It’s a common enough scenario. Home buyer (not a professional) wants to buy what looks like a bargain. Home buyer goes to an attorney and the closing takes place. Problem? ECB as judgments against the property which don’t get taken care of, the neighbor has a right to use the driveway and there are structural problems. Was it the obligation of the attorney to tell the buyer to get an inspection? Did the attorney have to explain the title search results to the buyer?
Right now, in Bergwijn v Big Queens Rehab Inc. 2017 NY Slip Op 31227(U) June 1, 2017 Supreme Court, Kings County Docket Number: 505174/16 Judge: Genine D. Edwards the title company is out, and there is to be more briefing for the attorney.
“Bergwijn commenced this action on April 5, 2016, regarding his January 9, 2012 purchase of the residential real property at 115 Miller Avenue in Brooklyn (Property) from defendant, Big Queens Rehab Inc. (Big Queens). In connection with the sale of the Property, DeGaetano was Bergwijn’s attorney and Old Republic issued Owner’s Policy Of Title Insurance No. OX-08524493 (Title Policy)
The complaint alleges that Big Queens and DeGaetano “advised Plaintiff that he did not need an inspection of the house” and, in reliance on that advice, Bergwijn did not have the Property inspected (complaint at iii! 14-15 and 18). Allegedly: (1) Bergwijn was not informed of Environmental Control Board (ECB) violations against the Property; (2) there was an illegal basement and a hidden bathroom at the Property; (3) the neighbor had an easement to use the common driveway at the Property; and (4) DeGaetano “encouraged” Bergwijn “to sign the closing documents without explaining what they meant” (id. atirif 19- 22). The complaint further alleges that the ECB violations “had been converted into Judgments totaling $66,000.00 [which] predate the Plaintiffs purchase of the Property” and “the Title Policy from Defendant Old Republic … did not alert Plaintiff to any of the liens, judgments or violations … ” (id. at iii! 25 and 26). ”
“ORDERED that: (a) Bergwijn shall serve and file papers in opposition to DcGaetano’s motion for summary judgment within 45 days of service of a copy of this interim decision and order with notice of entry; (b) DeGaetano shall serve and file papers in opposition to Bergwijn’s cross-motion for summary judgment within 45 days of service of a copy of this interim decision and order with notice of entry; (c) DeGaetano shall serve and file reply papers in further support of his motion for summary judgment within 45 days of receipt of opposition papers; and ( d) Bergwijn shall serve and file reply papers in further support of his cross-motion for summary judgment within 45 days of receipt of opposition papers. “