webuser_853770765

Being deceived about something after buying the house.

HU-853770765
10 months ago

Hello,

I bought the house almost a year ago thinking it's city sewers according to my real estate agent and lawyer and everyone involved. The house listing had it listed as city sewer and it is still posted as that. Then I recently found out that it is septic. Can I sue anyone involved here or take any action?

Yeah septic may not be the worst thing after all but being deceived about it doesn't feel good at all.

Please advise.

Thanks

Comments (93)

  • mxk3
    10 months ago

    Septic can be trouble-free, but they are not maintenance-free.

  • kathyg_in_mi
    10 months ago

    In our last home sewers were run down the road that touched our property. Because of that we HAD to hook up to the sewers. Cost $20,000. We had it put into our taxes to pay for it slowly, had 4 kids in college at the time.

    BUT, 5 years before sewers came to us we had to replace our septic field as it was saturated. Luckily (?) our property was large enough that they were able to put in a whole new field and did not have to rip out the old one, saving us quite a bit of $. But it still cost us $5,000. So here we were 5 years later with a fairly new field and had to hook up to sewers for $20,000.

    An there was no city water, we were on a well!

    When we sold we were happy that the new buyers were willing to continue with the sewer tax, thank God.

    Now, we are back on a well and septic system and I don't see Water and sewer coming to my area in my lifetime.

    So the OP's sellers mistake could cause problems in the future.

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  • Just Me (Zone 6a)
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    This could definitely bite OP in the future and I would pursue the disclosure deception. We are on well & septic in a rural residential area in the Midwest. We bought a 10 yo house and within three years we had to replace the septic tanks because some "genius" decided back in the mid-90's that they could make lighter weight septic tanks by adding fly ash to the concrete. Unfortunately, these concrete tanks with fly ash started to disintegrate early, a fact that many home owners in the area discovered along with us. After all was said and done, we ended up with two new poly tanks to the tune of $1100. And of course, we have the pumping and digging costs every other year. OTOH, my brother lives two miles from us, has a much older septic system, and has never had a problem. But it does happen.

  • PRO
    Charles Ross Homes
    10 months ago

    @bry911,

    Jokes about stuff flowing downhill and payday being on Thursday aside, not all sewers are gravity flow. In our region, some service areas have force sewer mains (which required the homeowner to have a grinder pump) and others have vacuum systems.

    And now back the OP's dilemma...

    In my experience, Realtors rarely get all the details and features of a real estate listing correct. I think you'll find some boilerplate language that states the information on the listing is deemed reliable, but not guaranteed. I've never known a Realtor to intentionally misrepresent a detail or feature on a listing and I don't think any would knowingly put their license at risk to make a single sale.

  • Seabornman
    10 months ago

    The required Seller's Disclosure Statement would shed some light.

  • Lala
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    Seabornman- that's what I've said twice.

  • HU-853770765
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Hello all, Thanks for the replies and apologies for the late reply. I have had a family emergency over the weekend.


    Unfortunately I don't even have a copy of the disclosure statement (Stupid me but it was my first time purchasing a house) and my real estate agent is saying it's not available because I accepted the 500 dollars to waive it?


    Like a lot of you said, septic can be an issue in future if not now. The least is someone has to pay for the cost of connecting to sewer if possible.


    I spoke to a real estate attorney and he is going to get back to me but he said there are possible solutions legally and someone is at fault here so I shall wait and see. But my attorney said the most at fault is my inspector.


    Whether septic is a real issue or not isn't what really matters. It is the fact that I was fooled. And that hurts. I'm pretty sure someone intentionally lied about that info.


    I have a copy of the MLS listing that real estate agents use and it says city sewers in it. Can that help my case in any way?



  • A S
    10 months ago

    You are partially at fault if you waived getting the statement!

  • Lala
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    I doubt the accuracy of MLS information is guaranteed. Unfortunately, I would think if you waived the disclosure, you're out of luck with your deception concerns.

  • shead
    10 months ago

    MLS listings can be notoriously inaccurate.


