Seller of condo must make disclosures

Mailbag

December 06, 1998

Dear Mr. Azrael:

In August, we entered into a contract of sale to purchase a condo in Cecil County. Settlement was to be on Oct. 30.

The seller is a licensed attorney in Maryland and Pennsylvania. He wrote the contract of sale.

In the contract it was disclosed there is an existing SBA loan. This is not a problem.

The only paperwork the seller provided us with was a copy of the rules and regulations of the condominium and the bylaws of the condo association.

In our research to find out the stability of the condo association, we discovered there are several pending lawsuits against the condo association.

The plaintiff in one of the lawsuits is the seller of this property. He never disclosed this fact to us either verbally or in writing.

Due to the existence of these pending lawsuits, we did not want to continue with the purchase.

We refused to settle by both letter and phone prior to the settlement date. We canceled the contract of sale and requested the return of our $5,000 earnest money.

The seller refused to return our money because he claims we "breached the contract of sale" because we did not settle and he was ready, willing and able to settle.

What recourse do we have?

H. J. Ahlfeldt

Forest Hill

Dear Mr. Ahlfeldt:

Maryland law protects residential condominium buyers by assuring that they receive basic information about the condominium before they are legally obligated to purchase the unit.

If the condo contains fewer than seven units, the unit owner must furnish the following to the purchaser not later than 15 days prior to closing:

* A copy of the condo declaration.

* The bylaws.

* The rules and regulations of the condo.

A statement by the unit owner of the unit owner's expenses during the preceding 12 months relating to the common elements.

If the condo contains seven or more units, additional disclosures are required, including a statement of any judgments against the condominium and the existence of any pending suits to which the condo association is a party.

Every contract of sale for a residential condo must contain a notice, advising the buyer of his right to receive the required disclosures. A contract for the sale of a residential condominium is unenforceable unless it contains the required notice.

Any purchaser, at any time within seven days following receipt of all required disclosures, may rescind in writing the contract of sale.

The purchaser does not have to state any reason and incurs no liability.

The seller must return any deposits made on account of the contract.

To determine your specific rights, answer these questions:

* Does the condominium contain more than seven units? If so, the unit owner's failure to disclose the existence of lawsuits against the condominium association is grounds for recession.

* Does your contract contain a proper notice of your disclosure and recession rights? If not, the contract is unenforceable.

* Did you send the unit owner a written notice of recession and demand return of your deposit? If not, do so right away.

The seller may be ready, willing and able to settle, but if he did not provide you with the required notice and disclosures, you can cancel the contract.

Pub Date: 12/06/98

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