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Leaky shower sparks question of responsibility

Q: We sold our condo about three months back with no hassle and just today received an e-mail from the purchaser’s agent (through our agent) that the shower stall in the guest bedroom had been leaking and it had damaged the floor and drywall in the closet adjacent to the wall with the shower. This was discovered because the new owner pulled up the flooring in the closet to install new hardwood and found the damage and some mould. The buyer is claiming we are responsible because it is apparent the problem had existed during our ownership. Is this true?

A: The answer to your question is not simple. It seems what you are dealing with is a “latent defect.” This basically is a problem with a property that was not apparent at the time of closing. The test to see who is responsible is this: if the vendor knew about the problem, did not disclose it, AND the buyer can prove the vendor had knowledge of the problem. In this case it seems apparent you had no knowledge of the problem as it wasn’t until the buyer lifted the flooring months after the transaction that the leak became apparent. Unless there is something I am missing, you shouldn’t be held responsible for this new reality. Your lawyer can walk you through this in greater detail to make sure you’re on the right side of this problem.

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