Before getting into the details regarding what issues arise as part of common home inspection disputes, it is important to have a basic understanding of what a home inspection is first.
A home inspection basically allows the parties to a home sales transaction to identify the repairs that must be made and if there are any defects in the home. Not only is a home inspection often required by local municipal boards to ensure the house meets the proper safety and zoning standards, but also because it can affect the price of a home.
The other reasons as to why people request home inspections are when they are constructing additions for their home, such as for a deck or another wing of the house. In these instances, the home inspection is necessary to determine whether the new addition is permitted according to local housing laws, and whether the structure would meet the requisite safety standards.
Otherwise, it could be a waste of time, resources, and money to build something that will need to be torn down due to being in violation of the local housing laws.
What are Some Common Disputes Over Home Inspections?
Disputes regarding home inspections or appraisals may arise for many reasons. In most instances, a home inspection is performed as part of the steps associated with the sale of a house.
Both parties to a home sale transaction must be in agreement about the price and value of the home. As such, a home inspection can help provide some common ground for the parties to use as a baseline for their agreement. However, the buyer and seller may still have some disputes over inspection issues, such as:
- The methods used when calculating the value of the home (e.g., fair market value versus individual inspector determinations);
- What is considered during the appraisal (e.g., defects, improvements, additions, etc.);
- Legal factors (like zoning and land use); and
- Which party will be responsible for sponsoring the home inspection.
Thus, it is very important that the home inspection or appraisal be conducted in a way that both the seller and buyer will be able to agree on. This way they can then move forward with the rest of the steps required for the home sales transaction.
How are Home Inspection Disputes Resolved?
In the event that there is a dispute over either the home inspection process or the results of one, the parties have several options available to choose from in order to resolve it. For instance, it is common practice to bring in an additional home inspector, so that the parties can get a second opinion on the property.
Another way that the parties may choose to solve the dispute is by reviewing all of the contracts and inspection documents, and then amending them to better meet the needs of both parties.
In a scenario where the home inspection is potentially fraudulent, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit to settle the dispute. This is especially true when one party has suffered major losses or has lost the title to the home in connection with the fraud.
For example, the inspector may work together with either the buyer or seller to scam the other one into making unnecessary repairs. In a case where the inspector conspires with the seller, they may falsify a report to force the buyer to pay for a fake repair and split the money.
On the other hand, in a case where the inspector conspires with the buyer, they may fake the report to force the seller to make certain repairs or installations that may not have been necessary, but allows the buyer to get such services for free.
What are the Remedies for Home Inspection Disputes?
There are several legal remedies for home inspection disputes, which may depend on the circumstances of the case and the relevant laws that apply. Some of the common remedies used in home inspection disputes include:
- Some type of monetary damages award in order to compensate the plaintiff for any losses suffered; and
- An injunction that requires the defendant to take some sort of action (such as transferring the property title to the appropriate party).
In some cases, a violation may lead to negative consequences for the home inspector themselves. For instance, a certified appraisal specialist might be required to pay fines, or they may even lose their license if they are found to be engaging in fraudulent practices.
Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for Help with Home Inspection Issues?
Home inspections play an essential role as part of the real estate process. As such, it is highly recommended that you speak to a local real estate lawyer for further legal assistance and guidance regarding home inspection laws and the appraisal process.
An experienced real estate lawyer can assist you with any questions, discuss the potential outcomes of a dispute, and provide advice about how to resolve any lingering issues. They will also know which laws are relevant to your case and how it may affect you.
In addition, your lawyer can also represent you in court should you need to file a lawsuit over your home inspection issue.