When purchasing real estate in Florida, many buyers may ask themselves if they could sue a seller for not disclosing a problem with the property.
Ultimately, if the owner of a newly bought property suffers financial damages resulting from a seller’s failure to disclose information, it is possible to seek justice in court. In this article, you will discover in which situations a buyer can sue a seller after closing in Florida.
Can Buyers Sue Seller After Closing in Florida? – An Introduction
Before determining whether it is possible to sue a seller after closing a real estate transaction, it is crucial to sit down with an expert attorney to assess the entire situation.
The first step is to determine the degree and amount of damages suffered by the buyer. Then, it is possible to identify the culprit behind the damages and the actions that led to the materialization of the issue.
While most buyers tend to have a legal claim against sellers, other parties in a real estate transaction may be liable for a specific problem, including real estate agents, brokers, and appraisers.
Depending on the case, multiple parties may be jointly liable for the financial damages resulting from their failure to disclose a problem with the property before closing.
In this context, it is crucial to act strategically, as these defendants (i.e., realtors, brokers, appraisers) may be better suited to cover a buyer’s financial injuries than the seller of the property.
Hence, if there is feasible ground to include these parties, it is crucial to show evidence of their errors, omissions, and/or malpractice when filing the lawsuit.
What Are the Seller’s Disclosure Obligations in Florida?
In Florida, the seller’s disclosure obligations during a real estate transaction are expressed both in Florida Statutes (Fla. Sta. §689.261) and case law (Johnson v. Davis, 480 So.2d 625 (Fla. 1985)). Accordingly, sellers must disclose information such as:
- Problems affecting the property’s structure/building (e.g., plumbing, roofing, air conditioning system, etc.)
- Problems that may harm the health of occupants (e.g., mold, drywall issues, etc.)
- Property taxes (full picture)
- Condominium and HOA-related regulations (if applicable)
- The existence of sinkholes (or whether the property is prone to sinkholes)
- The property’s past experience with pests (e.g., termites, carpenter ants, etc.)
Many real estate contracts include an “As Is” clause, affirming that the buyer is accepting to acquire a property as it is and excusing the seller from paying any repairs. Nonetheless, an “As Is” clause will not excuse the seller against the legal duty to disclose these problems to prospective buyers.
What Does a Seller Is Not Obligated to Disclose in Florida?
Florida law does not obligate sellers to disclose all facts concerning a property.
For example, a seller has no legal obligation to disclose whether someone died in the property (even if there was a criminal incident inside the premises) or if the prior occupants were HIV-positive or suffered from AIDS.
Florida law also provides that no seller is obligated to reveal problems that they did know about a property. Accordingly, there is no requirement for sellers to investigate the property to search for hidden defects on the buyer’s behalf.
Ultimately, filing a lawsuit against a seller for failure to disclose requires the plaintiff to show a material defect with the property. Otherwise, the court will not accept a minor detail as a feasible ground for this type of legal action.
Can Buyers Sue Seller After Closing in Florida? – Have Your Case Assessed by an Expert Attorney
Determining whether it is possible to sue a property seller after closing requires an expert approach. Waste no time with uncertainty – call Attorney Romy B. Jurado today at (305) 921-0976 or email [email protected] to schedule a consultation.