Port Charlotte, FL asked in Real Estate Law for Florida

Q: We just purchased a house and the septic has failed, our realtor did not get a disclosure statement from the sellers.

We were told that the seller moved abroad and there was nothing we can do. We have now got to try and pay over $6,000 for a completely new system. The septic guy asks if we have a white shed in the back , I say yes how does he know this, the seller covered up a hole in the tank with a piece of white siding. Anyways as usual a waste of time, buyer beware and thanks for the reply !

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1 Lawyer Answer

Jonathan A. Klurfeld

Answered
  • Boca Raton, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: This is why you hire an attorney when buying or selling real estate; unfortunately, FL is one of the states that does not require an attorney to close. If sellers moved out of the country you can sue them all you want but likely have a useless piece of paper that will cost more than $6,000 to sue and collect abroad.

Regardless, disclosure cases are also very tough; seller only needs to disclose defects that they know or should have known about, and it is the buyer's burden to prove that with evidence somehow if buyer sues. Often times things just happen and no one knew about. For example, if the next owner/tenant in your old house discovered faulty wiring inside the drywall, does that automatically mean you knew about it? Of course not, most homeowners have no clue something is wrong until there are major symptoms to call someone. So something breaking doesn't mean seller knew or had a clue. You would need evidence somehow that seller called someone about it to come fix it.

But again, it sounds like it will cost you over $6,000 to hire an attorney, court costs, and serving them overseas; so likely a waste of time and money.

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