Nightmare at second sight

By Laura TomassiniLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

It is one of the big steps in life: Moving into the first rented flat, buying a house together, then the official handing over of the keys. The dream of owning a flat or house is sealed with the purchase of a property, but if unexpected hidden defects occur, the dream can quickly turn into a nightmare.

For Maxime (name changed by the editors) and his partner, 2018 should to be the year in which they would put the cherry on top of their already existing happiness: In May, the couple signed the purchase of their new home, where they plan to grow old with children someday. For almost a year, the 300-square-metre apartment building was advertised by local real estate agencies, and it finally went to Lena (name changed by the editors) and Maxime for around one million. At the time, neither of them suspected that there would be several hidden defects, so-called "vices cachés", behind the deal.

"The previous owner had built the house with his own company and divided the upper floors into two studios that were rented out. When we were there to to have a round tour, we liked everything right away, because we could imagine setting up flats for our children in the attic one day", Maxime recalls. Under the roof, the wallpaper had already come partly loose due to water penetration, and on the second floor, a break-through has to be done, but the couple was willing to put up with the resulting costs; after all, they were standing in the rooms of their future.


"The owner assured us that the roof damage had been repaired and that the ten-year guarantee was valid for another two years, so we hoped that he would not lie to us", says Maxime. An enquiry with the notary revealed that the seller's company had gone bankrupt and the guarantee was no longer valid, but the good contact between the parties gave the potential buyers a sense of security and the purchase contract was signed. Only six months later, however, Maxime and Lena discovered that they had been hoodwinked, because several cost traps were hidden in the house.

"In December of that year, there was a heavy thunderstorm and all of a sudden buckets of water were running through the frames of our windows", reports the temporary owner. When Maxime rushed up to the roof to check the supposedly repaired area to be on the safe side, it was also dripping into the house and on closer inspection he discovered a kind of fluff on the wooden mouldings – so there had been water penetration here as well. "I called the seller immediately, of course, but he assured me he had never had any problems with it and would check with the roofer who had done the work."

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