As a potential homebuyer, one of the most important things you can do prior to closing the sale is order up an inspection. A home inspection is a crucial component of any real estate transaction, as it can reveal potentially costly issues that you may like to know about before closing.
Unfortunately, home inspections are not guaranteed fail-safes. Your inspector may miss a problem that causes you significant time, headache and money in the future, in which case you may wonder, can you sue him or her? SmartAsset explores three ways to address complaints with your inspector and his or her report that can yield the best results.
Sue for breach of contract
If you had a contract in place with your inspector, review it to see if he or she outlined any of his or her responsibilities in writing. While some inspectors may keep their contracts vague for liability purposes, others may go into more detail. For example, your contract may state that the inspector promised to inspect the plumbing system for home repairs, or that he or she was supposed to test for asbestos. If you think that your inspector skipped a step and, in doing so, missed an important detail, you may be able to sue for breach of contract.
File a claim for negligence
When suing for negligence, you do not have to pinpoint any one thing that your inspector did wrong, such as failing to inspect the electrical components. Rather, you simply need to show that he or she failed to take the reasonable and necessary steps to detect problems within the home.
Unfortunately, proving that your inspector acted negligently may not be easy, especially if you sign off on the report — the final step of any home inspection process. Your best bet would be to hire a second inspector to come in and determine if the first inspector, through the normal course of his or her work, should have noticed the issue. Even after receiving a second opinion, however, there is no guarantee that the courts will side with you.
Consider the seller’s liability
Your first instinct, upon discovering a major issue within your new home, may be to blame the inspector. Yet, if an issue is obvious enough to sue an inspector over, it may be worth considering the seller’s liability. The seller has a legal obligation to disclose known issues during the transaction process. While you may struggle to prove what the seller did or did not know, the inspection report, photos and the home’s history may be enough evidence to build a solid case. However, SmartAsset suggests consulting with an attorney before you take any legal action against anyone.