Potential Property Defects

If you are a buyer looking to purchase a property in British Columbia, you have the right to ask for information about the condition of the property and any defects that may affect its value or desirability.

This is known as the “duty to disclose,” and it requires the seller of residential property to disclose any latent defects (defects that are not readily visible or apparent) that the seller knows about, or ought to know about, and that a reasonable person would consider material (significant) in deciding whether to purchase the property.

What Does a Seller or Landlord Have to Disclose to a Buyer or Tenant?

Under the Real Estate Development Marketing Act, a seller must disclose any latent defects (defects that are not readily visible or apparent) that the seller knows about, or ought to know about, and that a reasonable person would consider material (significant) in deciding whether to purchase the property. Latent defects are defects that are not readily visible or apparent, and may not be discovered by a casual inspection of the property. Examples of latent defects include problems with the foundation, roof, or electrical wiring.

A seller must also disclose any patent defects (defects that are visible or apparent) that the seller knows about, or ought to know about, and that a reasonable person would consider material in deciding whether to purchase the property. Patent defects are defects that are visible or apparent, and can be discovered by a casual inspection of the property. Examples of patent defects include a leaking roof or peeling paint.

What To Do If You Are Concerned About a Defect

If you are concerned about a defect that may affect the sale of your property, it is important to consult with a lawyer to understand your legal obligations and options. You may also wish to consider negotiating with the buyer to see if a mutually acceptable solution can be reached, such as a reduction in the purchase price to reflect the cost of repairing the defect.

It is important to note that the duty to disclose applies only to residential property that is being sold. If you are renting a property, the landlord is not required to disclose latent or patent defects to you. However, the landlord is required to maintain the rental property in a good state of repair and fit for habitation, and must repair or fix any defects that affect the safety or habitability of the property.

What Is A Stigma?

A stigma is a negative association that is attached to a property, which can affect its value or desirability. Examples of stigmas that may affect a property include things like a history of criminal activity on the property, a previous owner who was well-known for causing disturbances, or a property that has been the site of a traumatic event, such as a murder or suicide.

In general, stigmas do not need to be disclosed to potential buyers or renters unless they are material (significant) and affect the value or desirability of the property. However, it is important to note that there may be some exceptions to this rule, depending on the specific circumstances. 

For example, in some cases, a seller may be required to disclose a stigma if it is a latent defect that the seller knows about, or ought to know about, and that a reasonable person would consider material in deciding whether to purchase the property.

How Do I Give or Find This Information?

As a seller, it is always a good idea to be honest and transparent when selling a property, as this can help avoid misunderstandings and potential legal issues down the road. If you are unsure about your legal obligations or have any concerns about disclosing a defect, it is a good idea to seek legal advice.

As a buyer, if you are concerned about the condition of a property you are considering purchasing, it is a good idea to ask the seller or the seller’s real estate agent for any information about latent or patent defects that may affect the property. You may also wish to have the property inspected by a professional home inspector to identify any potential defects that may not be readily apparent. This can help ensure that you are fully informed about the condition of the property and can make an informed decision about whether to proceed with the purchase.