1 year soon after a buyer moves into a home, which was a new home when the seller purchased the residence three years earlier, there is significant roof leaking due to heavy rains. A roofing contractor says that the price to repair the roof will be ,000. The roofing contractor also says that there is substantial prior roof damage and that, because of stains on the ceiling and walls of the master bedroom, the seller and probably the genuine estate brokers knew that there were roof difficulties when the buyer bought the property. The buyer is incredibly upset simply because no one disclosed these roof problems. According to Arizona actual estate law, right after one year, had the time expired for the buyer to make a claim for the ,000 repair costs against the seller? Against the real estate brokers? Against the homebuilder? Can the buyer be reimbursed for attorneys fees?
Statute of limitations
The statute of limitations for breach of a written contract is typically six years from the date that the breach of the written contract was discovered. A.R.S. §12-548. This six-year statute also applies to claims by both the original buyer and subsequent buyers against homebuilders for breach of the contractual implied warranty of appropriate construction, but this claim is restricted to no much more than eight years right after completion of the home, no matter when the construction defect was discovered. A.R.S. §12-552. The statute of limitations for fraud is normally three years from when the fraud was discovered. A.R.S. §12-543. Similarly, the statute of limitations for negligence is generally two years from when the negligence was discovered. A.R.S. §12-542.
A effective plaintiff is generally entitled to attorneys fees in breach of contract and in fraud claims. In negligence claims, however, no attorneys fees are awarded to a profitable plaintiff.
Liability of Homebuilder
The homebuilder may possibly be liable to the buyer for breach of the contractual implied warranty if there was improper construction of the roof. The buyer would have four much more years under the eight-year limitation to file a claim against the homebuilder since the residence was built 4 years ago. The buyer really should be entitled to reasonable attorneys fees under A.R.S. §12-341.01.
Liability of Seller
Under the Arizona Association of REALTORS® regular buy contract the seller has a contractual duty to disclose to the buyer identified defects in the house such as a defective roof. If the seller knew of the defective roof, the buyer would have six years right after discovery of the defective roof to file a claim for breach of written contract against the seller. Not only does a breach of written contract claim have a fairly long six-year statute of limitations, a buyer is entitled to attorneys fees under A.R.S. §12-341.01. Finally, the buyer would only have 3 years to file a fraud claim against the seller, but need to be entitled to attorneys fees for prosecuting this fraud claim. If the seller was only negligent in failing to disclose the roof, i.e., the seller ought to have identified that the roof was defective, the seller has no liability.
Liability of Genuine Estate Brokers
In regard to a buyer’s claims against the actual estate brokers, the real estate brokers had been not parties to the acquire contract. For that reason, there is no breach of contract claim and the buyer would only have 3 years to prosecute a claim against the brokers for any fraudulent non-disclosure, and only two years to prosecute a claim for any negligent non-disclosure, i.e., the brokers need to have recognized of the defective roof. If the actual estate brokers knew of, and fraudulently failed to disclose the defective roof, the buyer is probably entitled to attorneys fees. If the real estate brokers were only negligent, i.e., should have identified of the defective roof, the buyer is not entitled to attorneys fees.