Cumberland, MD asked in Real Estate Law and Construction Law for Maryland

Q: Can a seller steal materials and tools to get it through inspection that I (buyer) paid for from our contractor?

We had a 203k loan to buy a house that had a room added but never finished. We ran into many problems including failed inspections, toilet wasn’t installed, stove ran with an electrical cord and more. My contractor with the permission from the sellers started doing some work before closing (our lenders knew to). I paid for new electrical work, plumbing and some work done on the added room out of my pocket. About $5,000 in we learned the added room was sitting above City owned tunnels and they could knock it down if the city needed to get in there. Also when the sellers remodeled the house a few yrs back they didn’t have permits and the house sat without a roof for over a year w/o any protective coverings. The seller called the night befor closing (2 days after Xmas) and said if we don’t close we’re moving on. We didn’t close. The sellers took all of our materials & tools from the house to their new house. I don’t want paid for the work, just materials & tools. We have receipts. Plz hlp

1 Lawyer Answer
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
  • Potomac, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: What could possess you if the notion that you should repair someone else’s house at all without so little as a contract to define the work and what would happen if there was no closing! You are in a very difficult spot, but there might be an argument that you are entitled to the “quantum meruit” of the work. That doesn’t get you the value of the work in most circumstances, and it may not even be available if it contradicts your contract, but it sounds like your best argument. You need to see a litigator with some experience in real estate who practices in your county.

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