Hidden flaws in apartments
We sold our apartment in January. The buyers have contacted us in July saying that there was a "dolt fel" with the electrics in the kitchen and they had to redo all of the electricity there. They sent us a bill for 15000kr. The apartment was 100 years old but the kitchen was renovated 6 years ago by the person who sold us the apartment. We did not know about any problem but have mentioned verbally that when the oven and dishwasher were on, the fuse would blow. The buyers knew that there was no certificate for the kitchen renovation. They did not perform a survey before buying the apartment. The question is: are we liable for this "dolt fel"? We feel that if they had a survey done this would have been easily found. We lived there for 5 years and had no problems.
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Below I will try to explain to you the situation in details. For a short summary to the answer, you can scroll down to "conclusion".
Apartments in the Swedish legal system is classified as movable properties or lös egendom. This means that the applicable law would be Köplagen (KöpL), instead of Jordabalken (JB). This is because jordabalken only regulates properties that are immovable or fast egendom.
A flaw (fel) is something that does not comply with the agreement in terms of the object's nature, quantity, quality and other characteristics. It is considered a hidden flaw or dolt fel if the object differs from what the buyer could justifiably have assumed (17 § KöpL).
What both partners have agreed on the nature of the object must be seen as the starting point for determining defects. This means that, what is written in the contract and what was verbally brought up during the purchase must be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not something is considered a flaw.
"What the buyer could justifiably have assumed" means that a buyer can claim that the object is flawed if it does not meet their expectations. However, their expectations are limited. It is limited to the object's condition, qualities, characteristics and/or verbal information that were brought up during the purchase. For example, a buyer's expectations could be limited by things like the object's age, how it was used or treated by the previous owner. It could also be limited by warnings that the seller has brought up in conversations during the purchase.
Obligation to examine the object
A buyer may not claim that the object is flawed if it is something that the buyer must be presumed to have known at the time of the purchase (20 § fösta stycket KöpL). Furthermore, If the buyer has examined the product before purchase or without acceptable reason has failed to follow the seller's request to examine it, he may not claim flaws or defects that the buyer should have noticed during the examination, unless the seller has acted in breach of good faith (20 § andra stycket KöpL).
A buyer is obligated to examine the object before they purchase it. A buyer cannot claim that the object is flawed if the flaw is something that they have known at the time of the purchase. Furthermore, a buyer cannot claim that the object is flawed if the flaw is something that they should have discovered during the examination.
Because the object in question is an apartment, the examination is not as thorough as it would be if it was a house or a building. But it still requires the buyer to be careful. The extent of the examination varies case by case. In some cases, such as in new apartments, a quick examination would suffice. In other case, if the apartment is in generally poorer condition, a more in-depth examination is required. The extent of examination could also be affected by the seller's statements and knowledge at the time of the purchase. What is brought up by the seller, verbally or in writing, can either cause the extent of examination to be simpler or more thorough.
It is important to note that the buyer could still claim that the object is flawed, even if it is something that they should have discovered during the examination, if the seller has acted in breach of good faith i.e. tried to trick the buyer.
Are you liable for the flaw?
As stated in your question, the apartment is 100 years old. The kitchen has been renovated 6 years ago by the owner before you, but it is missing a certificate. Furthermore, you have mentioned to the buyer that the fuse would blow if the oven and dishwasher are on. Lastly, the buyers have not done any examination to the apartment. These are information that could limit the buyers' expectations of the apartment and could also affect the examination to be more thorough.
I personally think that you are not responsible for the flaw, provided that you have not acted in breach of good faith. I consider that the buyers should have examined the apartment thoroughly, considering the age of the apartment and the problem with the dishwasher and oven that you have verbally mentioned. Even though the kitchen was renovated 6 years ago, it was missing a certificate. The missing certificate and the recurring problem (dishwasher & oven) should have been enough to make the buyers more cautious about the condition of the kitchen. Lastly, they didn't even examine the apartment. I believe that the problem with the electricity in the kitchen could have easily been discovered by a thorough examination.
In conclusion, I do not think that you are liable for the problem. This is because the buyer did not fulfill their obligation to examine the apartment, despite the age of the apartment and clear warnings from your side. If a buyer would like to claim that the object is flawed, it must be something that are within the framework of their justified expectations. Furthermore, they need to have fulfilled their obligation to examine the object. The buyer cannot claim that the apartment is flawed if the flaw is something that they should have discovered if they had done a proper examination.
I hope that your question is answered,
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