Are you about to buy your first home or considering moving into a house that’s more suited to your needs? As exciting as it may be, a house purchase can be a source of stress and worry for many people. Clearly, latent defects are among the biggest areas of concern for home buyers. Here’s what you need to know in order to be prepared if a latent defect is discovered in your home.
Two precautions to take to prevent latent defects before purchasing a house
1. Get Legal Access insurance
Before taking the first steps involved in purchasing a new home, it’s definitely worth your while to add Legal Access insurance to your coverages. For just a few dollars per year, this coverage could come in handy if you discover latent defects. It would also be useful in many other situations, such as problems with neighbours or with a contractor during renovations.
2. Have a pre-purchase home inspection carried out by a building expert or inspector with liability insurance
A pre-purchase inspection by a professional is not mandatory. However, by having the building inspected by a professional, you demonstrate that you acted as a prudent and diligent buyer. In the event that a latent defect is discovered following the purchase, the inspection increases the likelihood that the defect is covered under the legal warranty.
Moreover, in the event of error, mistake or omission on his part, it might be possible to take legal action against the expert or building inspector.
What do you do if you discover a latent defect?
Here’s what you should generally do to assert your rights in such a situation. Of course, it’s always best to use your Legal Access insurance or get a mediator or lawyer to advise you and provide guidance throughout the process.
1. Check to see if you purchased your home with or without a legal warranty by referring to your notarized purchase contract. If the purchase was made without a legal warranty, your options may be limited.
2. Make sure the issue was not disclosed to you in writing before you signed the notarized deed of sale. To do this, review all the documents relating to the purchase of the home, including the seller’s declaration, the purchase offer and the inspection report.
3. Contact an expert to learn everything you need to know about the defect: cause, severity of the damage, nature of the work required to repair it, estimate of the repair costs, etc. If it is demonstrated to be a latent defect, you could obtain reimbursement from the seller for the expert’s fees.
4. Provide the seller with written notification of the situation within six months following the discovery of the issue. In your letter, offer the seller an opportunity to form his or her own opinion of the situation by either going to the premises personally or sending an expert of his or her choice. Also specify what you expect the seller to do to remedy the situation.
5. Before starting on the work to repair the defect, wait to get the seller’s response!
You need to make the seller aware of the defect and give him or her an opportunity to assess the situation and react before you get going on any repair work.
6. If you reach an out-of-court settlement with the seller without having to go to court, it’s best to get it in writing. A word to the wise: If the agreement includes a discharge, this puts a final end to the matter, confirming that the issue has been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.
7. If an out-of-court solution is not possible, you have a period of three years, following discovery of the defect, for recourse before the court.
Now that you’re well informed, you can set off to look for the ideal home, feeling more light-hearted. Enjoy the tours!