The state of Florida is one of the biggest real estate markets in the United States. Only in 2021, more than 528,00 properties of all types were sold for a total of nearly $241 billion. Does Florida law permit buyers to sue sellers after closing a real estate transaction? Read on to find out.
Can Buyer Sue Seller After Closing in Florida? – Taking a Closer Look
Florida law allows buyers to file a lawsuit for damages if a seller fails to disclose an issue that impacts the value of the property before closing. If a defect or issue affects the home materially or adversely, the seller must disclose it.
As long as the buyer has solid evidence of the seller’s failure to disclose, state law allows the injured party to sue and identify the parties responsible for paying damages.
Please note that sellers must disclose any issue that is not readily identifiable in a visit to the property. For example, a broken window or a hole in a wall are not subject to the seller’s duty to disclose, as they are not hidden defects.
Sellers are not legally required to inspect the property to identify hidden defects. Hence, they only need to reveal problems that they know exist. If the seller does not know about a defect, the buyer cannot sue based on a breach of the duty to disclose.
What Elements Must Florida Sellers Disclose Before Real Estate Closing?
Any known issue that affects the value of the property materially or adversely must be disclosed by the seller. Generally, the most common issues reported in Florida real estate include:
- Structural issues (e.g., roofing defects)
- HVAC issues
- Plumbing issues
- Infestation (e.g., termites, ants, rodents, etc.)
- Risk of sinkholes
- Exposition to toxic chemical agents (e.g., asbestos, lead, etc.)
- Long-term water intrusion
- Risk or existence of leaks
- Boundary disputes and encroachments
- Zoning issues
- Title clouds
In a lawsuit for failure to disclose, the buyer must demonstrate that the defect is materially proven. It is not possible to win in court based on a minor detail, such as an insignificant amount of mold in the corner of a basement.
Florida Statutes §689.25(1)(a) provides that “the fact that an occupant of real property is infected or has been infected with human immunodeficiency virus or diagnosed with acquired immune deficiency syndrome is not a material fact that must be disclosed in a real estate transaction.”
Section (1)(b) of the same statute adds that “the fact that a property was, or was at any time suspected to have been, the site of a homicide, suicide, or death is not a material fact that must be disclosed in a real estate transaction.”
Buyer’s Right to Sue After Closing vs. As Is Contract in Florida
When someone purchases real estate with an “As Is” contract in Florida, the buyer is stating that he or she is accepting the property in its current condition and waiving the right to sue the seller to pay for future repairs.
An “As Is” clause only exempts the seller from paying for any repairs, but it does not exempt the seller from the duty to disclose any know issues affecting the property.
Protecting Your Interests in Florida Real Estate – Immediately Contact Jurado & Associates, P.A.
Whether you are a seller or buyer, a well-versed real estate lawyer from Jurado & Associates, P.A. is willing to help you. Contact us by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing [email protected] for an individual consultation.