DEAR BARRY: We bought our home seven years ago. Recently, the county building department informed us that the studio apartment in our backyard was built without a permit. Neither the sellers nor our home inspector informed us about this, and we are now forced to spend more than $7,000 in retroactive permits and fines to fix something we did not do and were not made aware of. Is this something that we should be liable for, or should we hire a lawyer? –Ann

DEAR ANN: If the sellers owned the property when the structure was built, they should have disclosed the lack of a building permit. Whether they are still liable after seven years is something you’ll need to find out from an attorney.

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