Lawsuit against seller?

6 Replies

I closed on my first 4 unit back in January. At closing, the sellers provided me with a 1 yr leak warranty, which I had requested after our inspection. Needless to say, found a few leaks that needed to be repaired. I thought this would be a relatively smooth process as the sellers are a realtor/investor/contractor team in the Chicago area. I requested immediate action and the sellers, although initially responsive, stopped responding when it came time to any sort of action. The same thing happened when my closing attorney contacted their attorney. Fast forward, I needed to get the repairs done as it was creating more issues so we got it repaired. I gave the sellers a final opportunity to pay for the repairs, and they are now claiming that they did come out to perform the repairs, which is absolutely false. My closing attorney doesn't do litigation and the litigation attorneys I've reached out to haven't shown much interest, presumably because it's only a couple $k worth of repairs. At this point, I'm thinking of taking this to per se small claims court. As a newbie investor, a couple $k makes a big difference, as I could use this for other repairs around the house.

This seems like such a weird scenario. I feel like I have everything pretty well documented, but as its new for me, I'm looking for any and all advice in navigating this route. Thanks!

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Getting a seller who has "taken the money and bolted" to do anything is like pushing a barge.  Just the same, shame on them.  Here's what I recommend:  

1.  Send an invoice for payment within 10 days.  Send it by email/regular mail and by certified mail/proof of delivery.

2.  File a Better Business Complaint against them if they did business with you in a business entity name.  That process requires them to respond or take quite a hit to their online reputation/rating.  

3.  File the Small Claims Filing against them. 

What they're counting on is that you'll just go away.  What you want to assure them is you're not.  If you have not made a written demand for payment, the court will more than likely not award your claim.  Be sure you have a clear understanding of what the warranty states in the contract versus what you were told.  If it was for the seller to pay for any leak repairs, rock on.  If it was for the seller to make the repairs, did the warranty specify when?  Make sure you document all the calls for service and request for payment.  

Fingers crossed for you.

I shy away from any "the seller will do after closing" agreements of any kind. As you see they are difficult to execute. If the inspection shows faults, reduce the offering price so you can correct it. If the seller is to "fix" anything, spell it how the repair will be done. I've had some really wonky things done as repairs pre closing and realized what I thought was a reasonable repair was creatively circumvented by a cheap seller. It's hard to walk away from the table at preclose inspection.

@Patricia Steiner laid out a good process for you. Most contractors don't like to take the time but make sure your invoices are more specific than "fixed leak". Stating "replaced faulty flashing around chimney" or etc would have more bite in small claims court. Good luck and I hope you prevail!

I’d go the small claims court direction. Should be inexpensive and not take a whole lot of your time. Worst case is you end up where you are right now - best case is they pay you to make you go away.