What are the Florida Home Seller Disclosure Rules?

Selling a home can be a complicated process. Though it might seem like a straightforward marketing proposition, there’s a lot many homeowners simply don’t know. When you’ve decided to sell your property to relocate, up-size, down-size, or just want to move to a different neighborhood, there’s a lot you’ve got to do in-order to get your house ready to show and sell. You’ve probably done a little research and have found some sound advice, such as declutter, depersonalize, clean top-to-bottom and inside-and-out, and to enhance the curb appeal. Those are all wonderful things, but, there’s more to selling a home. One particularly important aspect of selling a residential property is to be compliant with all necessary Florida home seller disclosure rules.

What are the Florida Home Seller Disclosure Rules?

In the Sunshine State, like many others, there is a legal duty to disclose certain facts about a property. These rules largely comes as the result of a 1985 case, Johnson v. Davis, 480 Southern 2nd, 625. Because a home purchase is often the largest asset a buyer will have in his or her lifetime, it’s important to provide various protections. This is a slight departure from the legal concept of “caveat emptor,” or “buyer beware.” In many small purchases, there are little to no consumer protections, but, a residential property is altogether different.

Florida, like many other states, now requires sellers of homes and other residential properties to make certain disclosures to buyers about the property’s condition and history. However, in an ever-increasing number of states, courts and lawmakers have held that sellers are in the best position to know all material facts relating to their properties, especially those that are not visible to the naked eye, and should disclose these to the buyer – or face legal liability. —Nolo.com

When you sell a home you might opt for a pre-listing inspection, or, the buyer will schedule a home inspection. A licensed home inspector will examine the property to look for what’s known as “material defects.” These are defects which present a safety and/or health issue, and/or, have a negative impact on the value of a home. Should a seller attempt to conceal such issues or defects, it could very well lead to a whole lot of legal trouble. Fortunately, Florida home seller disclosure rules aren’t complicated and are easy to follow:

  • System issues. If there’s a small leak in the plumbing or a problem with the central heat and air unit you know about, these must be disclosed by the seller. Examples of major systems include plumbing and electrical wiring.
  • Structural problems. Component of the home, such as the roof and foundation, will also be inspected and any known issues with components must be disclosed by a home seller in the state of Florida.
  • Health and safety issues. These are probably the most obvious issues and anything know about, such as lead paint, asbestos, or other health and safety concerns require full seller disclosure to comply with the law.
  • Other defects and issues. In addition to the systems, components, health and safety, there are other disclosure requirements. Your selling agent will provide you with a comprehensive list and can advise you on what is or is not required to disclose.

If you take a moment to review the above disclosure rules, you’ll see one consistent factor in all of them — the issues or defects must be known to the seller. Under Florida law, if a seller does not know about a material defect or other issues with the property, he or she won’t be held liable if these are discovered in the future. In addition, there’s no duty to disclose, what “should have been known.”