If you recently bought or sold a home with an undisclosed material issue (termites, roof leak, flooding basement), Florida law allows sellers to be held accountable. This statute also outlines different parties that could be liable and how long one has to file suit. 

Florida Law Protects Home Buyers From Surprises

When you buy a home in Florida, your purchase has some protection from undisclosed defects under the state’s “Buyer Beware” doctrine. While state law places the burden on the buyer to inspect and determine the condition of a property and holds the seller harmless, there are three key exceptions to this rule:

  1. When a seller purposely interferes with the buyer’s ability to determine a fair assessment of the value and condition of the home, and,
  2. The purchasing party doesn’t have a fair chance to be made aware of the material defect, and,
  3. The seller purposely withholds information or only discloses part of the truth. 

This approach to disclosure and liability post-closing focuses on who holds the financial risk of defective property. So, state law puts a duty on sellers to fully inform buyers about known issues with a home or property for sale. If they fail this duty, buyers can pursue a claim against the individual or agency that sold it. This could lead to a court holding the liable party financially accountable to fix the home’s issues.

Who Could You Hold Liable for Non-Disclosure? 

Typically, the seller is the primary target for lawsuits regarding undisclosed property defects. However, many real estate transactions have multiple agents involved in the selling process who may also have known and didn’t reveal the issues, including:

  • Real estate agents
  • Real estate brokers
  • Appraisers

Get legal guidance to determine if any of these individuals are jointly liable for the damages you suffered from their failure to disclose a property defect. At All Florida Title Company, we are led by real estate litigation attorney Marc Brown, P.A. His years of experience will prove invaluable when determining if the issues with your property post-closing meet the criteria for filing suit.

Defects that Sellers Must Disclose to Buyers in Florida 

Florida Statute 689.261 and other state legislation state what property conditions sellers are required to disclose to buyers: 

  • HOA rules
  • Property taxes
  • Pest history including termites and carpenter ants
  • Condominium Association regulations
  • Structural issues including the roof, central air, and plumbing 
  • Sinkhole risk
  • Mold, lead, and other issues that directly affect human health

While Florida does utilize an “As Is” sales contract that allows sellers to avoid paying for repairs, this type of agreement does not negate state disclosure requirements.

What Does NOT Have to Be Revealed to the Buyer?

Now, not every property issue you might uncover after signing will qualify as a material issue to sue the seller. For example, if someone were killed in the home, they have no legal obligation to tell you about it. It doesn’t matter if they know; the law allows them to omit this information. This same standard applies to situations where a former owner may have had HIV.

State law also doesn’t require realtors or sellers to inspect the property to find any unknown defects. They only have to reveal what they know currently exists. You also must understand that minor issues like wallpaper falling off or outdoor lights not working correctly are not covered. 

Get Legal Advice If You Have a Problem With Your New Florida Home Purchase

Have you recently purchased a home in the Florida area and discovered a serious issue with the property that you weren’t told about. Reach out to All Florida Title Company today to speak with our founder and lead real estate attorney Marc Brown about your issue. Our team may be able to uncover the truth with a comprehensive search of the property history and title to determine if you have a case.

At All Florida Title, we keep informed throughout your real estate transaction and ensure all aspects of it are legally sound. Have questions? Give us a call at 954-566-2200.