Hidden Defects

PSP Légal’s affiliated construction jurists can advise you on the steps to take following the discovery of hidden defects.

Expertise / Construction and Real Estate Hidden Defects

Whether you’re the buyer of a property who has discovered hidden defects, or the seller of a property who has just been informed of the possibility that your former property may be affected by hidden defects, we’re here to help.

While many questions can be answered with the help of the guides, sample letters and forms in our legal toolkit, an independent jurist affiliated with PSP Legal will always be happy to help you by answering any questions you may have.

Of course, if you prefer to have an experienced practitioner take charge of your situation and intervene directly and quickly on your behalf, you can also request that one of the independent jurists affiliated with PSP Legal represent you by clicking here.

 

What are hidden defects?

The notion of latent defects is closely linked to the notion of the warranty of quality, also known as the legal warranty. This guarantee of quality is set out in articles 1726 to 1731 of the Civil Code of Quebec.  The aim of these rules is to ensure that the buyer enjoys the full utility of the goods sold. Consequently, when we invoke the notion of vice, the Civil Code defines it as a defect which renders the good unfit for the use for which it was intended, or which so diminishes its usefulness that the buyer would not have bought it, or would not have paid such a high price for it, if he had known about it.

To be covered by the legal warranty, the latent defect must be :

  1. serious
  2. unknown to the buyer
  3. hidden
  4. prior to the sale
  5. for the purposes of the buyer’s claim for damages, known or presumed to be known to the seller.
  6. brought to the attention of the seller in writing within a reasonable time of its discovery.

For a more exhaustive definition of the legal warranty, visit éducaloi.

 

What the buyer can obtain in the event of hidden defects

The legal warranty generally entitles the buyer of an immovable affected by latent defects to obtain, in particular :

  1. a reduction in the price of the property
  2. reimbursement of the cost of renovations carried out to repair the defect
  3. reimbursement of the cost of expert appraisals to better determine the causes and effects of the defect
  4. compensation for loss of enjoyment of the property due to the defect
  5. in some cases, resolution of the sale to return the property to the seller and obtain reimbursement of the sale price.

If you are the buyer of a property who has recently discovered hidden defects, you must share your discovery with the seller as soon as possible. This is called a notice of hidden defects. This notice must enable the seller to come and observe the alleged hidden defect before proceeding with corrective work. Otherwise, if you carry out the work without first notifying the seller, you run the risk of losing your recourse.

 

Rights and obligations of the seller

First of all, the seller is generally not liable for defects that are apparent. Apparent defects are those that are visible and revealed by a simple examination of the building. These cannot be considered hidden defects, since they would be easily observed by a serious, attentive and prudent buyer.

However, a seller who is aware of the existence of defects affecting his property must disclose them to the potential buyer. In other words, the seller must not lie or fail to disclose the existence of a defect.

Finally, if the seller receives a notice of denunciation from the buyer, the latter must offer the seller a real opportunity to come and observe the alleged defects, so that he can make his own appraisal if necessary. The seller can then propose that the buyer carry out the work at his own expense, or negotiate an amicable settlement. If such a settlement is not possible, the parties can always appeal to the legal system.

 

How we can help

Our legal toolkit includes a variety of online resources and links to templates and guides to help you better understand your obligations.

However, should the Legal Toolkit prove insufficient in your situation, you can obtain additional assistance by speaking with one of PSP Legal’s affiliated jurists:

Of course, if you prefer to have an experienced practitioner handle your situation, you can always request that one of the independent jurists affiliated with PSP Legal intervene on your behalf by clicking here. He or she will then be able to intervene directly and rapidly on your behalf by:

  • Preparing, negotiating and drafting applications, procedures or any other legal documents related to your situation;
  • Assisting and advising you on your legal rights and obligations;
  • Representing you before the courts when legal action is taken;
  • Guiding you through the choices available to you, leading to a fair and satisfactory solution.

 

PSP Legal, because you deserve expert advice!

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