Minnesota Real Estate Disclosure Laws | Should I File a Lawsuit?
The real estate litigation attorneys at Morris Law Group, P.A. are well-versed in Minnesota real estate disclosure laws for sellers. We understand what sellers must disclose and what they don’t need to share — and what buyers should expect in the entire process.
Buying a new home is a complex process that can feel overwhelming. Nothing nothing is more disappointing than coming out on the other end of that process with feelings of regret, fear, or anger. You deserve to be happy in your new home. Should you file a lawsuit if the seller failed to disclose problems? Possibly. The Twin Cities real estate attorneys at Morris Law Group help you through that question and more. We can find the right answers to bring you and your family some peace of mind.
Minnesota Law’s Take on Seller Disclosure
Minnesota lawmakers have long recognized that buying a home is one of life’s biggest purchases. Because of that, state legal statutes set clear expectations and rules around the process of real estate disclosure when buying or selling a home. Minnesota Statutes 513.52 through 513.60 outline much of what a buyer and seller need to know – and more importantly what needs to be disclosed – before transferring the property. If these rules are not properly followed, the buyer may have grounds to file a lawsuit to receive damages or fair compensation.
General Disclosure Requirements
Minnesota law specifies that the seller of a residential property must make a written disclosure to the prospective buyer that includes all “material facts of which the seller is aware that could adversely and significantly affect 1) an ordinary buyer’s use and enjoyment of the property, or 2) any intended use of the property of which the seller is aware” (Minnesota Statute 513.55).
Depending on circumstances and context, many issues come down to awareness. The law does not require a seller to do any intrusive inspection of their own home in an effort to make themselves aware of a matter. If there are issues happening in the ceilings or walls but no damage is visible from the exterior of the ceiling or wall, the Seller might not be aware of an issue and the issue won’t be disclosed. But, if the Seller had reason to believe there was an issue or had seen some water stains, for example, that information would need to be disclosed to the buyer. The disclosure requirements are very much a case by case basis and you should contact an attorney to clarify duties that exist in your specific situation. Determining whether or not a seller was aware of the buyer’s intended use of their new property is an important component of figuring out whether or not to file a lawsuit—and our attorneys are well-equipped to find those answers.
Exceptions to the Rule: When Disclosures Aren’t Required
A written disclosure that meets the requirements of Minnesota law must be prepared by the seller of a home—or by a representative real estate licensee—in the transfer of any residential real estate, whether the property was sold, exchanged, leased with option to purchase, or any other possible option. However, there are some exceptions to when a disclosure must be provided. These exceptions are provided in Minnesota Statute 513.54, which summarizes that disclosure requirements do not apply to the sale of nonresidential real property or the transfer of property in several specific situations. If the property is being transferred to heirs, or to certain relatives of a seller, or if it’s being transferred as a result of a foreclosure or a decree of marriage dissolution, then a disclosure does not need to be provided. Importantly, this section of the law also states that a disclosure does not need to be provided when transferring a newly constructed residential property, the disclosures only apply to those properties that have been occupied or previously owned. There are several scenarios in which a disclosure might not be necessary. The Minnesota lawyers at Morris Law Group can help you clarify whether your property needs a disclosure or not.
What Doesn’t Need to Be Disclosed?
The question of what does or does not constitute a material fact about a property under Minnesota’s disclosure laws can have a diversity of answers depending on each individual case. Thanks to Statute 513.56, it is somewhat easier to determine what specifically does not need to be disclosed versus what does. This portion of the law outlines three general facts that the seller is not required to disclose to a prospective buyer:
– There is no need to clarify that the property was occupied by someone who was infected or suspected to be infected with HIV or AIDS.
– The seller has no obligation to disclose that the property was the site of a suicide, an accidental or natural death, or any perceived paranormal activity.
– There is no need to clarify for a buyer that the home is in a neighborhood that contains a nursing home, a community-based residential facility or any other family adult home.
Minnesota Disclosure: Who is Liable… and Who Isn’t?
Let’s say you’ve made your home purchase, you’re all moved in with your family, and you find a significant construction defect that could put your family at risk. Do you have grounds for a lawsuit—and is your seller liable? Minnesota Statute 513.57 helps to clarify. The statutes states that if a seller was aware of material facts pertaining to the property and yet failed to make a disclosure, they may be held liable. But if an error, inaccuracy or omission of any pertinent information was made “not within the personal knowledge” of the seller, they may not be held liable. The statute further clarifies that if “the seller fails to disclose information that could be obtained only through inspection or observation of inaccessible portions of the real estate or discovered only by a person with expertise in a science or trade beyond the knowledge of the seller”, they also may not be held liable.
Importantly, there’s also a statute of limitations to liability when it comes to disclosures. Generally speaking, claims need to be brought within two years of the purchase date. However, sometimes a general fraud claim can extend the statute of limitations to up to four years.
When it comes to questions of seller’s disclosures, and whether or not it’s time to bring a lawsuit, call Morris Law Group. Minnesota laws around this topic can leave much to be interpreted or parsed—and we are here for you when the need arises to help you determine whether or not to bring a case.
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