A gas leak is a major safety issue not only for the occupants but also from anyone even near the property. A gas leak also makes the home uninhabitable until repaired. This is not legal advice but instead plain and simple practical opinions. According to your statement:
"My husband then called the gas company again and found that the selling agent called the gas company b/c the interior of the house smelled of gas, the gas company came out and said that there could be a leak in the house, turned the gas off and took the meter. This all happened 1 week before we made and offer on the house."
According to the rules of the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) and the Texas Administrative Code (TAC) http://info.sos.state.tx.us/pls/pub,
the responsibilities of the Agent are :
RULE Â§531.1 Fidelity
A real estate broker or salesperson, while acting as an agent for another, is a fiduciary. Special obligations are imposed when such fiduciary relationships are created. They demand:
(1) that the primary duty of the real estate agent is to represent the interests of the agent's client, and the agent's position, in this respect, should be clear to all parties concerned in a real estate transaction; that, however, the agent, in performing duties to the client, shall treat other parties to a transaction fairly;
(2) that the real estate agent be faithful and observant to trust placed in the agent, and be scrupulous and meticulous in performing the agent's functions;
(3) that the real estate agent place no personal interest above that of the agent's client.
RULE Â§531.2 Integrity
A real estate broker or salesperson has a special obligation to exercise integrity in the discharge of the licensee's responsibilities, including employment of prudence and caution so as to avoid misrepresentation, in any wise, by acts of commission or omission.
Since you are able to prove that the gas leak was known before your offer then you certainly should have been told about this significant safety threat. Unfortunately a Bank in possession of a property has no responsibility to notify a potential buyer with a disclosure form. However, this does not release an Agent from notifying anyone and everyone of a potential for a life threatening situation on a property. Yes, the gas serving company did pull the meter and shut down service. However, your choice to not make a bid on the property was usurped by not making this condition known. You have expended time and money on purchasing this property when potentially you may have chosen not to. Additionally the extent of the leak is unknown and had the purchaser used a loan source not requiring activation of the utilities prior to a loan approval then the buyer could have been handed a potentially major issue to deal with after loan closing.
At the very least I would approach the Broker of the listing agency and request compensation for your losses. You do have rights and remedies through the Texas Real Estate Commission. They are outlined on their WEB site.
Emmanuel J. Scanlan
PS Inspection & Property Services LLC
TREC License # 7593
International Code Council, Residential Combination Inspector #5247015-R5 (Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing and Building)
Certified Infrared Thermographer (ASNT-TC1A Standards)
Texas Residential Construction Commission, Third Party Warranty Inspector #1593
Texas Residential Construction Commission, Inspector, County Inspection Program
Texas Department Of Insurance, VIP Inspector # 08507061016
Hayman Residential Engineering Services, Field Technician
CMC Energy - Certified Energy Auditor
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