“Buyer beware” soon will be a thing of the past,” said a July 2, 1995, Tulsa World article when Oklahoma’s Residential Property Disclosure Act went into effect. What the article didn’t say is that “seller beware” would replace the old warning for Oklahoma residents. Today, more than 20 years after the act began, home sellers are being sued for problems that have occurred in properties that they have long since left behind. Buyers may have more protections, but innocent sellers are still left vulnerable to false accusations of fraud regarding property sales which occurred several years ago.
The Oklahoma Residential Property Disclosure Act
Oklahoma’s Residential Property Disclosure Act is designed to help buyers be fully informed about the state of a property before they go ahead with the sale. It requires sellers to disclose a comprehensive list of known defects that could impair the safety of new occupants or adversely affect the value of the property. Defects that should be disclosed include the condition of the property’s structure, the state of its water and sewer systems, past damage caused by water, fire, tornado or termites, the state of plumbing, heating, and air conditioning units, the existence of hazardous materials, and various land-use matters.
By disclosing defects in advance, sellers are giving buyers a clear, accurate picture of the state of the property at the time of sale. This, in theory, should prevent buyers from unknowingly purchasing properties with major defects while also protecting sellers from being liable for defects that are brought to light after the sale. However, although the law was designed to protect both buyers and sellers since 1995 when the act took effect there has been an increase in home buyers suing sellers for defects, often long after purchases were completed.
When The Home Seller Is Accused Of Property Defects
In many instances, sellers are accused of concealing property defects that they were not responsible for and were completely unaware of when they sold the property. What is worse is that in lots of cases the accusations are being made several years after the sale of a property. Innocent sellers are being accused of fraud and are being forced to battle complex lawsuits related to properties they have not stepped foot in for years.
Without legal representation, it can be difficult for sellers to prove that liability for property defects does not rest with them. Unfortunately, if they are found liable, sellers could be forced to pay damages to buyers to cover expensive repairs or to compensate for a drop in the property’s value and legal fees and costs.
The Oklahoma Law Firm For Home Sellers
As a real estate lawyer based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, we have seen a number of cases in which homebuyers have made ridiculous exaggerated claims regarding the state of properties that they bought from sellers who correctly and accurately disclosed all known defects at the time of the sale.
Are you being sued by the buyer of your home? If so, be sure to reach out to us at Giles Law for a free consultation. We’re an experienced Oklahoma Law firm and can give you valuable advice. Please give us a call and let’s talk or fill out our contact form to get in touch.