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Canadian Real Estate/some pertinent information not disclosed by seller - do we have any recourse?

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Question
We purchased our first home from an admittedly new agent. Not having bought a house before we weren't completely sure of all of the questions we should be asking.

When we had our scheduled visits to meet with the sellers, they managed to cancel them at the last minute, citing family emergencies or unexpected matters that had popped up. Our agent assured us it wasn't anything to be concerned about, and we ended up buying the house without ever meeting the owners. We had been told that there had been a couple of other offers on the home but that they had fallen through. We never thought to ask why they'd fallen through, we were just happy they had. After all, with it's proximity to schools and being on a quiet street, it seemed to be the perfect place for us to raise our family.

On the day we moved in we learned that the house immediately next door to us was a group home for troubled youth.

We have had numerous problems with the home since we moved in, from simple things like them dumping cigarette butts and garbage into our yard to noisy outbreaks and the breaking our common fence. There have been numerous times when the police have been called (by their own management) to settle disputes. Perhaps at the top of the list of complaints: one of the tenants intentionally set their place on fire.

We have been dealing with the company that runs the home, and have made numerous complaints to police and even our city council.

My question is: did I have any recourse against the previous owners for failure to disclose this information? or against the realtor for not discovering it for us? and if so, is there a statute of limitations? We have been living here now for a number of years.

Answer
Hi There, was the agent you bought the house from, the same agent that was listing the house?  That agent is always working in the best interest of the sellers so if this is the case that is sometimes problematic.  

As for visits they need to be written into the contract and there is better wording to use than others but again depending on who your agent was it would maybe not be in your favour.  There is no obligation for visits unless they are in the contract.  

The bottom line is that a seller/Realtor is required to disclose any latent defect with a home or stigma that could cause the value to be affected.  If the defect is easy to see and detect there is no need generally to declare it.  I would consider a home for troubled youth to be a stigma but I think the argument could be made that it may have been easy to see that next door was a home for troubled youth.  

Perhaps there is no signage and it is hard to see, then one might feel it should have been disclosed.  But this is a fight for the lawyers and after so long it may be hard to get some recourse....

You would have to talk to your lawyer if it is worth trying to get something going or perhaps you can contact a by-law officer to enforce some rules.  To be honest it may just be time to move.  Make sure you get your own agent and don't use the listing agent!  

Canadian Real Estate

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David Sussman

Expertise

Residential Real Estate Questions in Ontario such as financing possibilities, clauses, how to choose the right agent, buying/selling your home/condo and anything else that relates to real estate trading such as what my home is worth or tips and hints for how to protect yourself as a buyer or seller.

Experience

Residential Real Estate Agent in the City of Toronto for Royal LePage, Signature Realty.

Organizations
Toronto Real Estate Board Canadian Real Estate Association Royal LePage Signature Realty

Education/Credentials
Carleton University, B.A. and Business Management from U of T

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