Buyer's leaky roof puts seller at risk

MAILBAG

February 24, 2002

Dear Mr. Azrael,

One week after we bought our house we had a major roof leak.

Since we had a roofing certification, we went back to the roofers for the repair and discovered that they were unlicensed (the sales contract stated the seller must hire a licensed roofer to do all repairs and certification).

We also believe the sellers signed a false disclosure when they said they had no knowledge of leaks.

The sellers refuse to go to mediation to resolve this matter.

What are the laws regarding false disclosures, and can we sue them for the cost of repairs?

Rebecca Brower

Baltimore

Dear Ms. Brower,

You have a full load of legal ammunition to fire at the sellers and their unlicensed contractor.

The sellers breached the sales contract by using an unlicensed contractor to perform the roof certification. By failing to use a contractor who is licensed by the State Home Improvement Commission, the sellers have deprived you of the substantial protections that the law gives to consumers to deal with licensed contractors.

The sellers also breached the sales contract if they falsely stated in the disclosure form that they had no knowledge of existing roof leaks.

The sellers can be held liable for damages -- including the cost of repairs -- caused by their misrepresentation.

The unlicensed contractor is also liable for breaching his obligation to repair your roof.

I suggest you see your attorney and pursue all of your legal rights.

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