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Can home inspectors be sued when they fail to discover defects?

On Behalf of | Jul 5, 2023 | Real Estate Contract Disputes

Florida homebuyers usually have the properties they plan to purchase inspected. Home inspectors look for major problems like subsidence, termite infestations or cracked foundations, and they can be sued when they fail to discover them. When homebuyers take legal action against home inspectors, their lawsuits are usually based on breach of contract or negligence.

Suing a home inspector for breach of contract

The contracts homebuyers enter into with home inspectors, which are also called pre-inspection agreements, detail what kind of work will be performed and describe the kind of problems or defects that inspectors will look for. A homebuyer may become embroiled in a real estate contract dispute with a home inspection company if they suffer injury, loss or damage because the terms of a pre-inspection agreement are breached, but this kind of lawsuit is fairly rare. This is because pre-inspection agreements are supplied by home inspectors or home inspection services, and they usually include exculpatory clauses to protect them from liability. This is why most lawsuits filed by homebuyers against home inspectors are based on the civil tort of negligence.

Suing a home inspector for negligence

Homebuyers sue home inspectors for negligence when they fail to find defects or problems that a competent professional would reasonably be expected to discover. To prove negligence in a lawsuit filed against a home inspector, a homebuyer may have to find another credentialed professional who is willing to identify the mistakes that were made. This is not always easy.

Checking references and reading fine print

Homebuyers may be able to avoid expensive mistakes and protracted litigation by checking references before they hire home inspectors and reading pre-inspection agreements carefully. They should be particularly wary when pre-inspection agreements include exculpatory clauses that only require inspectors to refund their fees when they fail to discover serious defects.