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What happens if a homeowner doesn’t make required disclosures?

On Behalf of | Oct 26, 2021 | Real Estate Litigation

Almost every jurisdiction requires homeowners to make certain disclosures about their property when offering it up for sale. These requirements vary depending on the state. 

There are various reasons that sellers must make these disclosures. One of them is some assurance that there aren’t any known major systems or structural issues with the home that can result in costly repairs. Making such disclosures can help clarify where liability lies should any conflicting information be discovered down the road. 

What are the mandatory disclosures in California?

A seller has an obligation to disclose the following about their California home:

  • Any knowledge or proof that their home is located along an earthquake fault zone
  • Details about the presence of a nearby airport
  • Any details they may have about a farm or ranch that is close by
  • Whether there’s any flood risk zone in the surrounding area
  • Any knowledge about the transmission of hazardous liquids or gas in the area
  • Proof that there is compliance with carbon monoxide detector requirements
  • Any information that they know about a death having occurred at the house within the past three years
  • Proof that the home is in compliance with defensible space and fire home hardening requirements

There are also a variety of notices, booklets or pamphlets that homeowners must turn over to buyers when they purchase their home. There are additional disclosures that sellers must make in addition to the aforementioned ones. These have to do with the presence of mining operations or natural hazards, pest control, water heaters and conservancy and military ordinances. 

These disclosure requirements generally apply to most any owner of up to four units. These rules may not apply to court-ordered transfers of real estate or ones involving a transfer from a co-owner to a sole one. 

What should you do if your seller didn’t disclose everything?

It can cost you royally to fix issues that weren’t adequately disclosed beforehand as they should have been. A seller’s failure to do so may warrant you filing a lawsuit against them. You’ll want to weigh your different options for addressing the lack of disclosure before deciding whether to pursue litigation in your case.