How to Sue Home Sellers For Misrepresentation
Misrepresentation refers to a claim used to compensate buyers for sellers’ lies or misinformation. Homebuyers are particularly vulnerable to such moral hazards as seller misrepresentation.
If you just bought a property with major defects that were not disclosed to you pre-purchase, you can take legal action against the seller. For example, Canadian home buyers were successfully awarded CA$100,000 for damages after suing for misrepresentation.
If your claim is below $10,000, you can sue the home seller in small claims court – a special division of the judicial system that intends to help parties who do not have personal attorneys resolve disputes quickly, in a budget-friendly manner.
In this article, we’ll discuss home sellers’ disclosure obligations, the legal grounds for suing for misrepresentation, and the small-claims suit process. We’ll also show you how to sue anyone through DoNotPay without a lawyer!
What are Sellers’ Disclosure Obligations?
Laws vary by state but the table below outlines some of the mandatory disclosures in most states:
|Mandatory Disclosure Items||Detail|
|Plumbing Problems||Any drainage issues must be disclosed.|
|Neighborhood Nuisance||It is the sellers’ responsibility to disclose any neighbor disputes, boundary issues, and neighbor nuisance.|
|Emotional Defects||A seller is required to disclose emotional defects about a home, such as murder, crime, or suicide.|
|Lead Paint||The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 requires home sellers to disclose the use of lead-based paint to all potential buyers.|
|Pests||A seller is responsible for disclosing any pest infestations, including cockroaches, mice, bats, etc.|
Legal Grounds for a Lawsuit
Before you file a lawsuit, check if your claim meets the following criteria:
- The seller lied to you about the property. For instance, the seller deliberately concealed drainage issues in the basement of the property.
- You acted in reliance upon the sellers’ lies. For example, you determined the value of the property and made a purchase decision based on the information the seller had provided.
- You meet the statutes of limitations. Every state has a deadline for you to file a lawsuit against someone. This deadline ranges from two to ten years, depending on your state.
- The property had issues before you purchased it. Note that any defects that started after you purchased the property are a result of the home’s aging.
How to Sue a Home Seller in Small Claims Court?
Although you can go through the suing process by yourself without a lawyer, it can be very demanding with a limited guarantee for winning your case. Here are the steps you should take:
- Collect all the evidence. This includes screenshots of messages, email correspondence, voice memos, photos of defects, and more.
- Get testimonies from experts. To prove that the issues with the property existed before you purchased it, you can get a home inspection. An inspection report is useful to convince the court that the seller lied about the property.
- Decide on how much you are owed. Your compensation claim should depend on how much you paid for damages, such as payment for renovations and pest control. Remember that your claim should not exceed $10,000 for a small-claims suit, though it depends on your state laws.
- Provide a letter of claim to the accused. After all the evidence has been put together, the next step is to present the accused of the defendant with the claim. The letter will summarize the claim and the monetary amount requested.
- Consider the accused’s response. In the event that the accused responds to the letter of claim, your legal team may draw up a rebuttal that could determine if they decide to continue with your claim or not.
- If negotiations over an out-of-court settlement fail, the court proceedings begin. A trial generally begins within 18-24 months.
Sue Home Seller For Misrepresentation With DoNotPay
DoNotPay is the perfect way for you to file a small-claims suit that covers all of the necessary realms of information and win! All you need to do is:
- Log on to DoNotPay on any web browser and select “Sue Now”
- Enter the dollar amount that you are owed (this could be adequate compensation to cover damages)
- Then, select whether you’d like to receive a demand letter or court filing forms
- Finally, describe your reason for filing the lawsuit, and submit any additional details (including your photo evidence)
That’s all! DoNotPay will generate a demand letter or court filing forms for you, and mail a copy of your demand letter to the home seller!
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