When you are buying a home in Florida, the seller is under an obligation to tell you specific facts about the property before the purchase is completed. If they fail to disclose certain pieces of information, and you find out about them later, there may be legal consequences for the seller. However, under the law, sellers are not required to tell potential buyers everything about a property. For instance, if the home is reputed to be haunted, a buyer would not necessarily be entitled to this information. However, do Florida home sellers have to disclose if a home was the scene of a crime?
Florida Property Disclosures
In Johnson vs. Davis, the Florida Supreme Court held that where the seller of a home knows of facts materially affecting the property’s value that are not readily observable and are not known to the buyer, the seller has to disclose them. Ordinarily, these are past or current material, or significant, problems with the home. After Davis, the Florida Supreme Court established in another case, that buyers are not under an obligation to investigate “every piece of information” a seller provides. Instead, a buyer’s obligation is to look into only those facts which a reasonable person in their position would be expected to investigate. Generally, a buyer is responsible for looking into the facts but is not expected to find out things that the seller failed to disclose or fraudulently misrepresented.
Disclosure of Criminal Activity on the Premises
In general, Florida does not require that a seller disclose that a crime took place inside or on a property. This means that a seller doesn’t have to tell the buyer if a home was the site of an illegal gambling or drug operation, major arrest, or a severe or infamous crime. Further, Florida law specifically excludes homicide, suicide, and deaths from the disclosure requirement. Some events are going to be so topical that a quick internet search will reveal that they took place at a particular site. A concerned buyer who is unfamiliar with the area may want to perform an online search to determine if the home has any unfortunate historical facts.
Work with Local Real Estate Professionals
The best way to ensure that you are getting a comprehensive view of a property and its history is by working with local real estate professionals. Area realtors are going to be familiar with the communities, the homes, and their histories. Once you have a complete idea about the property, you and your realtor can work with the right real estate attorney to manage your transaction.
At Rabideau Klein, David E. Klein, Esq. and Guy Rabideau, Esq. are Florida Bar Board-Certified
Real Estate Attorneys, with experience assisting clients with their residential real estate matters in the Town of Palm Beach and throughout Palm Beach County. We have the expertise and local knowledge you need to evaluate and protect your interest during your Palm Beach County real estate transaction. Contact Rabideau Klein today to discuss your legal real estate needs.