    Frankly, it makes no sense to me as to why $500 in lieu of disclosure statement would have even been offered if there wasn't SOMETHING to hide/not disclose and I equally have no idea as to why that didn't raise a red flag to you or your realtor. Why would you even accept it if you didn't also accept the very real risk that comes along with that acceptance? Claiming naiveté only goes so far in the real world.

  • strategery
    10 months ago

    With septic, you cannot clean latex paint brushes and cans in the sink, and cannot dump normal chemicals down the drain. It kills the flora. I'm never buying another house with a septic system.


    I also will never buy another house on well water, or at least one with much iron. Maintenance on the water filtration system is just too much hassle for me, and good systems are expensive.


    Back on topic... it's still unclear to me exactly what OP's beef is. Miffed at feeling "deceived", or would not have purchased house if it was known there was a septic system?

  • HU-853770765
    Original Author
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    I know I'm really stupid for waiving but when all parties assured me it is sewer, I had no reason to doubt all. And it was my first time buying a house.

    I just spoke to 2 real estate lawyers and they are saying the blame falls on the inspector 100 % because he should of known and discussed it with me. Then after, it falls on the agents involved.

    Strategery: My issue is I should of known about it being septic prior to purchase so I can have the chance to decide if I wanna move forward or not. And the truth is, I most likely wouldn't have bought the house if it is septic. I just don't like it. So it is both, feeling deceived and not being given the options prior to purchase

  • Seabornman
    10 months ago

    In our state a disclosure statement is required by law.

  • Lala
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    Did the lawyers look over the inspectors contact?

  • HU-853770765
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    LALA: No. Not yet.

  • shead
    10 months ago

    I just pulled up the home inspection that the buyers had the last time we sold a house. There was NOTHING in the report regarding sewage disposal and whether it was septic or sewer but it was septic.

  • HU-853770765
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Home inspection report has nothing regarding whether it is sewer or septic. I just checked.

  • Lala
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    FYI- This article is written by an attorney. I don't know if it varies by state. It says, "Home inspectors are responsible for disclosing only what they can see in plain view and reasonably access in the home." Futher, "What inspectors don't typically look for...Detached structures such as sheds and some garages, code compliances, termites and pests, pools and hot tubs, smoke detectors, sprinkler systems, septic tanks and landscaping."

    https://lasvegassun.com/native/peters-and-associates-law-firm/2017/apr/10/help-my-home-inspector-missed-a-big-problem/

    I'm not trying to be a Debbie downer. I would pursue all possible avenues through the advice your attorney. Best of luck and keep us posted!

  • just_janni
    10 months ago

    How the heck can you waive a disclosure doc? (not pointing fingers at you - you're a newbie in this - that's why you had experts with you to 'help')


    In our state, they are usually right out there on a counter when you walk into the house. And certainly not something you should have to pay for (since they gave you a credit [seriously - what the hell?] it's effectively making you pay for them telling you things that you need / should / legally must know)


    I would be all over your Realtor here. This entire thing stinks to high heaven. (sewer / septic joke)


    I don't blame you for being angry.

  • A S
    10 months ago

    @just_janni in my area they are also out and about. Anyone can see the document and it is not paid for nor waived.


    @HU-853770765 where in your sale does it show that you waived the document? You need to be cautious moving forward. Once you engage a lawyer you will be shelling out money. I like the idea below someone had about writing a letter to all involved and figuring out how to solve this yourselves. The lawyers fees will make it a waste of time.


    @Lala our last home inspector also had similar guidelines as you posted.

  • HU-853770765
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    I know I'm so stupid for signing any waivers and I'm so angry over it. You wouldn't believe me but the house is worth 2 million dollars and I got it from my hard work and I can't believe I fell for this silly mistake. I guess I trusted them.

  • Just Me (Zone 6a)
    10 months ago

    We are in the process of selling, and a well and septic inspection was mandatory for the sale. Possibly a state regulation or maybe the mortgage company required it.


    Also, I agree with Strategery re: well water. Ameliorating really hard water is an ongoing nightmare and really expensive. We didn't realize what we were getting into and 15 years later, it's one of things I'm looking forward to not dealing with in our new home. (off topic, but couldn't resist chiming in...)

