Q: We are renting a single-family home that we thought we might want to buy. When we signed the lease two years ago, we paid the landlord several thousand dollars for an option to purchase the home at a commercially reasonable price. Last month, the landlord put the home on the market, and we jumped at the chance to buy it. But now we’ve learned, through the disclosures, that it has significant structural damage that wasn’t evident all the while we lived here. We’re not going to buy it, but we want to know — can we get that option fee back? Had we known then what we know now, we wouldn’t have paid for the option. –Tom and Mary Z.
A: Residential property sellers and their brokers are subject to numerous inspection and disclosure obligations regarding the physical condition of the property, about everything from the presence of lead paint or asbestos to "natural hazards" of the area (such as being in a special flood zone), the age of the roof, and even the quality of the home’s insulation.