Legal Hotline Spotlight

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Q:  I’m representing a seller who only recently inherited the property from his now-deceased mother. My client told me his mother used to complain of the electrical outlets in the upstairs bedrooms not working properly and being “faulty.” Since taking possession of the property, my client has not noticed any such problems with the electrical outlets; he says they seem to work fine. Do I need to disclose the possibility of faulty electrical outlets?

A:  In general, erring on the side of disclosure is safest. However, in this case, without more information or evidence of malfunctioning electrical outlets, there is likely no duty to disclose. The Virginia Code says that licensees must disclose “all material adverse facts pertaining to the physical condition of the property which are actually known by the licensee.”

In this case, faulty electrical outlets would be a material adverse fact pertaining to the physical condition of the property, but it is not actually known to the licensee or seller whether such a defect is present. It is possible there was never actually anything wrong with the outlets. It is also possible the mother had the electrical outlets repaired at some point without her son’s knowledge. Without actual knowledge of a material adverse fact pertaining to the physical condition of the property, there is not a duty to disclose.

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