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Legal Options When a New Home Contains Undisclosed Hazards

Legal Options When a New Home Contains Undisclosed Hazards

Discovering that a new home has a serious undisclosed danger can be frustrating and expensive, especially if the hazard is one that renders the home unsafe or even uninhabitable. Extreme cases, like a basement contaminated with toxic chemicals from a former methamphetamine lab, can destroy a home’s value.

Home sellers must disclose certain conditions

Under NRS 113.120, the seller of a residential property is required to make disclosures about the condition of certain parts of a home. In addition to evaluating the home’s electrical, heating, cooling, plumbing, and sewer systems, a seller also must make disclosures about “any other aspects of the property which affect its use or value.” This disclosure must be provided to the buyer at least 10 days before closing and must update the disclosure if a worsening condition is discovered before closing. The state provides a form for sellers to use.

Note that these disclosure requirements don’t apply in certain circumstances. This exception applies to sales of brand new homes, homes under foreclosure, between spouses, family members, or co-owners, or (in very specific circumstances) by temporary title holders. In these cases, the purchaser must first request the disclosure, but once requested the seller must provide it in writing. NRS 113.130(4).

Buyers should also bear in mind that Nevada’s disclosure law exempts sellers from having to disclose defects of which they are not aware. NRS 113.140. On the one hand, this makes sense. If the seller doesn’t know that a house is contaminated with asbestos dust, it can’t disclose that fact. But in many situations, this can leave the unsuspecting buyer with an uninhabitable structure.

Remedies for inadequate disclosure

If a seller knew about a defect but failed to disclose it, the buyer is entitled to sue the seller to recover the cost of repairing the problem. The buyer is also entitled to recover court costs and attorney fees. Note that any action to enforce these rules must be brought within one year of discovering the defect, or within two years of closing, whichever occurs later. Sellers cannot be held responsible for incorrect disclosures or omissions that were made in reliance upon information received from government employees, contractors, licensed inspectors, surveyors, or pesticide applicators. NRS 113.150.

If a seller claims to not have known about a defect may still be challenged in court, especially if the defect was the sort that the seller ought to have known about. Sometimes a plaintiff’s attorney will need to take aggressive steps in the discovery process to uncover what the seller should have known. This might involve expert testimony from both sides, a close examination of records and the seller’s personal communications about the home, and depositions of the seller and other people involved with the property.

GGRM serves the Las Vegas community

The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez work with clients in the Las Vegas area to seek compensation for personal injury and other matters. If you have questions about a wrongful home sale in Nevada, our attorneys are available to help. For a no-cost attorney consultation, call us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.