Profile picture for DmitriyT

The house I bought has a leaking basement. Do I have any legal right to make sellers pay for fix?

I bought a house 1.5 months ago. After the first heavy rain I found that basement is leaking. That leak was not mentioned in sellers disclosure. Do I have any right to clam sellers and fix the leak for their expenses? That's NJ.
  • December 10 2009 - US
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Answers (8)

It sounds as if you did not have a home inspection?  If your Inspector did report it you are pretty much out of luck..

As mentioned in other posts check you gutters , leaders, and general drainage.  80% of basement water "problems" are actually "roof' water problems.

Good luck!
  • December 27 2009
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Tiffany's right, flood IS the effword to insurance companies. Although, to them, it isn't a flood unless more than one property is involved. This is just a leaky basement.

We know you've already reported the claim to the 1-800 number, which means that it's on your CLUE report and there's a betting chance that you may soon have your policy cancelled or sent out to West Sandbar Service Corporation, motto, "You already paid, why should we?"

So, dear reader, don't rush off and make claims until you've determined that you've got a serious money problem. That hot water tank goes off in the unfinished basement, you call 1-800, water claim. Bad. Very bad.

Anyway. Back to the money problem. If you've got a money problem, you've got a reason to at least consider going back to the previous owners for false disclosure. If you've just got some wet, Bo Brahmhal's #1 suggestion is #1: Don't let roof runoff pour against the foundation wall!


 
  • December 16 2009
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I don't know that I would make an insurance claim for flooding unless there is severe damage. Flood is a very bad word to use in a conversation with an insurance company.
  • December 10 2009
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Profile picture for real estate mike
holmesonhomes has excellent info on the correct way to correct the problem. Going back to the seller if there was no evidence of past problems and your inspector saw no indicators might prove to be a difficult task. Is a remedy covered under your insurance policy? best of luck
  • December 10 2009
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I'm not a Realtor in NJ, and clearly the laws of the state rule. However, if your inspector looked at it and saw no evidence of water penetration, then it will likely be your problem.

In NC, other than fraud by the Seller, when you close on the purchase, the home is yours. And the lack of evidence previously makes proving it an issue difficult.

My first suggestion would be twofold:

1. Do you have gutters and downspouts, and are the gutters cleaned and the downspouts away from the home.  I used to live in an old (50+ year) house, and if the gutters got clogged, then during heavy rains the old foundation cracks would leak a lot!

2. Ask your Realtor.  If you have an agent experienced in the neighborhood that you bought, they would generally know based on age and locale whether homes "usually" experienced some water in the basement during heavy rains. I can only say that's how I treat it with my clients and older homes - no matter what the Seller says ont he disclosure, I told them they could expect some water penetration during heavy rains.

Absent all that, and still wanting to pursue against the Seller for some reason, then yes - a previous insurance claim for basement water damage would certainly be a smoking gun. If not, you could be friendly with your neighbors and find out if THEY have leaky basements and if they knew whether yours had a history of water.

  • December 10 2009
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Profile picture for sunnyview
Proving that they had knowledge of the water leaks could be tricky and expensive unless you have solid proof. The leak itself is suspicious, but dry basements sometimes turn wet again by themselves. I don't know about NJ, but in most states issues like this should have been disclosed before the sale if the owner knew about it. Before you consider hiring an attorney, it might be worth seeing if you can get a history of any previous damage claims via a CLUE report from insurance records here instead. They cost 19.50 and will tell you if any claim for water damage had been paid in the last two years for the house. If there was a claim, you may have the proof you need to make it worth hiring an attorney or going straight to them to negotiate for money back. It's worth a try.
  • December 10 2009
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Profile picture for DmitriyT
Inspector did not notice that and I think there was not clear evidence of leakage.
  • December 10 2009
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
Is there evidence it has leaked before?     Did your inspector note possible basement leaks during his/her inspection?

I'd talk to a real estate attorney, although probably it is from your pocket. 
  • December 10 2009
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