Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Florida Real Estate Disclosure Law

Florida real estate law requires sellers to divulge all the known problems and flaws of a home or property when it’s put on the market to be sold. The information is called a seller’s disclosure and it’s given to buyers who want to know the reasons for the property pricing.

This disclosure should share everything seen and unseen that’s known about the property by the seller. It acts as a guide to the value and price of a property being sold.

The disclosure must be filled out honestly and is designed to help sellers know everything they want to know about problems in the history of the property.

Sellers have to comply with Florida’s laws about disclosure requirements. Any sellers who do not disclose what is reasonable for them to have known can be held legally and financially responsible. 

The fallout from hiding what should have been disclosed can lead to very expensive lawsuits. The buyer can sue a deceitful seller for fraud. The statute of limitations for the Florida Seller’s Disclosure Law is five years in Florida.

The condition of the real estate property is based on what the seller knows about the property condition. Buyers, sellers and realtors refer to the information when evaluating, marketing, or presenting the seller’s property to prospective buyers.

Get a Home Inspection

In order to prevent surprises it’s a good idea to have a home inspected before it goes on the market. This way any serious, potentially problematic faults, weaknesses or failures will be known. Eventually an inspection will be done by the buyer and if you fear there are issues but ignore them, you’ll end up paying for their repair, replacement or failure to disclose.
Disclosing Material Facts and Hidden Defects

The Florida Seller’s Disclosure became mandatory in 1985 when in a landmark case, Johnson v. Davis, the Florida Supreme Court found that sellers cannot conceal material defects in property for sale.

In Johnson v. Davis, the sellers denied that marks on a ceiling were leaking. When the buyers wanted to purchase the home the sellers said that the roof did leak, but that it had been repaired. However, when it rained, the roof leaked. The buyers sued the sellers and won.

Material defects are any facts that may have a significant and reasonable impact on the market value of the property. Material defects are visible to the eye. Under Florida law, these material defects must be shared with a potential buyer.

According to the Florida Bar: A buyer of residential real estate can maintain a cause of action for nondisclosure of latent defects and is not required to prove a false statement by the seller in order to recover. The seller now has an affirmative obligation to disclose known material defects. Since a buyer has no duty to find a latent defect, but only one that is “readily observable,” a non-disclosing seller may not defend on the basis that a ‘reasonably diligent’ inspection would have disclosed the material defect.

For example, defects in the materials used to build the home must be disclosed by Florida commercial and residential real estate sellers. This is particularly important in older homes where dangerous materials like lead paint or asbestos were included in ceilings or walls.

Non-Apparent Defects

In addition to apparent defects in the home, the state of Florida requires that non-apparent defects are disclosed. Non-apparent defects are Florida disclosures must list serious material defects voluntarily.

Crime Scenes

If a murder or suicide took place in a home or property the information does not have to be disclosed to any potential buyer.

Hazardous Materials or Substances

If hazardous substances or contaminated sites are located on or nearby the vicinity of residential property it must be disclosed according to the Florida disclosure law.

Florida real estate law requires sellers to provide full disclosures when listing a home for sale even if listed "As Is." An “As Is” contract does not relieve a seller of the duty to disclose. An "as is" contract does not allow a seller to withhold knowledge of known defects. Defects that materially affect the value of a property that can’t be immediately seen or discovered by the buyer must be disclosed by the seller.

If a seller tries to repair a defect and does not disclose it and that defect leads to additional damage that they may/may not have been aware of they will also be responsible for this additional damage.

Sellers can only disclose what they are aware of. If a repair was made and seller thought the problem was resolved (in good faith), the seller would need to disclose that a repair was made.
You can’t rely on the honesty of others while buying or selling property. The buyer must be aware and the seller must be cautious.

Whenever buying or selling a property it’s important to consult with an attorney particularly with the many disclosures, and requirements sellers and buyers must provide, sign and review when buying or selling property.


Consult with Eric Lanigan and Roddy Lanigan regarding any real estate issues, contracts or disputes. Eric Lanigan has practiced business, civil, financial and real estate law in Florida since 1976; Roddy Lanigan has practiced since 2007. The Lanigans are experienced attorneys who provide clients with aggressive representation with a personal touch. 

16 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. Does the property disclosure laws still true for a sold "as is" property, when the seller is not a bank but a private party?

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    1. Hi Lisa, You're asking a very specific question. We can only provide answers in formal consultations. The state you live in, the property and other aspects play into the response which we cannot deal with online. It's not allowed. Feel free to call the office Lisa at 407-740-7379. We can talk and clarify your issues. Thanks for your comment!

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  3. How about nuisance neighbors or the fact that a condo was flooded 2 year$ prior to the sale.....

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  4. Hi there, one thing that is imperative in any purchase is the sellers disclosure form. Water damage is included in this. Nuisance neighbors could be identified prior to purchase only through formal police complaints, homeowners association formal documentation.

    This is not an answer, CruiseAddict. So if you'd like to know more it will be dependent upon the state real estate law in which you reside. Please contact our office for a formal consultation as we do not and cannot advise on social media. 407-740-7379.

    Real estate disclosure law is complex and varies by state. Always have an experienced attorney review all real estate documentation before buying property in any location.

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  5. what about an HOA having employed a law firm to represent them on a claim against a developer not being disclosed by seller nor sellers RE agent or buyers RE agent?

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    1. Hi tdt, this is a very serious situation and one for which you will want to consult with an experienced real estate attorney. We are not allowed to consult online. We ask that you find a lawyer who knows your state laws to deal with this and answer you thoughtfully with the legal insights that you require. Thank you and while this is not an answer, you will be able to find one. We are in Winter Park, Florida. 407-740-7379 on Florida Real Estate Disclosure Law

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  6. I bought a house that had a sewer back up in it years before I bought it. The owner at the time gave the house back to the bank and they sold it to an investment company who fixed the house. The investment company fixed what could be seen but did not fix the plumbing. The toilet will flush as long as the is no solids put in it. I received no disclosure at all for this property and spoke to two plumbers who say the plumbing has to be replaced. The house was sold as is but without disclosure and the sellers realtor said there was nothing to disclose. Help.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Hi Kristen, this sounds frustrating for you. We may not consult online. We ask that you work with a skilled real estate lawyer who knows your state laws provide you the legal insights that you require. Thank you and while this is not an answer, you may call us in Winter Park, Florida. 407-740-7379 on Florida Real Estate Disclosure Law

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  8. how long after a contract is executed does a seller have to disclose any issues?

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  9. how long after a contract is executed does a seller have to disclose any issues?

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  10. If a roof leak occurred after contract but before closing, is the seller obligated to notify buyer?

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