12 Aug Seller intentionally blocked plumbing before closing – any recourse?
I made a post here a couple months ago looking for advice on some issues we were having with our seller while under contract. The gist of that whole thing was basically he reached out to us and offered to sell us his unlisted FSBO house, it was perfect for us so we agreed. At some point we realized he had misrepresented a nonfunctional bathroom as being functional and when we asked how that would be resolved he got very upset, decided he didn’t want to sell to us, stopped interacting with us directly, and hired a lawyer to help do whatever they could to kill the deal. We really did not want to let the house go so we hung on for dear life while our agent worked miracles, and ended up closing June 28. The guy we bought the house from owns the house next door so he is still our neighbor until he sells that house in a year or two probably. Fuck that guy.
Anyway, the day of closing we ran the dishwasher and in the evening I noticed the excess water had not drained. Then I realized the kitchen sink was clogged. It would all slowly drain over hours, but the sink and dish washer were essentially unusable. None of that showed up in the inspection a few weeks prior. We didn’t fix it right away because money was tight – part of the way we managed to get the house in spite of the seller’s best efforts was to change from a VA loan to conventional at the last minute, so we made a down payment we hadn’t planned for. A few weeks later a plumber came out, checked a few things for $500, and said there was a blockage so dense the only repair was to cut out the pipe section and replace it for $1100. He couldn’t wait to see what was in it because it struck him as so unusual, especially when we told him there had been zero drainage issues at the inspection. When we told him the transaction had been contentious, he implied that the blocked pipe may have been intentional. Because the repair was so expensive, we waited a few more weeks before making moves to cut the blockage out.
Yesterday we hired a guy to fix things (for less than the initially quoted $1100 fortunately!) and when he cut the pipe open, it was full of topsoil and mulch. It had clearly come in from the top and not somewhere below. Like I said before, there were zero drainage issues at the inspection or previous walk throughs. Pipes don’t just fill up with mulch over the span of a few weeks. There is no doubt in my mind that the seller did this on purpose because we had the audacity to fulfill the purchase contract we all signed. My questions are a) is this as crazy as it seems to me?? I have to live next door to this guy for a while and I just want to know what I’m in for… and b) do we have any recourse? We only spent around $800 total on this plumbing issue and can’t really prove he did it so I know we aren’t taking him to court or anything, but what would you do?