Jennifer Lynn Walker: Buying with or without legal warranty

Any buyer looking for a property wants to know exactly what they are getting. Luckily, the law protects this interest. According to the real estate brokerage act, every property you buy in Quebec comes with legal warranty unless stated otherwise. This warranty is essentially a promise from the seller to the buyer that the property, and any extension of it such as a pool, shed, chimney, or garage, is free and clear of undisclosed defects.

Sales without legal warranty are the norm in some cases

Properties for sale without legal warranty are typically re-possessions, estate sales, or any other type of sale where there is no contact with the owner to ascertain the state of the property. Some sellers, such as apartment building landlords who haven’t lived on the property, may sell it without warranty because they can’t be certain their tenants have disclosed all the issues. These sellers opt not to sell with legal warranty because they don’t know their property in its entirety.

Some homeowners, often contractors who have renovated a property for resale, opt out of including a warranty. The biggest reason for this choice is that most just don’t want the headache of a buyer coming back at them for any possible issues. Also, people who buy without warranty will sometimes sell the same way.

Depending on the market and time of year, it is reasonable to expect that a house sold without legal warranty will sell for less because the buyer is taking a risk. How much less depends on the negotiation.

Sellers must declare what they know about the history of the property

Regardless of whether a property is sold with or without warranty, a real estate broker must have the seller, if they are not a corporation, fill out a Seller’s Declaration. The declaration is a legally mandatory, six-page document in which an owner declares everything they know about the building, its components, and its history. Anything that is likely to influence a real estate transaction must be disclosed in order for the co-contractor’s consent to be free and informed.

Be smart if you buy without legal warranty

When you are buying without legal warranty, you are essential buying the property, “as is”. You’ll want to make sure, during the buying process, that you do your due diligence. Have the property inspected by a licensed, insured professional building inspector. If they suggest further investigation on an issue, investigate. If there is any possibility of asbestos, pyrite or other contaminates, get them tested. It’s also a great idea to have a professional check the water main and sewer line in an older house.

Any previous owner can be sued

Whether there is legal warranty or not, previous owners can be sued over a property’s hidden defect. Nothing is stopping a disgruntled buyer from taking a seller to court. If the owner can prove that the vendor knew about the problem and didn’t declare, this can be constituted as fraud and considered a criminal act. However, if the seller can prove they were acting in good faith and did not know about the problem, the buyer who purchased the property without legal warranty is left with no recourse.

Jennifer Lynn Walker specializes in buying and selling residential and multiplex properties since 2003. She has built a strong team of industry experts, which gives her clients a seamless service. Founder of Montreal Real Estate Investor’s Group with 1,250+ members and Jolly Green Homes, devoted to helping you build an eco-friendly life. For more about Jenn and real estate resources, visit her online at:


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