“Latent Defect” — A defect in material, workmanship and so on. A latent defect poses a liability issue if it can be shown that the seller knew about the problem and did not disclose to the buyer.
Defects can be “patent,” or obvious to both vendor and purchaser, or “latent” — not obvious to either the seller or buyer, if they take reasonable steps to inspect.
~ Bora Laskin
Unless there is evidence to suggest that the vendor had knowledge of a defect and deliberately failed to disclose it, or hid it from the purchaser, the vendor is not liable for the costs of remedial repairs. The vendor could be found liable, however, if the buyer can show that the vendor knew of a defect and that the problem could not have been discovered by the buyer during a reasonable property inspection.
When it comes to real estate, the law still relies on the maxim: “Caveat emptor, qui ignorare non debuit quod jus alienum emit” — Let the purchaser, who is not to be ignorant of the amount and nature of the interest, exercise proper caution.
- Lippa v. Colletta, 2017 ONSC 1122 (CanLII) Lack of evidence sinks pro se latent defect claim. Case summary, by Michael Lesage: “Penny Wise and Pound Foolish”
- 1784773 Ont. Inc. v K-W Labour Association et al, 2013 ONSC 5401 (CanLII) Is an alleged haunting a latent defect? Notoriety principle applied.