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Real Estate - Home Additions & Warranty Of Habitability

Home Additions Now Covered by Implied Warranty

If you have purchased a home with a significant addition and you discover defects in the addition, you may sue the contractor or person who constructed the addition. The Illinois Supreme Court recently extended the "Implied Warranty of Habitability" to subsequent additions to an existing residence. This means that a homeowner, as well as a subsequent buyer of a home, can sue the person responsible for building the significant addition for damages for any defects in the addition. (The court did not define the term "significant addition.")

The courts created the implied warranty of habitability to balance the well-known doctrine of "caveat emptor," or "buyer beware." In Illinois, this warranty was originally created to protect buyers of new homes who did not have the opportunity to discover hidden defects in the home until after the purchase. The warranty was later extended to new homes built on old foundations, homes manufactured by one company but built on the homeowner's land by another company, and condominium developers and sellers. Also, an action for breach of the implied warranty of habitability may be brought against a subcontractor when the buyer has no recourse against the builder/ vendor.

The Illinois Supreme Court decided to extend the implied warranty to major additions because, like owners of newly constructed homes, homeowners who contract for a major structural addition have little knowledge of the construction. Further, they are not in a position to discover hidden defects in a structure even though they may use reasonable care in an attempt to find such defects.

The court also determined that purchasers of homes with previously constructed significant additions are entitled to sue. However, the court noted that any action taken against the builder must be within 10 years of the date of construction of the addition.

Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Required

As the seller or lessor of a residential dwelling, you are required to disclose any lead-based paint defects known to you. Under the recent amendments of the Federal Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, sellers, lessors, and their agents must also disclose all documentation concerning the presence of lead paint to buyers and lessees so that they can have the home tested for lead contamination if necessary. The buyer or lessee may void the residential real estate contract or lease based upon the seller's or lessor's failure to correct any lead contamination which is discovered.

Usually, the buyer will be required to pay the cost of the inspection while the seller must pay for removing the contamination, unless the parties agree otherwise. A buyer is given 10 days to inspect the premises for lead paint hazards before being bound by the contract. A lessee is entitled to have the disclosure attached to the initial lease agreement or included in the lease. In order to comply with the law, sellers, brokers, agents, and landlords must supply a buyer or lessee with the requisite information pamphlet and an appropriate "lead warning statement" in addition to including a contingency provision in the real estate contract or lease.

The information pamphlets entitled "Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home" may be obtained by calling the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-LEAD-FYI or the Government Printing Office at (202) 512-1800. Distributing photocopies of the pamphlet is acceptable.

If you fail to comply with this law, you are subject to civil penalties in the amount of three times the damages incurred by the buyer or lessee, plus attorney's fees, expert witness fees, and costs. You may also face a criminal penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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