  • A S
    10 months ago

    You just need to know what you want to get out of this. Now that fault appears to be shared and includes you what is your end game? If it is money then unlikely to happen. If it is an apology or some kind of acknowledgement maybe? Have you had the septic field and tank inspected? Do you know if it is all good or not?

  • David Cary
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    For those that think this wasn't an honest mistake - who in their right mind would think they could get away with such an intentional deception? It requires so many mistakes and a naive buyer. Most of the time, such a deception would piss off a buyer and a potential sale would not go through. I would not buy a septic house for my primary residence and so would not even look at one. If I went to one where the MLS was wrong, I would likely file a grievance with the state realtor's board just for wasting my time.

    It just doesn't seem plausible to me that this was an intentional deception. It is like trying to sell a 4 cylinder Mustang and listing it as an 8 cylinder. All you do is piss off perspective buyers when they find out. You would have to get really lucky to find someone who didn't realize the difference.


    But hey - anything is possible. And all RE is local.

    I am pretty sure our state requires a septic inspection at time of sale also.

  • bry911
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    If you have spoken to an attorney, then I would encourage you to listen to that attorney.

    Your realtor is probably not an attorney and so I am not sure I would trust the realtor about the waiver. In many areas and loan programs a septic inspection is required, so I would argue that the seller can't actively commit mortgage fraud or break required statutes by getting a waiver from you.

  • bry911
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    For those that think this wasn't an honest mistake - who in their right mind would think they could get away with such an intentional deception?

    I understand the temptation to assign motive, but it really doesn't matter. When your honest mistakes cause harm to others, then you are still at fault.

    It really comes down to the reasonable person test, would a reasonable person selling a house with a septic system be aware of the septic system. If the answer to that question is yes, which I believe it to be, then in my opinion the standard of due (reasonable) care kicks in and we are done.

  • PRO
    JudyG Designs
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    OP is saying septic. Title 5 is State ruled with the town's building depart ment and Board of Health involved. In MA, at least, no septic gets lost or forgotten.

    I'm wondering if it is a cesspool, not a septic system. Septics are easy enough to find in a yard and easy enough to prove one exists at the Board of Health. If you can't find it yourself, for heavens sake, call a professional before you pay a lawyer. If found, he tests it and it fails, ah, then you have an reason for attorney. If it doesn't fail, keep it as is. Have it pumped every two years and it will last until the environmentalists decide to come up with another plan to cost us all money.

    https://www.wikihow.com/Find-Your-Septic-Tank

    Right now, you are making things too complicated. You either have a septic or you don't. Plain and simple. You can't move forward until you determine which is which. And you are wasting your money talking with lawyers at this point. Baby steps!


    As far as washing chemicals, paint or solvents down you drain is irresponsible. Your town will have special disposal days for anything that would contaminate ground and ground water.

  • Lala
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    The OP stated he found out he had a septic tank when he was having a fountain installed. Prior to that, during the home buying process and inspection, he had no knowledge this was the case.

  • A S
    10 months ago

    Is OP even in the US? Do we know where this is?

  • Lala
    10 months ago

    HU-853770765 - Where are you located?

  • Louise Smith
    10 months ago

    My perfectly functioning septic system is 40 years old. Pump out periodically (based on number of people living in home), add enzymes occasionally to keep bio action going. They used to say no garbage disposals, but apparently they are ok now. Disclosure is one thing, but don't dis all septic systems.

  • shead
    10 months ago

    It’s quite possible that the previous owners thought they were on sewer if that is what they had been told. It is likely? Probably not. Possible? Yes, especially since the OP has gone this long without knowing and only knew because of a fountain installation.

  • HU-853770765
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    I'm located in Staten Island, New york. Also, the previous owner never really lived in the house from what I know. I'm blaming the real estate agent as well as inspector more.

  • live_wire_oak
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    The inspector is totally NOT at fault. No standard inspection includes the sewage routing. It just doesn’t. If a septic is listed, then a completely separate septic inspection by a plumber is done. That has zero to do with a standard home inspection. A standard home inspection is ONLY about things that you can SEE. If you didn’t know for a whole year that you had septic, then it was not obvious or visible. Zero standing for complaints there.


