One thing is lawyers will often take on a case and lead clients on a needless goose chase because all lawyers don’t research case law for similar issues as their client case.
Result; the lawyer gets paid (lose or win) onlyfor client to have a decision by the courts that do not find in favour of the complainants.
This to me is negligence on the part of the lawyer who is lazy and needlessly leads the client on.
So like home inspectors there are good and bad, and going to a lawyer foradvice as with everything is no guarantee he is a ethical, knowledgeable lawyer.
Hergott: Holding the seller of a homeaccountable
Lawyer Paul Hergott dives into theissues of buying a home
- [FONT=Helvetica]Nov.27, 2018 9:00 a.m.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]Is a seller accountable for problems youdiscover about a house you’ve purchased?[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]It’s been years since I’ve handled acase like that, so I had to do a little research to find the answer for afriend.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]It didn’t take long to find a recentcase on point, Nixon v. MacIver, 2016 BCCA 8 .](https://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/ca/16/00/2016BCCA0008.htm) Legaldecisions can be difficult to understand, even for lawyers, so please do notrely on anything you think you understand from that case without consultingwith a lawyer.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]A house purchase is the biggestinvestment most of us will ever make. And we tend to stretch our financiallimits when doing so. Expensive problems discovered after taking possession canbe financially devastating.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]Holding the seller accountable, if it iseven possible, is a disaster in itself when you consider the legal expense andtime required to do so.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]You might have the seller dead to rightson misrepresenting the age of the roof. An excellent legal case. One that isvery likely to succeed. But unlike cash that you can put towards a new roof,legal cases take time and legal expense to pursue.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]And all you get at the end of asuccessful legal case is a judgment directing the seller to pay you money incompensation. It’s an unsecured “account receivable” that might never be paid.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]So that leads to my key advice on thispoint: Don’t let it happen in the first place.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]Don’t you dare purchase a home withoutfirst having it inspected by a qualified, thorough and insured home inspector.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]And please don’t hire an inspector basedon price. Doing so is about as sensible as shopping around for the cheapestbabysitter for your children. An inspection is only as good as the inspector.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]And you also don’t want to end up with alawsuit against an inspector who misses something.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]Is an inspection necessary with a brandnew construction? Absolutely. Perhaps even more so.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]There are other steps you can take toresearch a property before finalizing a deal that I don’t have off the top ofmy head. Consult with a real estate lawyer to learn more.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]Taking these reasonable steps toindependently learn about potential problems with a property fits exactly withthe legal principle of “caveat emptor,” which in the words of the judge in thecase I referred to: “…remains very much alive in the context of real estatetransactions in BC” (paragraph 47 of the case).[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]Those Latin words translate to “buyerbeware.”[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]The court specifically referred toproperty condition disclosure statements that purchasers so often rely on. Avendor must be honest when completing those statements, but the statementsrequire only information within the vendor’s actual knowledge. And thatknowledge does not have to be correct.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]And while those statements appear to becomprehensive, covering any possible problem you could encounter with a home.They are not.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]Using the roofing example, the statementasks, “Are you aware of any roof leakage or unrepaired roof damage?” A vendorcould honestly answer “no” to that question even with full knowledge that theroof is on its last legs.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]In the case I cited, the vendor’sdisclosure that the home was only approximately six years old, even though ithad been a cobbled together construction that included a much older cabin, wasnot sufficient to make the vendor accountable for problems that surfacedrelated to the age of the cabin.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]Yes, a seller must be honest when answeringthe specific questions a property condition disclosure statement, but honestanswers might well be wrong and the statement is far from comprehensive.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]Apart from that, the seller of a homehas no obligation to alert you to problems except in the very narrowcircumstance where the seller knows about a defect that could not have beenidentified by a property inspector, and which would render the home dangerousor uninhabitable.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]End up with a lemon house? Consult with alawyer for advice specifically related to your situation. You might well have apersuadable claim.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]But as is always is the case, the bestlawsuit is no lawsuit at all. Take the words “buyer beware” seriously and don’trely on anything you are told by a seller or the realtors involved.[/FONT]