Maryland, one of the densest areas in the USA, has its own real estate law to regulate the real estate business. Maryland real estate laws are governed by Title 17 of the Code of Maryland (Statutes).
According to Section 10-702 of the Code of Maryland, a seller must disclose any defects in the selling home or property.
What are the seller’s disclosure obligations?
First of all, both the seller and the buyer should be aware of the Maryland disclosure requirements. If the property for sale has any defects, the seller should disclose those defects according to the Maryland real estate laws. The seller should make this disclosure before signing the sale or purchase agreement.
Maryland has a unique law regarding the disclosure. The seller needs to fill in a Residential Property Disclosure and Disclaimer Statement Form. Using this form, the seller will then disclose the property’s conditions and any defects. The unique part of the law is that the seller has to provide one of the above forms, not both.
In simple terms, this means that a seller has two options. They can provide information about the defects of the home or property through the disclosure form. Or, they may provide no information through the disclaimer, therefore leaving any problems for the buyer to investigate and discover.
The form consists of four pages but consists of two forms. One is for disclosure, and the other is for disclaimer. To comply with Maryland real estate laws, the seller has the option to go for either disclosure or disclaimer.
Disclosure or disclaimer – unique to Maryland real estate laws
If the seller decides to fill in the disclaimer form, then the seller has no obligations to disclose the conditions of the property. In that case, the buyer will find the defects of the property by himself or by appointing an inspector. The buyer cannot ask for payment for that.
According to Section 10-702 (d) of the Code of Maryland, the disclaimer must “disclose any latent defects of which the vendor has actual knowledge that a purchaser would not reasonably be expected to ascertain by a careful visual inspection and that would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of the purchaser or an occupant.”
From the above, it is clear under Maryland real estate laws that the seller does not have any obligations to disclose the defects of the property if he or she fills in the disclaimer form except latent defects.
On the other hand, if the seller fills in the disclosure part of the form, the buyer should disclose only the known defects of the home or the property. It is also called actual knowledge of the defects.
If the seller decides to fill in the disclosure part of the form, then he or she must answer all of the questions the form asks.
What else must the seller disclose?
According to Section 10-702 (e)(1) of the Code of Maryland, the home or property seller has to disclose the conditions of the home or the property including details about:
- Water system
- Sewer system
- The structural systems
- The electrical system
- Heating and air conditioning system
- The existence of the wood-destroying insects
- Whether any hazardous materials are present
- The existence of other materials that could be harmful
If you have any queries regarding Maryland real estate laws, then please do contact our learned lawyer.