    Believe it or not, there are locations where homes are routinely sold “As Is” with no disclosure agreement provided. New York is one of those. Pay $500, and no disclosure is required to be given by the seller. Zero standing for a complaint there either.

    If the previous owner didn’t live there, then he may have never known what system the home had. Sometimes, poop just happens a as Nd there is no “fault” attached. If you have a working system, it at least poop does go down hill and doesn’t back up into your basement.

    Count your blessings and get the tank inspected. It’s not a big deal living on a septic. All the list of things that you “can’t” do with septic? You shouldn’t do them with a sewer either. A sewer should never have chemicals flushed down into it. Or paint. That’s standard unacceptable behavior for any waste system.

    Your feelings are valid. They are also irrelevant to any future actions. Wanting to make someone “pay” for your angst is not going to happen. You have no standing for complaints. You own the issues. Get a plan in place to deal with them. Then do it. Like any adult in a less than ideal situation. We don’t always come out on top. You’re still ahead of the game. You own a house. The septic appears to be working. You don’t have a sewer bill. No one is knocking on your door to demand that you connect.

  • maifleur03
    10 months ago

    I am wondering how long the previous owners owned the property before they sold it. If it was a short time or from an estate they may not have known what they had. I do question the realtor's portion in all of this but you purchased the house and unless you want to move out of it right now it is yours.

  • lyfia
    10 months ago

    I see you're in New York which I think is one of few or maybe the only state where the seller can pay to not disclose anything about the house so I don't think you have much to go on there at all. It really is up to a buyer to do their due diligence. I'm sorry you didn't have the support you needed during your purchase.

    Here's an excerpt from this link (https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/new-york-state-home-sellers-disclosures-required-under-state-law.html#:~:text=New%20York%20law%20requires%20you,home%20defects%20to%20the%20buyer.&text=Under%20today's%20law%2C%20you%20%E2%80%94%20as,the%20course%20of%20the%20sale.)

    "Now, in addition to facing potential liability for failing to disclose under the exceptions to “caveat emptor,” you (as a home seller) must make certain disclosures under the law or pay a credit of $500 to the buyer at closing. While the PCDA requires you to complete a standardized disclosure statement and deliver it to the buyer before the buyer signs the final purchase contract, in practice, most home sellers in New York opt not to complete the statement and instead pay the credit."


    I've had a septic system of one sort or another for 20 years now and we've not had any issues with anything backing up etc. The only issues we've had is having to replace the pump and a few other things on our aerobic system that we have now. This is mainly from us not knowing any better and trusting the builder to put in something good that turned out to be less than stellar. Since we had those things replaced things have gone smoothly with this one too. I do recommend hiring someone to inspect it for you and hopefully all is good and you'll have lots of years on the system.

  • just_janni
    10 months ago

    That is one messed up law. You can waive disclosing anything for $500. Seems like a no brainer! Is it up to the discretion of the seller? Extra f'd up!


    OP - I am sorry - this sucks.


    On another note - don't stress - it also appears common in your area if you are on septic, I expect others are too. We're doing septic in new build - it just is what it is.

  • bry911
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    Believe it or not, there are locations where homes are routinely sold “As Is” with no disclosure agreement provided. New York is one of those. Pay $500, and no disclosure is required to be given by the seller. Zero standing for a complaint there either.

    All home sales are as-is, unless you have specifically warranteed something. That simply means there is no warranty.

    Looking at a few cases in New York, the law appears a bit more nuanced than people are reporting. If a buyer is not provided an inspection report before closing, the seller must pay the buyer $500. This does not relieve the seller completely of his responsibility to report defects and does not allow a seller to make any other misrepresentations. Remember there was a misrepresentation and so now the question becomes was there a duty to correct that before closing.

    In my opinion, once you have spoken to an attorney listen to that attorney rather than anyone here, including me.

    ---

    Furthermore, the OP absolutely has standing. Standing doesn't consider the merits of a case just who has the right to make the case. In a contract, all parties have standing if there is injury.

