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When a home inspection may not be enough?

 When buying a new home, it is always encouraged to inspect your new property. A home inspection can help identify potential problems in your new house prior to purchase. If you don’t insist on an inspection, you will not have a claim against the vendor for any defects that would have been identified if an inspection was completed. Likewise, the vendor has no obligation to identify any potential defects in the property, and thus an inspection is the only way to find such problems. These rules follow the legal rule of Caveat Emptor or let the buyer beware. Defects discovered upon a home inspection, are called patent defects, because they are easily identified upon a superficial inspection of the property by an ordinary purchaser. These defects follow Caveat Emptor, and as such, when purchasing a resale property you assume some risk that there may be issues in the property. If you discover patent defects after purchase, that were not initially discovered, then you cannot later complain about them.

Latent defects are another story though. Latent defects are defects that an ordinary purchaser would not easily discover in a routine inspection of the property. Normally, if the purchaser and vendor are unaware of any latent defects with the property, caveat emptor does apply, and the purchaser must take the property without compensation. However, at times, the courts will award monetary damages to compensate for latent defects, especially if these defects were once patent defects that were covered up by the vendors. Nonetheless, every situation is different, and thus you should consult with your lawyer when determining your rights in a situation.

by Jeffrey Muller, B.Sc., MA, LL.B.

Please contact Jeffrey at jmuller@grrlaw.ca

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