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Special Report: Real Estate Legal Hot Points

Small Claims Court

Legal Duty to Disclose



CGB Reports

Small Claims Court
There is a forum for relief that will not cause an entity to incur legal fees to protect their interest against the wrongful act of another. The forum is small claims court.

The jurisdictional limits for an entity, other than an individual, is five thousand dollars ($5,000.00) (Code of Civil Procedure § 116.220). However, as of June 1, 2006, the small claims court, with certain limitations, has jurisdiction in an action brought by a natural person, if the amount of the demand does not exceed seven thousand five hundred dollars ($7,500) (Code of Civil Procedure § 116.221).

Keep in mind that should you chose the forum of small claims court and lose, you have no right to appeal. There is no right to representation by an attorney for any party in a small claims action.

However, the defendant (entity you sued) has a right to a trial de novo (new trial-appeal) before a Superior Court Judge if they lose (rational: that entity did not chose the small claims forum). At the new trial, each side has the right to be represented by counsel.

It is often more cost effective, if your damages are within the statutory limits of small claims court, to prosecute that dispute in small claims court.

Legal Duty To Disclose
California Civil Code § 1102, Seller's duty to disclose, applies to the transfer by sale, exchange, installment land sale contract (as defined in Section 2985), lease with an option to purchase, any other option to purchase, ground lease coupled with improvements, of real property or residential stock cooperative, improved with or consisting of not less than one or more than four dwelling units. When required, the Seller must disclose all information that the Seller knows, or should know, that affect the value and/or desirability of the property, i.e., any fact materially affecting the value and desirability of the property, including, but not limited to, the physical conditions of the property and previously received reports of physical inspections.

Delivery of a transfer disclosure statement may not be waived in an "as-is" sale. (Civil Code § 1102.1)

California Civil Code § 2079 defines the real estate broker or salesperson's duty of disclosure to a prospective purchaser of residential real property comprising one to four dwelling units, or a manufactured home. The duty is to conduct a reasonably competent and diligent visual inspection of the property offered for sale and to disclose to the prospective purchaser all facts materially affecting the value or desirability of the property that an investigation would reveal. § 2079 applies if the broker has a written contract with the seller to find or obtain a buyer and to any broker that acts in cooperation with that broker.

The above is not an exhaustive recitation of the duties imposed by Civil Code §§ 1102, et seq. and 2079, et seq. but points to keep in mind as the first step in avoiding going afoul of the statutory and common law duty of disclosure.

The statements and information provided on this website, and in the CGB Law Letter, Releases, Legal Corner, or Reports are for the information of the recipient only and are not intended to provide legal advice nor is it intended as a substitute for legal advice by a qualified attorney. No attorney-client relationship should be deemed to arise from receipt of the aforementioned publications and/or information provided on this website. Those having specific questions regarding the cases or issues addressed herein are urged to contact a qualified attorney.

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