The purchase and sale of a home represents a significant transaction. For most people, it will be the largest purchase or sale of their entire lives. The last thing you want is to run into legal problems after the property is transferred and one of the quickest ways to trigger litigation is by failing to follow Ohio’s disclosure laws.
To whom does the law apply?
Ohio Code Section 5302.30 sets for the basic disclosure requirements for the sale of residential property. It does not apply to commercial property, which is governed separately. It also does not apply to every transfer of residential property – there are some exceptions, such as a new home which has not yet been lived in or the transfer from one spouse to another following a divorce decree. Instead, the requirements are meant for traditional sales of residential homes.
What are the requirements?
Ohio law mandates a written disclosure by the seller and outlines the form such a disclosure must take. The disclosure must include all matters material to the physical condition of the property, including information about the water supply and sewage system, condition of the structure’s foundation, roof, floors and walls and the presence of any hazardous materials such as asbestos. Anything which materially affects the property must be disclosed, even if it is not mentioned in the statute.
It’s important for buyer’s to understand that the disclosure, even when done according to the law, is not a replacement for their own inspection. The seller is only required to disclose those conditions of which they are aware. Unless the seller commits some sort of fraud or misrepresentation, it’s unlikely they will be held liable for failing to disclose a defect which could have reasonably been discovered upon an inspection by the purchaser.