inspection office and see if proper permits were pulled on the attic space when it was finished. If no permits were pulled, then you could have a legal case, according to Cook County rules regarding bedrooms. If proper permits were pulled and the bedroom is legal, then you might not have a case. When it comes to misrepresentation, you will have to prove that the parties were misleading you, something that is fairly hard to prove, especially when it comes to the real estate agent that sold the house and thier brokerage.

Before you threaten to sue, do some homework on the finished attic space first...then seek the advice of an attorney.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 5, 2009
If you'd like a referral for my Chicago attorney, let me know, I'll be happy to pass his info along. Good luck, Ann!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 5, 2009
When I lived in Chicago, I had an attorney that was part of the representation I procured to protect my interests as a buyer and seller on every property I bought and sold. I was an owner occupant. I would suggest you consult the attorney you had representing you. If you did not have an attorney, first call should be to your agent and see what they recommend. Perhaps they can refer you to an attorney. From there, just compile information before you move forward. Information is power.

As for the temperature problems, are you using a space heater or something to make the room usable for the time being? i would hate to see you incur damage because it just gets too cold up there.

Good luck, Ann!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 5, 2009
Thank you for your quick responses.


Yes, I did have an inspection done.
No concerns about the heat were raised at the time.

The sellers are very unreasonable and were hostile during our closing. If I pursue the issue, I will have to be prepared for a legal battle :( I wouldn't expect the seller's agent to know about the heat issue, but certianly after decades of living in the house, the sellers knew.

Is there a legal definition of what is considered a "bedroom"? This third one is simply not livable.
Thanks for all your help!

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 5, 2009

Litigation issues are best responded to by attorneys. Your question is one that real estate professionals have no business commenting on.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 5, 2009
I have to agree with Cameron...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 5, 2009
It would be important to know if you had an inspection done prior to closing. if you did not exercise this right,you may have difficulty claiming misrepresentation.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 5, 2009

You will need to talk to an attorney about whether or not you can sue someone.

Your possible targets are:

The MLS probably has something that claims "information is reliable but not guaranteed"
The Seller - possibly but in most areas you will be splitting hairs over the legal definition of a bedroom.
The Listing Broker - your best target but still will be splitting hairs.

Before we get sue happy though - try the reasonable person approach. Call your agent and have them call the listing agent and simply explain the situation (they will probably them call the seller). Give them the estimates that you received and try to work on this as a reasonable person talking to a reasonable person. Don't use threats or tell them that you are angry simply tell them that you relied on their information and it turns out that it wasn't accurate. If they don't budge or blow you off then try the courts but starting at "I am going to sue you" will get you nowhere.

Cameron Piper
Web Reference: http://www.campiper.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 5, 2009
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