How to detect hidden defects in a home?

Buying a second-hand home can be an interesting investment and a great opportunity to acquire a property. Normally, this type of property has a more affordable price, has a better location and is subject to a lower tax burden compared to new construction homes since, while the VAT applicable to newly built apartments and houses is 10 %, in second-hand properties the Property Transaction Tax (ITP) is equivalent to 4%.

However, buying a used home also has some drawbacks. One of the most common is the lack of efficient systems, which will force us to make an extra investment to reduce pollution and energy consumption in our new home.

Along with this, when buying a second-hand home we can also find ourselves with more serious problems such as “hidden defects”, that is, those defects of a house that are not seen with the naked eye and that we can only detect once we live in it or make a reform, when we have already signed the contract of sale.

The hidden defects of the house are related to problems and defects in the water installation, foundation problems, poor thermal or acoustic behavior, problems with the electrical system or faulty finishes. They are listed in the Civil Code (Articles 1484 and 1485 of the Civil Code) and can be claimed in court.

What does the Law say about the hidden defects of a house?

From the legal point of view, the hidden defects of the house are defects in facilities and structures that prevent the use or full use of an asset, in this case a flat or a house.

For these defects to be considered hidden defects, three situations must exist:

  1. Be serious and alter the purpose for which the property was purchased.
  2. Be prior to the date of sale of the home.
  3. Be hidden, that is, not be perceptible to the naked eye.

For example, hidden defects are considered humidity related to problems in the asphalt fabric and that appear two months after the sale. However, chips in the kitchen or defects previously known to the buyer and seller, and which have served to negotiate a lower price of the property, will not be considered as such.

Examples of hidden defects in a house: 

  • Related to water . Moisture, leaks and leaks as a result of poor waterproofing or deteriorated pipes.
  • Related to the foundation. Cracks and fissures derived from reforms carried out on the property or in neighboring houses.
  • Related to finishes. Bulging, discoloration or detachment in floors, walls, paintings or carpentry due to poor installation or use of poor-quality materials.
  • Related to poor thermal and / or acoustic behavior. Noise problems, heat leaks or poor insulation due to poor placement of materials and elements (windows, doors, insulating materials, etc.)
  • Related to a malfunction of the home’s electrical system. Misplaced or faulty switches, lights or outlets, as well as faulty or outdated installations.

Steps to detect hidden defects in a home 

Detecting hidden defects in a house is not easy. Therefore, if you are going to buy a second-hand home from Sky Marketing we recommend:

Hire an expert or a specialized company

In this case, the detection of hidden defects will be assured and the cost of the service will be a long-term investment. You can assume this expense or agree to pay it half with the seller.

Request from the owner the certificate of Technical Inspection of Buildings (ITE)

The ITE is a document that confirms that the common elements of a property (sanitation and plumbing installations, facades, garages, etc.) comply with all the safety and habitability requirements contemplated by the legislation. As a buyer, you are entitled to request this document at all times.

Add a clause on hidden defects in the sales contract

This advice will not help you to detect the hidden defects of your future home, but it is a way to protect yourself since, if damages arise, you will have less problems to claim.

Finally, from Tajarat properties we suggest you inform yourself “on your own” about the status of the building. Asking community managers and neighbors about problems in the property and in other homes can help you detect possible hidden defects before making the sale.

I have detected hidden defects in my home: Can I make a claim? What are my options?

According to its definition in the Civil Code, the hidden defects of a house ” diminish this use in such a way that, if the buyer had known about them, he would not have acquired it or would have given a lower price for it.” For this reason, if you detect these flaws, you have the right to claim by following these steps:

  • Assess the type of damage and its relationship to problems in construction or improper use of facilities, materials, etc.
  • Notify the seller in writing of the defects and their consequences, as well as the deadlines for solving the problem.
  • If the seller accepts the claim, our recommendation is to go to an official body, such as the Official College of Surveyors and Architects, to act as a mediator and thus solve the problem according to the Civil Mediation Law 5/2012 and Royal Decree 980 / 2013 avoiding going to trial.
  • If the seller does not accept, you should go to a lawyer and an expert, who will advise you on the process to initiate a judicial process.

With both mediation and trial, your claim can be resolved:

  • With a redhibitory action. Basically, this resolution means that the detected defect makes the habitability of the home impossible. Because it is a serious situation, you can cancel the purchase contract and request that the full money be returned to you, all associated expenses and compensation for damages.
  • With a “quanti minoris” action. The buyer will assume his responsibility for the hidden defect and will agree to make a reduction in the price of the house, generally the equivalent cost of the reform to be carried out. In this way, you will be able to solve the defect without involving an extra expense for you, although you will not be able to claim any compensation.

When should I file a claim for hidden defects in a second-hand home? What happens if I detect the defects after that time?

The term for this claim, in the case of second-hand homes, is six months. But what if the flaws are detected a long time later?

In these cases, the responsibility will no longer fall on the seller, although you can remedy it with your home insurance because the Civil Liability policies can partially or totally cover these damages.

  • If the damage causes serious damage to the building’s infrastructure, the warranty period is up to 10 years and 100% of the renovation will be covered.
  • If they affect habitability (excessive noise, humidity, etc.), you will have up to three years to claim and your insurance will cover up to 30% of its cost.
  • If the hidden defects of the house are related to finishes (installations, coatings, etc.), you will only have one year to claim, and your insurance will only cover 5% of the repair.

Buying a second-hand home has advantages and can be a great investment opportunity. However, they can also cause a headache if problems such as hidden vices arise. Our advice? Always bet on trusted professionals like the ones you will find in our team. We guarantee the best advice for the purchase of your house. Ask us!

 

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