Man's hand finger pointing to the cracked wall in house

What Can I Do About House Defects After a Sale?

Law Offices of David W. Wilcox  May 6, 2024

Discovering defects in your newly-purchased home can be a nightmare. The joy of homeownership feels tarnished and immediate concerns are raised about your financial and legal protection.  

Attorney Wilcox of the Law Offices of David W. Wilcox can walk you through the ins and outs of house defects after a sale and your rights as a Florida homeowner. From recognizing the defects to exploring your legal options, he ensures you're prepared to tackle any issues that arise with your property. 

Understanding House Defects 

Upon carefully inspecting your home, you might find that not all issues are immediately apparent. Latent defects, issues that are concealed and not readily visible, are particularly thorny to handle.  

Under Florida real estate law, these can include severe structural problems, plumbing or electrical faults, or issues that ultimately make the property unsuitable for habitation. Florida law offers recourse for buyers who find themselves grappling with such unsettling discoveries. 

Types of Defects 

Defects can range from minor nuisances to major structural problems impacting livability and safety. It’s crucial to discern the gravity of the defect and understand that in Florida, certain rights and remedies are contingent on the nature of the issue. Structural integrity, water damage, HVAC malfunctions, and foundation problems are common and significant defects. 

Defining Latent Defects 

Florida law recognizes two primary types of defects—patent and latent. Patent defects are those readily noticeable upon a reasonable inspection of the property by the buyer, while latent defects are those concealed and not discoverable by a reasonable inspection. Latent defects can significantly influence the value of the property or impact its function. 

Your Rights as a Homeowner in Florida 

When it comes to post-sale defect issues, understanding your rights empowers you to take swift and appropriate action. Provisions within Florida’s Homestead Act and specific clauses within your sale agreement and home warranty plans can provide protection.  

Reviewing Your Legal Protections 

Consulting with a seasoned real estate attorney can help you ascertain your legal standing within the context of your unique situation. Understanding the nuances of property laws can mean the difference between fair compensation and extended disputes. 

Florida Homeowners' Construction Recovery Fund 

In cases where the seller is unable to address significant defects, homeowners in Florida can potentially recover financial losses from the Construction Recovery Fund. Created as a resource for individuals who suffer monetary damages due to defects in construction, the fund can offer an added layer of protection for homeowners in the Sunshine State. 

Steps to Take After Discovering a Defect 

Upon discovering a defect, prompt action is imperative. Documenting the issue thoroughly and initiating communications with the seller or builder preserves your legal standing and opens the path to resolution. Here’s a step-by-step guide to handling the situation. 

Gathering Evidence 

Upon detection of a defect, documenting it with photos, videos, and written descriptions is your first line of defense. Additionally, consult with independent experts to assess the nature and extent of the defect. 

Notifying the Seller 

Formal notification to the seller provides a record of your intent to seek a resolution. Ensure proper channels of communication are utilized and keep copies of all correspondence for your records. 

Legal Recourse and Next Steps 

Post-notification, if the seller or builder is unwilling or unable to address the defect, it may be necessary to escalate the matter legally. Understanding your options and the potential outcomes can help you make informed decisions. 

Pursuing a Legal Claim 

Bringing forth a legal claim is an option for homeowners facing severe post-sale defects. An experienced real estate attorney can guide you through litigation, ensuring your claim is filed within the statute of limitations and that you’re accurately represented. 

Exploring Alternative Dispute Resolution 

Sometimes, opting for mediation or arbitration can yield the desired outcome without the time and cost associated with a formal lawsuit. Attorney Wilcox and his team stand ready to represent your interests through any avenue of dispute resolution. 

Preventing Future House Defects 

Prevention is the best recourse against future disputes. Whether buying, selling, or maintaining a home, safeguarding against undetected defects reduces the likelihood of legal entanglements down the line. 

Engaging expert inspectors for a comprehensive assessment of the property before purchase can help identify latent defects. By uncovering issues early, you mitigate the risk of post-sale surprises. 

During home renovations or new construction, vetting the credibility of contractors and builders is an essential task. Working with reputable professionals minimizes the chances of post-construction defects. 

Retain a Skilled Attorney Today 

Post-sale house defects in Florida present immense challenges. By understanding your rights, documenting issues, and seeking legal support when needed, you protect your investment and ensure you can enjoy your property with peace of mind. 

Remember, in Florida, time is of the essence. Swift, decisive action is key to safeguarding your home and financial security.  

Reach out to the real estate attorney of the Law Offices of David W. Wilcox for a consultation and for support throughout your post-defect discovery process. Prompt legal attention can transform a potential ordeal into a manageable and equitable resolution.