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Seller non compliant

Discussion in 'Buying & Selling a Home or Residence' started by Ramsey Lambert, Aug 11, 2020.

  1. Ramsey Lambert

    Ramsey Lambert Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    California
    I recently purchased a house. In the contract the seller stated he would be providing a septic tank certification prior to closing. Weeks before closing, my agent was asking for the certification to be completed, with no response from the seller's agent. The day I signed loan docs, also the day before closing, the seller notified us that he would not be providing us with a septic tank certification. The next day, my loan funded and we were scheduled to record that day, the seller stopped the recording and demanded I sign an acceptance of a septic tank receipt (only stating it was emptied) in lieu of the certification. My agent advised me not to sign it, but I was scared I was going to lose the loan, and the house. Me and my kids were already packed and nowhere to go, so I signed the document.

    We ended up closing and recording. I recently tried to have the septic tank certified and they notified me it will cost $4600 to repair.

    Here's my question: Do I have a case that either the seller did not perform according to the contract, or that I was forced under duress when signing the receipt in lieu of the certification? I would like to recover any repairs I need to do for the septic tank.
     
  2. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    You are either going to spend the $4600 on the repair or on a lawyer.

    It was a really bad move to close when you knew there was an issue and a pretty big one at that.

    Fix the septic tank and speak to an area real estate attorney. The consultation visit should be free.
     
  3. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    No one who hasn't read the contract can intelligently answer this question. However, it sounds like you signed a modification to the contract so that the seller DID perform according to the contract (as modified).

    Absolutely not. You were under no duress. You had an option and made a decision. That's not duress or anything close to it.
     
  4. Ramsey Lambert

    Ramsey Lambert Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I did not know there was an issue until after closing. We did not inspect the septic tank since it was in the contract that the seller was going to have it certified. If I would've known he wasn't going to supply the certification, I would have inspected and made my decision from there. I had less than 24 hours to decide.
     
  5. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    Sure you did. When the seller had you sign an "acceptance of a septic tank receipt" instead of the certification you knew or should have known there was a problem.

    And that mistake is likely going to cost you about $5000.00.
     
  6. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Notice that the OP even had professional advice to NOT sign & close.
     
  7. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    Yep.
     
  8. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, but that doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

    You wrote that, "[w]eeks before closing, [your] agent was asking for the certification to be completed, [but received] no response from the seller's agent." That's a big-old red flag that something might be amiss.

    Then you wrote, "The day I signed loan docs, also the day before closing, the seller notified us that he would not be providing us with a septic tank certification." Now, "the day before closing," you had confirmation of the red flag you saw "weeks" earlier.

    If this certification was important to you, one would expect that, once the red flag went up, you would have given the seller an ultimatum. Then, when you were told that the seller would not do what was agreed, one would expect that you'd have inquired why he would not be providing the certification. Maybe you did that, but you haven't told us that you did, so we can only assume you didn't. A reasonable person would view this as a clear indication that "there was an issue." At that point, you had a choice to make: proceed knowing that there is an issue or walk away from the deal.

    24 hours is plenty of time to say, "No. I expect you to do what you agreed in the contract to do. If you don't, then you have a choice: (1) I walk away; (2) we agree to push back the closing so that I can get an inspection done (at your cost); or (3) you agree to reduce the price. Your call." It took me less than a minute to type that.

    We can quibble over details, but the bottom line is that no duress occurred, and you'll need someone to review your contract documents to determine if you have any recourse against the seller.
     
  9. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Contact the CA Water Board and find out if the certification is mandatory. If it is, you might have something. If it isn't, well, you willingly waived it and you may be out of luck.

    Home Page | California State Water Resources Control Board

    Consult an attorney, too.
     
  10. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    But it was not certified and you proceeded anyway. You probably should have waited for the seller to honor the agreement. You are now experiencing the very reason the certification was supposed to be completed first.

    It is worth having an attorney review your documents, but you will now have to spend more money and hope to recover it later.
     
  11. welkin

    welkin Active Member

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    So on the day you closed on the loan your lender had no knowledge that there was no certification on the operation of the septic system? Then the seller disclosed that the septic tank was pumped but would not certify that the system was in working order but did not disclose what the problems were and asked you to waive the certification.

    Well I don't believe you had standing to waive that certification because CA law requires that the system be certified in a real estate transaction and there needs to be full disclosure in the seller's disclosure form. And it sounds like your lender didn't know about this glitch.

    The inspections are preformed by C-43 licensed inspectors in each county. What happened here is that the inspection was done, the tanks were emptied and there were problems found with the tanks and or the disposal fields. The seller hid that information from you and that would be fraud.

    You need to speak to an attorney before you do anything to repair the system. And I don't think you have heard the last from your lender on your waver of the certification.
     

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