Being sued for not disclosing Rotten Boards under the roof

15 Replies

I flipped a property over three years ago. I had hired a contractor to install a new roof before the sale. The roof was inspected and passed by a windstorm engineer.  Yesterday I received a letter from the buyer's attorney, threatening to sue me because the buyer supposedly started getting roof leaks at different locations of the house one year after purchase. According to the lawyer his client had someone look at the roof and they told him there were rotten boards under the flat roof. Supposedly the buyer contacted the roofer who installed the roof and asked him if he was aware of rotten boards. The contractor told him that he knew about the rotten boards and had informed me about them. But he said that I told him to install flat roof over the damaged boards anyway because it was cheaper. so the buyer is claiming that I knowingly did not disclose the rotten wooden boards. Therefore he is demanding $33000 for damages.  I was never informed by the roofer about any rotten boards and I was never aware of any rotten boards. I reached out to the roofer for explanation and he speaks very little English but says he never told the buyer any such thing. I am wondering does the buyer have a case against me after three years for non disclosure of something that I wasn't even aware of? What are my options if I get sued? 

How did you communicate with the roofer via phone?  Text?   In person?

Call the roofer.   Offer him $200 for his time to go with you to an Atty    Get something in writing from him 

Go with the roofer to an Atty 

Have the roofer give the Atty a sworn statement that he never told you their were rotten boards.  

Ask the Atty what to do 


if he doesn’t say I would Send the sworn statement to The other Atty 

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@Rashid Ghafoor only you know the truth. If you did know about rotten boards and told the roofer to ignore the issue, then failed to disclose, it could be an issue for sure. Part of this comes down to disclosure laws and what you actually told the buyer at the time of the sale. In my experience, roofers generally inform you about rotten boards and most encourage you to replace the boards at your cost. It is possible the roofer is just trying to cover their a$$ by pushing responsibility to you. Look back at your paperwork, emails and texts to make sure there is nothing in writing that talks about the boards. Minus anything in writing, it is basically your word against theirs. Assuming you are telling the truth, they probably don't have much of a case. 

Originally posted by @Rashid Ghafoor :

The roofer never mentioned anything about rotten boards either orally or in any form of writing. I double checked all of my emails and text messages. 

 I would ignore the letter, especially if it wasn't sent certified mail. Say nothing directly to them. Any communications should come through your attorney. It sounds like they don't have a case, but that is a lot of money, so don't say squat unless your attorney tells you to.

I've replaced a few flat roofs. Are you saying its possible that the roofer stripped off the old bitumen/tar roof and found rotten sheathing but instead of replacing it they just laid down new felt over it and torched it down?

I can't imagine a legitimate roofer doing this without alerting someone to the condition of the OSB or plywood underneath just to cover their butts.

I guess the real question is was this a licensed roofer or you know....... just a guy?

That might be the real underlying issue. 

Also to echo what everyone else is saying without some kind of signed affidavit from the roofer that he told you about the damaged sheathing (which I can't imagine the buyer being able to get a hold of) I think the buyer will have an uphill battle as the burden of proof lies with them and not you.

@Rashid Ghafoor

Do NOT RESPOND IF POSSIBLE!

3 years seems to be a long time. I know in GA the statue of limitations was 2 years. If you are out of the time line I don’t believe there is anything they can do.

But

If they serve you with legal papers , then $ and consult with an attorney before replying.

That’s what I would do

Affidavits are generally not admissible in court as they are considered hearsay.  Furthermore, an affidavit cannot be cross examined.  The roofer would need to testify under oath in court.

It's also considered a big no-no to offer compensation in return for an affidavit.  Affidavits should be freely given.  There shouldn't be any quid pro quo involved.

If a demand letter was sent, it's time to contact your attorney.  Based on your OP that's what it sounds like it was.

Good luck.

Let them sue you, then defend yourself in court. Honestly people are way more scared of getting sued than they should be. Realistically they are unlikely to sue you. It will cost them money, they probably wont win.....and theres no way that roof is $33k unless its a mammoth house. 

@Rashid Ghafoor If he started getting leaks a year after purchase and the purchase was 3 years ago, could his delay in attending to the problem cause a small section of overlooked rot become the huge problem he now wants you to pay for?

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Originally posted by @Russell Brazil :

Let them sue you, then defend yourself in court. Honestly people are way more scared of getting sued than they should be. Realistically they are unlikely to sue you. It will cost them money, they probably wont win.....and theres no way that roof is $33k unless its a mammoth house. 

 I'd guess that the $33k includes redoing drywall and ceilings that got wet, painting the whole house to match the new paint  as well as damage to belongings.  All which should be covered by their insurance, so technically part of that would go to their insurance co.

Wonder if he got a permit and used a licensed roofer and if a licensed roofer or a permit was required in that area.  That could add to liability.