Performing a home inspection prior to a Rhode Island residential real estate closing is an important part of the real estate process. Depending on the agreement between the buyer, the seller, as well as their brokers and the financers, a home inspection may be paid for by any party. However, it is in the interest of all parties that a thorough and comprehensive Rhode Island home inspection is performed before a transaction is finalized.
If a home inspection fails to reveal a structural defect or other physical issue occurring on a building or lot, the question of liability for the defect is not clearly settled under Rhode Island law. Relevant publications have discussed the liability of home inspectors for their own diligence when they declare that a home is free of defects. Under Rhode Island law, home inspectors are required to maintain liability insurance of $250,000 and obtain a state license to perform their services. In the event that a home inspector is negligent and fails to discover a defect that should reasonably be found by a qualified home inspector, they could be liable in a civil lawsuit brought by the buyer seeking compensation for damages related to the defect.
If a home inspector does find an issue with a structure and a buyer decides to purchase the home anyway, the seller may not be protected from legal action brought against them by the buyer. The Rhode Island Supreme Court has weighed in on this very issue. In the case, the plaintiff was the buyer of a home that was found to have signs of water damage and possible flooding issues. After purchasing the home, the plaintiff did not seek to address the water issues, but later sued the seller when a flood caused severe damage to the home.
Although the condition of the home clearly stated “as-is” in the real estate purchase contract, and the buyer was notified by the home inspection that there was a possible issue with flooding, the Rhode Island Supreme Court allowed the buyer’s claim against the seller for fraudulent misrepresentation of the condition of the home to proceed toward a trial. The primary reason for the ruling was that the seller may have known about previous flooding in the home and failed to disclose such knowledge to the buyer.
Although a home inspection is an important part of a Rhode Island residential real estate transaction, the results of a home inspection are not completely determinative as to the rights and responsibilities of the parties to the transaction. If you are buying or selling a home in Rhode Island, obtaining a comprehensive home inspection should be a priority. However, performing an inspection does not relieve the parties of their contractual obligations to deal fairly and in good faith.
Contact a Rhode Island Real Estate Lawyer for Immediate Assistance
If you have purchased a property and suspect the seller has misled you as to the condition of the home, or believe that the home inspection performed missed a serious defect, you may be entitled to compensation. The Rhode Island real estate attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo can help you determine if you have a claim and help you bring it. Our qualified lawyers can advise and represent you throughout all stages of a real estate transaction, possibly helping you deal with situations arising months or years after the transaction. Call our offices to schedule a free consultation at Bilodeau Capalbo today at 401-300-4055.