Miami, FL asked in Real Estate Law and Environmental for Florida

Q: Who is typically responsible for environmental hazard disclosures in home sale transactions?

After receiving a letter from an environmental cleanup consultant firm on behalf of a large company responsible for a chemical spill, I was informed that my house is situated on a 2008 chemical spill plume that was estimated to take 78 years to clean up. The letter said that, at one point, the person who sold me the house was informed of and compensated for the damages.

The chemical spill was never disclosed at any time or on any document during the transaction and I can't imagine that this wouldn't effect the value of the home. Who should be held most accountable for not making this aspect of the property known? The seller for not disclosing? The home inspection company I hired to inspect the property? Would it be the realtors,who are collecting a sizable payment in exchange for being expected to thoroughly research the product they are selling ? Or, perhaps myself for not practicing enough due diligence?

1 Lawyer Answer
Jonathan A. Klurfeld
Jonathan A. Klurfeld
  • Boca Raton, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: The sellers have the duty to disclose legally. The realtors have zero duty to look into the background of the house; they're job is mostly transnational (paperwork etc). The home inspector would have never found this out from walking around the house for an hour, that is likely a dead end. You would have to retain a lawyer and sue the prior owner for your damages and/or loss in property value versus what you paid for it.

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