(Property) Attorney friends: Does anyone have a good complaint they can forward me for the following scenario? (Property law is not my niche, which is why I am asking):
P buys a home which has structural add ons that are not permitted. This fact was not disclosed by P's realtor or the inspector. City is fining P & forcing P to commence costly construction to bring their home into conformity. P would like to make a claim against her realtor as well as the inspector for failing to disclose the fact that the add ons were not permitted.
2 Answers from Attorneys
I don't have a sample complaint to offer, just a suggestion. Bringing suit against the inspector may not be fruitful ..... most of their contracts disclaim knowledge or expertise in the area of permits and legality. Why not focus on the seller? Was the seller an absentee owner or not the owner at the time the illegal work was done?
I agree with Mr. Whipple about the inspector. A pre-purchase home inspector is not expected to pull the permit file on the property and compare it to the structure. They see what condition the structure is in, period. I also agree about going after the seller and seller's realtor. You will never get an expert witness on the topic of a realtor's duty of care to say the buyer's realtor has any obligation to check for unpermitted work if the seller's and seller's broker's disclosures do not say anything that would give rise to a duty to inquire further. It is the seller and the seller's broker that has the duty to disclose unpermitted work. To plead that you are essentially pleading a "duty to disclose" version of fraud. The duty is created by statute. The rest of the elements are the same as any fraud. I would also add a negligent misrepresentation cause of action.