As soon as a hidden defect is discovered, it is essential to document the thing to the best of its ability: take photos and put together a file! If it is a plumbing defect, for example, seek the advice of a plumbing professional. Ask him to describe and write down the flaws he finds. When you send a notice to the seller, you can append his analysis to explain your request.
Following the discovery of a hidden defect, it is essential to send a notice to the seller as quickly as possible explaining the discovery and the nature of the defect. This notice must give the seller a reasonable period of time so that he can come and find the existence of the defect, assess the damage and thus allow him to rectify the situation himself.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the notice sent to the seller gives him the chance to rectify the situation and correct the defect. Take advantage of his visit to agree with him on the means to correct the situation. For example, if he recognizes the defect but does not have the means to remedy it immediately, you can for example offer to pay for him for a repayment spread over time. Put everything in writing and sign. It is a contract and its existence will serve as proof in the event that it does not fulfill its obligations.
Following this notice, if the seller still refuses to cooperate or rejects the existence of the defect, it will then be advisable to send him a formal notice , prior to legal proceedings.
It is strongly recommended to wait for the delay left to the seller in the notice before undertaking any repair work whatsoever, unless these are urgent. The seller will be able to observe the defect before it is repaired and take charge of the repairs if he sees fit.
Unlike building insurance, which generally only compensates for damage and not the cause, a claim for hidden defects will only result in reimbursement of the defect itself, and not of the damage it may have caused. For example, repairs to cracks in a foundation can be claimed, but not damage caused by water infiltration caused by these cracks.
In the case of a hidden defect, the formal notice must clearly describe what is blamed on the seller, the damage resulting from this defect and what is required of him so that he remedies the situation . In order to properly establish this damage, it is strongly recommended to call on an expert in the field concerned. This expertise will go a long way in establishing a value for the harm suffered and will support you throughout the legal process if necessary. If the prescribed plumbing work requires relocation of the existing load-bearing joists, then call a structural engineer. These works arising from the hidden defect, the related costs will also be part of the damage.
Following the sending of the formal notice and in the event that the seller does not act on it within the time allowed, you can then make a legal claim to the court. In Quebec, for damages below $ 15,000, you will have to appeal to the Small Claims Court. Beyond $ 15,000, an appeal must be made to the Court of Quebec or the Superior Court. The amounts accepted at the Small Claims Court vary from province to province.
[* This article generally explains the law in force in Quebec and does not constitute an opinion or a legal opinion. To find out the rules specific to your situation, write to us and we will refer you to a lawyer.]