Q: i bought a houseboat without getting a marine survey. after the transaction it was discovered that the transom had
dry rot rendering the boat unsafe. this info was actively concealed by the seller. can you sell about you know to be unsafe?
I've been in that boat! Had to fix it myself. If you believe that the seller knew of the dangerous condition but did not reveal it and actively concealed it, you may have been defrauded. Small Claims jurisdiction is up to $10.000. If you hire an attorney, you will be pouring more money into the vessel, and you cannot get it back. Was there any warranty with the sale? Silly question, I know but had to ask. You have documentation on the sale and the represented conditions? Gather your best evidence and take it to the Judge. You will have a chance to mediate and if the seller offers you some money, or is willing to take the vessel back, do it. Oh, this is probably not really Admiralty/maritime law. Probably fraud.
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Not having a survey presents challenges. Older vessels could experience problems in sandwiched components that are balsa-cored. It's possible a survey might be necessary to identify evidence of whether a condition was the result of concealment or the result of a latent defect. You could speak with a California attorney and surveyor, but these cases can sometimes be difficult, depending on the condition. Good luck
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