Seller's Liability for Undisclosed Defects

Asked by Mike, 19702 Sat Sep 26, 2009

I closed on a townhome in Delaware this week. The home inspection came back with a few items which were addressed. After the settlement closing while cleaning up the bathroom, I lifted the bathtub mat (which had been left) to clean the tub. When I lifted it, along with it came a large piece of sealant which had been covering a 6 inch crack in the plastic floor of the tub. The crack appears to have been patched several times to no avail. After removing the old carpet in the adjoining bedroom, water staining was evident coming from the bathroom. Do I have any recourse as this tub damage seems to have been intentionally hidden by the rubber shower mat the entire time. I feel this is something that should have been disclosed by the sellers and that they were downright deceitful. Neither myself nor my realtor nor my home inspector thought to check under the mat. The tub obviously needs replaced now and possible water damage may be revealed under it. What recourse do I have at this point?

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Karen, Home Buyer, Newark, DE
Wed Mar 7, 2012
We closed on a house in newark delaware 19713 in October 2011. The very next day we had water coming theough the walls to the basement. The sealant around drain in the tub was not done properly. Then a few days later it rained ...water came into the basement adjancent where the water came through the wall. It is noted in the inspection sheet that the sellar saw water once in basement but when the electric was turned on they never saw again. Well the electic to the sump works but does not draw in water. during rain no water ever in the sump pump? Also where the water came in all the paint has come off the wall. You can see how they covered it up with paint.
We sent a letter of intent ..Seller denies all. The cost to repair is 13,000-15,000. Should we get the area fixed or should we persue further. We found to neighbors who can testify that water in the house and rotten dry wall removed .
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Debra (Debbi…, Agent, Livingston, NJ
Tue Feb 16, 2010
This is a tough one, Mike, and I can inderstand your frustration.

It is difficult to prove consumer fraud, which would be the case if the seller knowingly held back information regarding a defect.

They may very well have "caulked" the tub which they felt took care of any issue. It's possible the water damage noted in the flooring was old, and no leak currently existed., They may have assumed that your inspector saw what he needed to see. It's not as though they put a piece of furniture over a defect......a tub mat is easily I said, it will be difficult to prove they tried to purposely deceive you. And, if there is no current leak, then their improvised caulking may have solved the problem from their point of view...and that may have been years it a tub that was actively used?

That being can always call a real estate attorney for a professional opinion. In NJ, we use attorneys, so that would be our logical place ot start.

Best wishes..........
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stop foreclo…, Both Buyer And Seller, Delaware
Tue Feb 16, 2010
If the mat was there, and has been used. Meaning not new, then the owners might not have known about the crack. If it was new then you can say they did know about it. All in all I say it would fall back to your home inspector. That is what he/she got paid for. to open everything, look over and under everything. Pull back carpet if they can. you might look into bathtub refinishing, most refinishers can repair a crecked tub for much less then buying a new on.
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