When you sell a duplex, triplex or fourplex in Silicon Valley, the state of California requires you to tell prospective buyers about faults in the property. You’re not required to list every crack in the sidewalk or every chip in the paint – but you are required to disclose any material defects in the property. If you don’t, the future buyer can hold you liable.

Here’s what you need to know.

Material Defect Disclosures When Selling a Duplex, Triplex or Fourplex

Material defects are things that are broken or damaged, or that don’t work the way they’re supposed to, such as the home’s foundation, the plumbing, the HVAC system, the roof or something else. Naturally, you don’t have to disclose things you don’t know about – but you do have to disclose everything you do know about. Later, if an issue pops up, the buyer could come back on you and say, “We’re sure he knew about this issue – there’s no way he couldn’t have known about it.” If a judge agrees that you likely knew about the issue, you can be held liable.

The point is that if there’s a material defect in the home, a buyer deserves to know so he or she can make the right choice. When a buyer knows about the same material defects you know about, it lightens your legal liability – the buyer can make an informed decision and choose to accept the house as it is (or ask you to fix it).

Specific Things You Must Disclose When You Sell a Duplex, Triplex or Fourplex

In the state of California, the law requires you to disclose things like a leaking roof, structural information or anything that could impact a buyer’s decision to purchase the property. You also must disclose whether anyone passed away in the home over the past three years. You’ll have to include information about all the appliances (including whether they’re operational), room additions, neighborhood noise issues, and any damage that’s been done to the home.

Your REALTOR® will ensure that all your disclosure forms are filled out properly and completely – but it’s your responsibility to tell your agent about any problems the home has. If you fail to disclose something that you know about, the person or entity that buys the property in the future could come back and sue you to make repairs.