In the home-selling process, the sellers need to complete a disclosure statement before the sale contract is done. Generally, any “material defects” that could affect the buyer’s decision to buy the property. The disclosure is intended to notify the buyer of any known property issues, and must not claim as warranty. If you really want to make sure about the defects, you can freely do so through hiring your own home inspector.
Whether it’s your own house, a unit, or a land property in Tennesse, the law broadly requires the seller to inform the future owner about property defects to prevent legal encumbrances before the closing.
If you are selling a property in Tennessee, here are all the seller disclosure requirements you need to know:
- Federal Disclosure of Information on Lead-Based Paint and/or Lead-Based Paint Hazards
- Tennessee Residential Property Condition Disclosure
Did you know Houzeo’s Gold Plan provides relevant Federal and State Seller Disclosures?
Federal Disclosure of Information on Lead-Based Paint and/or Lead-Based Paint Hazards
The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act passed in 1992 requires the disclosure of any lead-based paint or chipped paint in any housing built before 1978.
It’s highly required for the seller of any residential real property to provide the buyer with any information on lead-based paint hazards prior to the purchase. Under federal law, the owner should comply with the lead-based paint disclosure. Since it’s the seller’s obligation to disclose or notify any actual information he has about the presence of any lead-based paint or chipped paint in the property that may risk health-related concerns, such as lead poisoning.
The seller may offer a 10-day period for the buyer to complete a paint inspection or risk assessment for lead-based paint or lead-based hazards. You can get a lead hazard inspection firm through here.
Tennessee Residential Property Condition Disclosure
As stated in Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-5-201 et seq., home sellers are required to disclose certain conditions or defects to the buyer. The Residential Property Condition Disclosure Form specifically asks sellers to answer a series of questions regarding the condition of certain aspects of the property. Sellers who failed to comply with the said obligations can receive severe consequences.
Under Tennessee law, owners must provide a list of certain material defects that exist prior to the sale agreement. As stated in Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-5-201 et seq., home sellers are required to disclose any known defects to the buyer. The Tennessee Residential Property Condition Disclosure asks owners to disclose information–malfunctions of structural or mechanical components–and answers a series of questions regarding the property’s condition. Sellers who fail to disclose this information could result to loss of sale or severe legal action consequences.
The Sellers Property Disclosure Statement identifies any known information that would affect the buyer’s decision if they knew about it. Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-5-202 also requires that the form includes a notice to buyers that they may wish to ask for professional advice and inspection of the house.
It must be acknowledged that a seller is not required to disclose property defects of which he/she is not fully aware. The seller is also not obliged to get an inspection or independent investigation prior to completing the document form.
Here is the following information that a seller should disclose as part of Tennessee’s Seller Disclosure requirements.
Environmental Hazards. These are health-related issues or potentially hazardous environmental concerns that may affect a person’s physical, mental, and social well-being. As mentioned in the form, you must notify the buyer with the “presence of any known exterior well”, “percolation test or soil absorption rate performed on the property”, or any existing groundwater erosion causing a surface subsidence of soil, sediment, or rock.” And issues such as radon gas, lead-based paint, asbestos, contaminated soil or water, etc.
Sinkholes. Any previous or current sinkholes on the property must be thoroughly disclosed and discussed before signing any contract.
Road Changes, Drainage, or Utility Issues. These are property problems that could affect the property, and bother the homeowner in the near future (flooding, grading problems).
Property or Structural Damage. Present or past damages that were/are caused by fire, earthquake, floods, landslides, tremors, winds, storm, or wood destroying organisms.
Insect or Pest Infestations. One of the most expensive issue to remedy that’s also important to this list. This is considered a major defect that can cause wood rot or moisture that may affect the home’s present value.
Essential Property Components. These are considered major defects that could affect the property’s condition. This covers the ceiling, cracks in the foundation, electrical wiring, plumbing, and as well as the HVAC system.
Property Boundary Dispute. It’s imperative that the sellers should also divulge information on the property deed and survey (encroachments, easements, and other ownership interest issues).
Legal Claims Against Your Property. There’s also a need to disclose (either pending or current) legal claim that could affect your transaction of the property
Homeowners Associations. Also, sellers should never forget to disclose the Homeowners Association (HOA) documents as part of the home sale since it’s the buyer’s right to review the CCRs (Covenants, Codes, and Restrictions) before closing the deal.
Percolation Tests or Soil Absorption Rates. The owner should inform the buyer of any percolation tests that are accepted by the Tenessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
Planned Unit Development. The seller should notify the buyer if the property is in a Planned Unit Development. According to the Tenn Code Ann § 66-5-213, it’s a property considered as “an area of land. controlled by one (1) or more landowners, to be developed under unified control or unified plan of development for a number of dwelling units, commercial, educational, recreational or industrial uses, or any combination of the foregoing, the plan for which does not correspond in lot size, bulk or type of use, density, lot coverage, open space, or other restrictions to existing land use regulations.”
The disclosure form contains a series of questions that you are required to check “Yes” or “No”—and you should be certain with the response. However, you can also check “Unknown” if you truly are unaware of the defect mentioned.
However, there are certain topics and issues the owner need not to disclose since they are not required by the law. Specific information like homicide and suicide. Or about prior residents that were “afflicted with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or other diseases which has been determined by medical evidence to be highly unlikely to be transmitted through the occupancy of a dwelling place.” All of these issues are acknowledged as non-relevant and could be left untold.
Also, sellers don’t need to perform inspections or research on the property. According to Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-5-201, a seller “shall not be required to undertake or provide any independent investigation or inspection of the property in order to make the disclosures.”
What if the seller fails to disclose any of this information to the buyer?
Although we’ve established the importance of disclosure for purchase and sale agreement, there’s a possibility that the seller may not know that a defect exists. Actually, there’s nothing to worry about. The Tennessee law only requires that the seller should have actual knowledge of any known defect. The homeowner doesn’t have the obligation to pinpoint defects by providing home inspections.
However, if the owner knows that the defect exists, this could result in legal action—and would possibly negate the contract. This means that the seller should be held responsible for the actual damages sustained, and to the termination of the purchase and sale contract. But before a lawsuit may begin, it’s obligatory to most disputes be mediated if either the failure to disclose was deliberate or unintentional. Nevertheless, it’s advisable to hire a professional Tennessee real estate lawyer to help you learn more about your rights as a seller.
Did you know Houzeo’s Gold Plan provides relevant Federal and State Seller Disclosures?
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