The buyer’s responsibility
What happens if you discover faults or defects in your new house or apartment? Things that you were not aware of when you made the purchase?
Many people often take it for granted that the seller is responsible for covering the associated costs. This is true in some – but far from all – cases. As the buyer, you are responsible for examining the property carefully before you sign the purchase contract. And it is important that you report anything that may indicate a fault or defect. Fundamentally, the house or apartment is sold “as viewed” with regard to its age, price and use, and the seller is never responsible for faults and defects that could have been discovered during a thorough examination.
It is not the agent’s task to carry out the examination. The role of the agent is to remain impartial between the buyer and seller.
When you examine a property …
- Use a pocket torch to examine dark areas thoroughly
- Lift carpets and curtains to check the condition of walls and floors
- Study all aspects of the property, such as the land, the basement and the attic
- Pay close attention to the façade and the roof
- Make sure to examine other buildings and facilities – such as wells and drains – that belong to the property.
“Hidden faults” is the term for faults or defects of which the purchaser was unaware – and could not reasonably have been expected to discover – when making the purchase. For the seller to be held responsible for a hidden fault, the fault in question must result in the property deviating from what the buyer could reasonably expect. For example, as a buyer you cannot reasonably expect a 20-year-old pool pump to be in perfect working order; you should realise that you will probably have to replace the pump in the immediate future.
In practice, you could say that the types of hidden fault for which the seller is ultimately responsible have to do with defects in the design or construction of the building. However, as properties are bought and sold “as viewed” (cuerpo cierto), the chances of successfully filing claims for compensation are very limited.