Understanding Latent Defects and Legal Remedies for Homebuyers in Ontario
Imagine you spend months looking for a home to purchase. Eventually you find one that’s perfect, you put in an offer, and it is accepted. You hire a home inspector (as we recommended in one of our previous blogs) and you are given the green light and the house has no major issues. Some time passes (maybe weeks, months, or even years) and you discover there is a major issue in the house that existed before you purchased the home. What can you do? Homebuyers in Ontario have the right to purchase a property that is free from defects. However, defects can remain hidden or undisclosed, which can cause serious financial and legal issues. This is where latent defects come in. In this article, we will discuss what a latent defect is, what you can do if you discover one, and how Sondhi Defence can help.
What is a Latent Defect?
A latent defect is a hidden defect that is not easily discoverable during a regular home inspection. This means that the defect existed before you purchased the property, but was not visible or disclosed at the time of the sale. Some examples of latent defects include faulty wiring, plumbing issues, structural problems, and mould. A latent defect is typically defined as: “A defect that cannot be discovered by inspection and ordinary vigilance. In determining whether something is a defect, the intended use of the land is a relevant consideration” (Kingspan Insulated Panels Ltd v Brantford (City), 2010 ONSC 4610). One means of ‘vigilance’ is to hire a home inspector. However, sometimes home inspectors will miss an issue, like faulty wiring, because of the nature of their inspection – they won’t rip holes in the walls to check the wiring, and you don’t want them to do that either.
What Can You Sue For After Discovering a Latent Defect?
If you discover a latent defect, you have legal remedies in Ontario. The main consideration is whether the seller knew or should have known about the defect and did not disclose it. If the seller was aware of the defect and did not disclose it, they may be liable for damages and the costs incurred to fix the property. It’s important to note that sellers are only required to disclose defects that you or your inspector could not reasonably discover during an inspection. If the issue was obvious or discoverable with an inspector, and you did not hire one, then the seller might not be liable. One exception to what is mentioned above is if the seller intentionally hid the defect from you or the inspector. There are many ways they could have done this but if it can be determined that they did then they, once again, might be liable for damages. This is because courts have interpreted active concealment as a form of fraud or misrepresentation.
What Should You Do If You Discover a Latent Defect?
If you discover a latent defect, talk to a lawyer who can guide you through this complex area. They can help determine the best course of action based on the type of issue, damages, and other factors. At Sondhi Defence, we specialize in real estate law and have experience helping clients in Ontario deal with latent defect issues. Our experienced team of experts can help you assess the situation, negotiate with the seller or their insurance company, and pursue legal action if necessary. Contact Sondhi Defence today to learn more about your options for dealing with a latent defect. Protect your investment with our help.