House Calls: Dream House Annoyances
Dear Edith: My husband and I found the house of our dreams this year. I looked at it myself first and brought him back for a look, and we made an offer that was accepted.
We had an engineer inspection and a final walk-through before the closing, but there were things we didn't see until we moved in. We are so upset to find a small shelf of the refrigerator is missing. Also, there's a large crack in one of the bathroom floors. The fire pit that was listed in the real estate materials but not in the contract had been removed. The light switch that should illuminate the living room does not function properly. Wallpaper that had been covered by a piece of their furniture is missing. One toilet runs after flushing.
Since the former owners could not move out immediately after closing, we let them rent from us and collected a full month of rent and a security deposit in advance. They want the remainder of their rent and their security deposit back, and we feel that we are entitled to keep it due to the condition of the house. This may come to a legal action, and before it does, I would like your opinion. -- R. C.
Answer: I don't know what the seller disclosure laws are where your house is located. But here are a few observations:
You may not get far with items you could have seen for yourselves in that final walk-through -- things like the crack in the bathroom floor. That's what the walk-through is for. As for the fire pit, if you wanted it, it would have been a good idea to specify in your purchase contract.
While I haven't seen the contract, my guess is that the sellers may have said they made no representations about appliances. In any event, you could have seen -- or not seen, rather -- that missing fridge shelf for yourselves.
You couldn't have seen the missing wallpaper, of course, if the sellers' furniture was still in place at your last-minute inspection. Sounds as if that was indeed an undisclosed defect.
You might hold your home inspector accountable for overlooking some items. Overall, though, they don't really add up to a whole lot.
I hope you'll relax enough to enjoy the house of your dreams.
If Kids Inherit