If you are looking to buy a real estate property, it is your duty as a prudent and diligent buyer to ascertain that the property is free from defects of quality and ownership. Pre-purchase inspections are essential to avoid buying a defective property and potential lawsuits. Neglecting this duty will limit a buyer’s recourse when trying to enforce the legal warranties found under the Civil Code of Québec.
Upon discovering a defect, a buyer is also obligated to denounce it within a reasonable time to the seller to provide him/her with the opportunity to investigate the defect and attempt to remediate it.
The buyer could be entitled to annul the contract, or seek a price reduction if he/she successfully invokes legal warranties against the seller.
The prudent and diligent buyer
The prudent and diligent buyer is an objective standard which does not require retaining the services of an expert to complete the pre-purchase inspection. However, it is highly recommended to delegate the task to an expert with experience in the field. It must be noted that the inspection required is a visual one, and does not require special analysis.
It is essential that a buyer conducts a thorough pre-purchase inspection of the property and investigates any apparent signs of potential defects. Upon discovering signs of potential defects, a buyer will often have to retain the services of a specialized expert to explore potential defects and determine whether the property has any latent defects. A failure to explore apparent signs of potential defects will limit a buyer’s recourse when trying to enforce legal warranties of quality and ownership.
Consequently, a latent defect may be held as apparent if a prudent and diligent buyer could have discovered the defect through a thorough visual inspection of the property.
Courts will also consider the experience and professional status of a buyer to determine whether the person seeking to enforce the legal warranty is a professional buyer. Such a determination will increase the expectations of diligence incumbent on the buyer.
If your recently purchased property was sold with a latent defect, contact an attorney who specializes in real estate law in order to enforce your rights in this unfortunate situation.
OBLIGATIONS OF BUYERS AND SELLERS
 St-Louis v. Morin, 2006 QCCA 1643; Lapierre v. Lahaie, 2007 QCCS 405.
 Cloutier v. Létourneau,(C.A 1992-11-25); Gélinas v. Beaumier,(C.A 1989-11-14).
 Translated from French to English: Viens, Isabelle, La Prudence et la diligence de l’acheteur en matière de vices cachés : un concept a définitions multiples, dans Droit Immobilier – Second conference, Vol. 15, Cowansville, Éditions Yvons Blais, 2012, p.43.
 Lahaie v. Lapierrière, 2009 QCCA 1285, at para 49.
 Note: The buyer retains his recourses against the inspector who failed to conduct the inspection in accordance with the norms of the industry. This recourse may be coupled with recourses against the seller in cases of fraud.
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The above noted text should not be construed as providing legal advice or a statement of your claim. The process highlighted above are merely parameters and barometers and do not constitute any warranties and guaranties with regards to your file at hand. We strongly recommend that you seek legal advice with a licensed attorney from the Barreau du Quebec or a notary at the Chambre des Notaires. Each case must be seen and analysed on its merits as the legal process may be complex and cumbersome.