Q: Last year we purchased a condo. Although we noticed water stains on the ceiling, the transfer disclosure statement indicated that the roof was replaced in 1989 and we believed that the stains predated the roof's replacement. Now we find out that the roof is actually more than 10 years old and is being replaced by the condo association at a cost of $2,500 to each unit. Needless to say, we feel as though we were duped. What recourse do we have? J.J.B.
A: Clearly, you have a legal problem. Although you could go directly to an attorney, a less costly solution might be to file a complaint in Small Claims Court. Against whom? At the very least you should go after the seller. But our experts suggest that you also name both your real estate agent and that of the seller as respondents, because the water stains on the ceiling should have triggered an inquiry from them into the condition of the roof.
You should also determine whether the seller, his agent or your agent ever received a copy of the condo association's statement of reserves, a document that should have indicated whether the group had money set aside for major capital improvements, such as a new roof. If the condo association provided erroneous information, it, too, could be included in any legal action.
Carla Lazzareschi cannot answer mail individually but will respond in this column to financial questions of general interest. Please do not telephone. Write to Money Talk, Business Section, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, Calif. 90053.