Xem thêm

Florida As Is Real Estate Contracts: Obligations and Disclosure in Residential Home Sales

CEO Khai Intela
In Florida, the world of real estate is not without its challenges. One recurring issue that leads to litigation involves the rights and obligations of buyers and sellers operating under an "As Is" contract for...

Florida As Is Real Estate

In Florida, the world of real estate is not without its challenges. One recurring issue that leads to litigation involves the rights and obligations of buyers and sellers operating under an "As Is" contract for the sale of residential property. Let's explore the nuances of these contracts and the duty to disclose material facts.

The Seller's Obligations to Disclose Under Florida Law

Despite the existence of contractual language excusing sellers from representations, commonly referred to as the "AS IS" language, Florida law imposes a separate duty to disclose material facts that could substantially affect the value of a property. This duty is applicable even when a property is sold "As Is."

The materiality of a fact is determined by its substantial effect on the value of the property. When a seller is aware of facts that are not readily observable and unknown to the buyer, they have a duty to disclose them. Examples of such factors include prior insurance claims, roof conditions, floods, construction defects, mold, termites, and septic/sewer system issues.

To establish a non-disclosure case against a seller, the buyer needs to prove the following elements:

  1. The seller must have knowledge of a defect in the property.
  2. The defect must materially affect the value of the property.
  3. The defect must be not readily observable and unknown to the buyer.
  4. The seller failed to disclose the defect to the buyer.

It's important to note that a seller's potential liability for a failure to disclose is not dependent on intent. Even a forgetful or careless seller can be held liable. The only requirement is knowledge, not intent.

Seller's Liability Illustration: Sellers need to be aware of their liability for failure to disclose.

Florida courts have determined that intentional concealment or fraud by a seller could lead to successful rescission of the sale. In cases of non-disclosure with aggravating circumstances, where deliberate efforts to conceal material facts are proven, punitive damages may be awarded.

"AS IS" Contracts for Real Estate Do Not Eliminate the Duty to Disclose

Many non-disclosure cases arise from sellers or their real estate agents mistakenly relying on an "as is" provision within a contract. In Florida, such provisions do not limit a seller's or agent's duty to disclose material defects. Ignorance of this fact can lead to serious liability.

Sellers who possess knowledge of a material defect cannot simply rely on the buyer's independent duty to inspect or the "as is" language of the contract to avoid their responsibilities.

If you are a homebuyer who has discovered a material defect or a seller or real estate agent facing a lawsuit for failure to disclose, it is crucial to seek legal advice and guidance. Our office offers an in-depth free consultation to help you understand your rights and options.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as specific legal advice. Consultation with a competent legal counsel is recommended to analyze the specific facts of your case, as laws change over time.

Stay Informed to Protect Your Rights

Understanding the intricacies of Florida real estate contracts and the duty to disclose is essential for both buyers and sellers. By being aware of your rights and obligations, you can navigate the real estate landscape with confidence. Remember, knowledge is power when it comes to making informed decisions in residential home sales.

1