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Whether you’re buying or selling a home, it’s important to understand how both patent and latent defects in Ontario work before any issues can arise.

Prior to selling or buying a home, you should have a good understanding of what latent defects are and who is liable in the event of one, along with how the law addresses this problem. The following is a brief guide to latent defects and what they entail.

What Are Patent Defects?

Patent defects are defects that purchasers can discover with the help of a comprehensive inspection and by asking questions regarding the property. Any defect may be considered patent if it’s discoverable through a professional inspection conducted by a qualified individual.

What Are Latent Defects?

What makes latent defects different from patent defects is that latent defects are unknown to either the buyer or vendor. Vendors often intentionally conceal latent defects to avoid detection when selling the home, but the vendor won’t be held liable if insufficient evidence is available to prove that the vendor was aware of the defect and failed to notify the buyer of its presence.

When Is the Seller Liable for Patent and Latent Defects in Ontario?

The seller may be liable if individuals can prove that the vendor was aware of a defect that the buyer wouldn’t have been able to discover even with a reasonable inspection. Vendors may also be liable if they actively attempted to conceal the defect. For instance, an area rug may be used to cover a damaged section of flooring, which would qualify as misrepresentation that makes the seller liable for these damages.

What Happens When the Home Your Purchase Has a Latent Defect?

Also referred to as the “Buyer Beware” principle, Caveat Emptor is the specific doctrine in which a purchaser takes existing property as it’s found, i.e., buyers assume all risks associated with purchasing a property. Exceptions to this include when vendors are aware of a defect and engage in negligent or fraudulent misrepresentation, fail to disclose a defect when aware of it, breach their duties to make buyers aware of any latent defect that endangers the home’s occupants, or are otherwise ignorant and reckless regarding the correctness of any statements made pertaining to the home’s overall condition.

If you’re looking for an experienced real estate lawyer who will help you with all aspects of buying a home, contact us for more information.

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