Seller disclosure obligations in Florida are required by law and will help you, the seller, from facing legal liability and your sale collapsing.
Sellers are required to do this so that buyers don’t purchase property that has hidden surprises. Sellers know the property best, especially problems that may not be obvious at first glances – such as structural defects and hidden damage.
What is a Seller Legally Obliged to Reveal in Florida?
Seller disclosure obligations in Florida require that the seller must disclose any facts or information that may impact its value or desirability, that others cannot easily see and the seller is aware of. These include, but are not limited to:
- Is the property’s structure sound and free from damage, weaknesses or leaks?
- Are any appliances or features (such as air conditioning) that are working incorrectly?
- Are there any termites, pests or fungi present, or has the property been damaged by them?
- Has the property been treated for termites, fungi, or pests?
- Has there been water damage or flooding?
- Have past or present drainage or flooding caused problems?
- Is the property in a flood hazard area?
- Is the property located in the seaward of the coastal construction control line?
- Does the lender require flood insurance?
- Is the drinking water source private?
- Have you ever had problems with water?
- Are there any known plumbing issues?
- Has there been any plumbing leaks since you owned the real property?
- Is the roof structurally sound and free of leaks?
- Has the roof ever leaked during your ownership?
- Has there been any work undertaken on the roof?
- Are you aware of any defects to the roof and its components?
- Are there any known electricity issues?
- Are there any loose or damaged wiring or electricity outlets?
- Are there any known sinkholes or soil movements?
- Are there any known guttering or drainage issues?
- Are there any known tree issues or risks?
- Are there any other known external problems, risks or damage?
Homeowners’ Association Restrictions; Boundaries; Access Roads
- Are there any mandatory homeowner’s association memberships, conditions, covenants or restrictions?
- Are there any proposed changes to these restrictions?
- Are there any boundaries, driveways, walls, fences or gates shared with adjoining owners?
- Are there any encroachments on the property, or encroachments by the property onto other lands?
- Are there any boundary line disputes or easements?
- Are you aware of any existing, pending or proposed legal actions related to the property?
- Are access roads private or public?
- Was the property built before 1978?
- If yes, disclose all lead-based paint information.
- Provide an EPA-approved pamphlet addressing lead-based paint hazards.
- Are there any known environmental hazards, such as lead-based paint, asbestos, mold, radon gas, methamphetamine contamination, defective drywall, propane, fuel, chemicals, or contaminated soils or water?
- Has there been any damage, repair or clean-up related to the above?
- Are there any archeological sites, environmentally protected areas or mangroves on the property\
Governmental, Litigation and Claims
- Are there any existing, pending or proposed legal or administrative claims?
- Are there any known existing or proposed assessments affecting the property?
- Do you know of any previous or current litigation or claims related to the property or its title?
- Are there any zoning violations?
- Are there any zoning restrictions affecting improvements or extensions?
- Are there any issues related to improvements or proposed improvements?
What is a Seller Disclosure Form in Florida?
A seller disclosure form is a form that you complete to answer the above questions, and more, so that the potential buyer knows all the facts that may affect the value of the property. It also helps the seller comply with the law.
Is a Seller’s Disclosure Form Required in Florida?
Florida law does not require that a seller disclosure form is completed, but it does require that you disclose known defects and problems with the property to the buyer. This is required whether or not the buyer inquires about problems or defects.
Florida law allows you to make a large number of disclosures verbally or in writing.
However, using a seller disclosure form is often seen as common sense. It is the easiest and safest way to ensure you cover every seller disclosure obligation in Florida. If you make them verbally, you may have trouble later trying to prove that you made the disclosures.
Buyers still have the responsibility to have the property inspected, to ensure that they don’t miss any defects that the seller was unaware of themselves.
Are There Seller Disclosure Obligations for ‘As-Is’ Sales in Florida?
Real estate transactions involving ‘as-is’ listings still require that you meet seller disclosure obligations.
As-is sales just mean the real property will be sold in its current condition. The seller is not required to make repairs or improvements. But the buyer should still be informed of the known defects.
What Happens If I Don’t Know Every Defect?
Fear not, Florida courts generally protect home sellers from being sued for every single minute detail of their property’s condition.
Normally, the property has some latent defects and Florida courts have a precedent for protecting sellers if they had no actual knowledge of property defects.
For example, in Jensen v. Bailey, 76 So.3d 980 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2011), the sellers stated in their seller disclosure form that there were no additions or alterations that violated building codes.
But later, the buyers discovered that the alterations did in fact breach building codes – so they sued the sellers. However, the court protected the sellers, stating that the sellers had no idea about the violations as they had placed trust in their contractors for code compliance.
Put simply, the buyer must prove that the seller knew of the defect. Which is why it’s so important to disclose obvious issues.
What Facts Does a Seller Not Need to Disclose in Florida?
Some residential property conditions are not required to be disclosed. Florida Statutes § 689.25 states that you don’t need to disclose if:
- Someone with HIV or AIDS lived on the property
- A murder, suicide or death occurred or is suspected to have occurred on the property.
If the prospective buyer asks about private information that you fear may affect the sale, you can say ‘I’m not legally obliged to reveal that’, or ‘that’s private information’ or remain silent. Alternatively, you can of course be honest.
Don’t lie. Misleading or false information can result in the buyer suing you for misrepresentation.
Contact Our Florida Real Estate Lawyers
If you’re selling residential real estate in Florida, then our Florida real estate lawyers can help.
We have vast experience in helping Florida residents and businesses navigate the complexities of title searches, seller disclosure laws, real estate contracts and more. We can provide you with a seller disclosure obligation form and guide you through the process, ensuring you are free from liability risks.
Our St Petersburg and Riverview real estate attorneys at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. will review your circumstances and ensure your transaction goes smoothly.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.