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Discoverying Code Violations When Buying Property

November 14th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Buyers of any type of real estate, residential or commercial, should always have the property checked out by a competent inspector who is familiar with building and fire code regulations.  Most buyers can’t recognize less obvious building, property maintenance and fire code violations and could end up having to put thousands of dollars into a property after closing the sale.  Under the International Property Maintenance Code, sellers aren’t supposed to transfer property for which they’ve received compliance orders without notifying the new owner of the order and obtaining a signed and notarized statement, signed by the new owner, acknowledging receipt of the compliance order and accepting without condition responsibility for making the corrections or repairs required.  (Section 107.6)  However, most property owners have never received a notice of violation because the problems are in the interior of the building and the local jurisdiction’s inspector has no way of knowing they exist.  When I represented clients purchasing property, I always told them to obtain a home inspection (making sure such requirement was part of the contract) and then insisted that any code violations revealed be fixed by the seller before closing or that my client be given a credit for the cost of repair.  If a seller refused to fix the problem, the buyer had the option of cancelling the contract pursuant to the conditions set forth in the contract.  People try to save money by not having a lawyer when they buy property. However, this is the time when buyers could end up spending more money than they ever expected if they don’t have proper representation.

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