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A hidden defect is any flaw or defect that arises from the design, quality, age, or construction of a building. This could also involve an unnoticed error made during the construction period and prior to the sale. Quebec’s Civil Code stipulates that during the sale, an immovable good must be ‘… exempt from hidden vices rendering the building unfit for its intended use or which decrease its usefulness to such an extent that the buyer would not have paid as high a price if he had been aware of said vices’.” (Art. 1726, QCC.) It’s important for sellers to know their right regarding hidden defects in Quebec, which can hinder the act of sale.
What exactly qualifies as a hidden defect?
Hidden defects can range from moot to weak beams, clogged drainage systems, cracked pipes, faulty roofs or dangerously crooked staircases. To avoid these issues, which may only resurface after the act of sale, sellers should hire professional and reliable home inspectors who can check the house thoroughly for any bad signs. If buyers find a hidden defect shortly after purchase, they will probably exercise their rights to contest the sale on terms of withheld information. A list of local home inspectors can be found on the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors’ website.
Here are the cases in which the seller is protected against hidden defects charge
If a buyer brings up a defect to the attention of the seller shortly after the sale, the seller is protected if:
– He or she can prove that the defect was apparent at the time of the sale or was known to the buyer;
– The defect is due to normal wear and tear;
– The defect results from misuse by the buyer, and was not present at the time of sale
– The property was sold “at buyer’s risk” with no legal warranty, and this was stipulated in the contract.
Sellers could consider Insurance for hidden defect protection:
Hidden defect insurance protects you against legal actions due to hidden defects, and lasts one year. In the case that a legal claim is made against you regarding a hidden defect, the insurance provides you with the fees necessary to assert your rights in the transaction. This could be an interesting option for sellers of older homes, where hidden defects are more common.