    As for the people saying the inspector or homeowner, or realtor isn't responsible, let's see who pays. My bet is that this will get settled pretty quickly.

  • Little Bug
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    I’m focused on one point you have continually made thru this thread: you think you are entitled to damages because if you had known this house was on septic, you wouldn’t have purchased it. My point: if you felt so strongly that you didn’t want septic, why didn’t you find out FOR CERTAIN beforehand? Didn’t you study the home’s utility bills to look at sewer charges? And you’ve already stated you waived the disclosure statement.

    I think your argument is weak. Understandably you are upset, but are upset feelings compensable?

  • A S
    10 months ago

    I’ve bought three homes so far in my life and have never looked at utility bills before buying any. What a bizarre comment.

  • Ig222
    10 months ago

    Actually I asked for utilities bills when I bought my condo, not do much for sewer but for gas and electricity.

    It would not have crossed my mind to ask for sceptic, but in my state there is a mandatory inspection for sceptic and the user has to present a special document indicated the condition of the tank. This said, it seems the op asked and was told it was sewers.

  • A S
    10 months ago

    Did they ask or did they assume the listing was accurate? Two different things.

  • wantoretire_did
    10 months ago

    A S I’m guessing you never bought in an area where winter heating and/or summer cooling might be issues. In which cases, it would be foolhardy to not have a good idea what they would run.

  • David Cary
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    I have asked for utility bills before I rented.

    One place in Buffalo was a bargain at $450 a month for 3 bedroom. The heat in winter was also about $450. This was 25 years ago.

    I think whether or not you ask for bills is a function of location, age of structure and your financial savvy. Probably not common here in NC where the climate is relatively moderate and the electricity is inexpensive. But an old house in Massachusetts heated with oil. Different story.

    The OP lives in NY. There is a different concept of deception in NY versus the rest of the country. When I made my comments about honest mistake, I didn't realize the location of OP.

    I lived in various parts of NY for 20+ years so feel reasonably qualified to make that generalization.

  • A S
    10 months ago

    I also live in Vancouver where the market has moved quickly for most of the last decade and a half with a few dips now and again. At times it’s so fast and furious people don’t even get an inspection or anything. Our offer, on the tear down we bought, was a condition free offer. It was what was acceptable at the time.

    I just asked my husband who is a real estate law are here and he said asking for the utility information could be possible but never happens. So yes it appears highly regional.

  • Little Bug
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    I think it’s bizarre that some of you think it’s bizarre that I ask for utility bills. LOL. Temperatures in the midwest in winter can fall to 10 degrees and stay there for weeks, and in August can top 90 degrees and stay for weeks. Utility costs are important.

    Asking for bills is a quick indicator of the weather efficiency of a home. It does not replace a proper home inspection but serves as another checkpoint. Very common where I live In north Missouri.

  • A S
    10 months ago

    Like I said above Little Bug it appears regional and even market specific.

  • Louise Smith
    10 months ago

    wantoretire_did

    A S I’m guessing you never bought in an area where winter heating and/or summer cooling might be issues. In which cases, it would be foolhardy to not have a good idea what they would run.

    Many years ago in winter, I was buying a house in New England. Oil prices were sky high and everyone was trying to make their houses energy efficient. I looked at many houses but one still stays in my mind. The owner had laid out the utility and oil bills for the last three years with a covering note that we should notice how little it cost to heat the house. Well, he was right. The oil bills were miniscule. What he forgot to do, however, was raise the thermostat when potential buyers were coming over. The house was freezing! About 60 degrees indoors. So yes, he spent very little on heating the house, but my tree house was warmer than that house. No, I didn't buy it but I still remember it.

  • maifleur03
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    I had to chuckle at A S's comment that they purchased a tear down. If I was purchasing a tear down I would not bother with asking about utilities either.

    When we purchased this house in 1993 the utilities would provide an average usage to the public. Not certain if they still do or not. People should ask especially in hot or cold climates so they would not be surprised when their first ac or heating bill is over $500 for a small house.

  • A S
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    We also purchased two other homes and lived in them and didn't ask for utilities in either case. Not done here.