In a recent B.C. Court of Appeal decision, the court was asked to revisit the age old question of whether vendors of real property in British Columbia can still rely on the doctrine of caveat emptor or ‘buyer beware’ to avoid certain types of claims made by disgruntled purchasers. In short, the court ultimately recognized the continuing application of the doctrine with only certain limited exceptions: fraud, non-innocent misrepresentations, an implied warranty of habitability for newly constructed homes, and a duty to disclose latent defects. Absent one of these exceptions, and despite the existence of a property disclosure statement (“PDS”) in most residential property transactions, a purchaser may be precluded from successfully pursuing a claim against a vendor. In another important aspect of the case, the court also confirmed that a PDS only requires a vendor to provide its current state of knowledge in response to questions contained therein and therefore there is very limited opportunity for a vendor to be liable based on those responses even if the vendor’s knowledge is factually not correct.
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