Buying a home is the biggest purchase most people will ever make. Discovering a defect in your home can be devastating. However, it may be possible to get monetary assistance in repairing the defect. Florida has laws regarding home sale disclosure, designed to protect you from becoming the victim of hidden or undisclosed defects.

In its statutes, Florida law clearly states that any known defect that could materially affect the value of the property must be disclosed by the buyer. Even if a home is being sold “as is,” disclosure laws apply. It is wise to consult your inspector’s report—if you had one—to verify that the latent defect was not cited there. Note: a latent defect is one that is not immediately discernable.

What if the disclosure is incomplete?

If you find a defect not included in the seller’s disclosure, you have options. First, you might consider getting an insurance estimate to see if it is more cost-effective to take care of it on your own. If not, you should ascertain the following:

  • Is the defect long-standing or a recurring issue? If the problem is new since you bought the home, it will not be possible to attain compensation.
  • Did the previous homeowner have knowledge of it? If so, the burden of proof will be on you and your legal team to prove this.
  • Did you rely on the seller’s lies or nondisclosure? If you were lied to, you can take legal action.

How should you proceed if you want to sue?

There are two steps to consider before formal litigation. You could send a demand letter or pursue mediation. If both these actions fail, then know that you can still file a lawsuit with the help of an experienced attorney.

In Florida, you have five years after a sale to file a lawsuit regarding home defects.