Hidden defect problems in real estate can have catastrophic consequences, not only for buyers, but also for former owners who are sometimes in good faith. The foundations of a house are frequently at the heart of the problems.
The example of pyrite is a real emblem of this puzzle that usually ends in court. The presence of pyrite in a dwelling is dangerous for the structure of a house. Indeed, this ore causes cracking problems which requires the intervention of a foundation repair contractor.
This is the unfortunate experience of Francine and Réjean, two unlucky homeowners living in Drummondville, Que.
Pyrite as harmful as asbestos!
The whole story comes from a stone used in construction several decades ago: pyrite. The problem is that over time this ore swells with moisture and causes foundation cracks,which leads to chain damage in homes whose repairs often cost large sums (several thousand dollars).
This phenomenon can take some time to be spotted, sometimes more than 40 years! After all these years, who should we turn to to file a complaint?
– To the former owners who succeeded each other?
– To the entrepreneur who is often not found after all these years?
– Or to the state that has not banned pyrite?
It seems that only the owner is responsible since the Civil Code of Quebec is very clear on this subject: buyers are protected from hidden defects for an unlimited period.
The story of Francine and Réjean
Far from the courts, the case takes on another human dimension, especially when we know the story of these two poor pensioners who find themselves in a real judicial turmoil.
In 1972, the couple decided to build a house that they then sold in the 90s. Several years later, they received to their astonishment a formal notice, because their house contained pyrite. The last owner turned against her seller who himself turned to the former owner, etc. until arriving at Francine and Réjean. Arriving at the end of the chain since the entrepreneur has since died, the couple Francine and Réjean find themselves solely responsible.
The most advantageous solution would be for them to find an amicable settlement with the last owner.
Hidden defect: a little reminder of the Quebec law
The Civil Code particularly protects the buyer of a property from the problems of hidden defects with the possibility for him to:
request reimbursement in proportion to the damage,
or even purely and simply the cancellation of the sale.
The problem must not be visible at the time of purchase and must cause significant damage to be recognized as a hidden defect. In any case, at the slightest suspicion of hidden defect, it is necessary to call on a lawyer specializing in real estate because the field is complex.