Disputes relating to hidden defects in immovable property seem to be among the most frequent in practice. A hidden defect refers to a defect in the property that cannot be detected simply by inspection. An example of a hidden defect is mould under the wallpaper, as it is not possible to see through the wallpaper simply by looking at the wall. A hidden defect is also considered to be a defect that requires some kind of specialised knowledge (e.g. in construction or real estate) to detect. For example, case-law has considered as a hidden defect an unserviceable stove that the buyer had inspected before buying the apartment. This is because, without any specialised knowledge, it is not possible to know from looking at the stove that it is in a state of disrepair. It is worth noting that the buyer is never obliged to look for defects in the property himself or to ask an expert for an opinion. Therefore, any defects that subsequently become apparent are, as a general rule, always the seller's responsibility. Within two years of the sale of the property, the seller is presumed to be liable for the defect. Therefore, it is always in the seller's interest to make clear in the contract any possible defects in the property.
In practice, the resolution of disputes arising from hidden defects can be difficult. The interests of the seller and the buyer in a situation of latent defects are conflicting. Cooperation between the seller and the buyer will always be decisive in finding a solution. For example, it sometimes happens that the seller does not want to hear anything more about the sold property and informs the buyer that it is the buyer's problem to remedy the defects. In this case, reaching an agreement with the seller is understandably more difficult. In other cases, the seller and the buyer may disagree as to what exactly falls under the hidden defect. In any event, we can help to find a (possibly out-of-court) solution in such situations. The involvement of a professional representative alone can lead to a significant speeding up of the negotiation process.
Of course, we also deal with other common property disputes, such as the termination of co-ownership or claims for breach of ownership (e.g. where a neighbour frequently parks in the wrong parking space). Our lawyers have considerable and varied experience in all types of property disputes. We can certainly help you in any dispute. Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss the details.