Jensen v. Bailey

76 So.3d 980 (2011)


D entered into a contract with P for the sale and purchase of D's residence. D filled out a property disclosure statement for P's review. D checked no on the box that asked if they were aware 'of any improvements or additions to the property, whether by you or by others, that have been constructed in violation of building codes or without necessary permits?' The sale was closed in July 2005. Two years later, P filed an action for damages alleging breach of contract, nondisclosure of material defects in the residence, and fraudulent concealment. The alleged defect was the sanitary sewer which caused reoccurring backups into the home. The other was unpermitted changes in the home which were discovered to be not in conformity with building codes and would require reconstruction. The evidence showed that D had substantial remodeling work completed and that work required proper permits which were never obtained. The construction did not conform to building codes. The court found the evidence insufficient to support P's claims regarding the sewer system. On the other hand, it was uncontroverted that the remodeling jobs required proper permits, none were obtained, and the work violated code. There was no evidence that D actually knew about the failure to obtain permits or the improper work. The circuit court concluded that D should have known about the absence of permits and reported same in the disclosure statement. P got the verdict and for $33,370 in damages, plus $13,787.31 in prejudgment interest. D and P appealed.