The Cook & Tolley Blog

Does “as is” language release sellers of liability for defects?

Georgia, like most other states, has disclosure obligations that require the sellers of commercial and residential real estate to reveal to potential buyers certain defects that exist. The state enacts these requirements in order to ensure buyers can make as informed purchase decisions as possible. Failure for a seller to disclose known defects may result in a lawsuit against the seller and/or his or her agent — a lawsuit the buyer is bound to win. To skirt these obligations, many sellers strive to use “as is” language.

“As is” language, according to the Georgia Real Estate Commission, is language that basically says the seller plans to sell the property as-is. Many times, sellers use as-is language to get out of having to perform basic cosmetic repairs, such as repainting a structure or installing new kitchen cabinets. More ambitious sellers, however, incorporate this language in an attempt to avoid liability for known material defects in the property.

According to the Commission, as is language will typically not relieve a seller from the responsibility of material defects. If it does relieve him or her at all of any liability, it will likely only be for the relief of defects he or she disclosed to the buyer or for defects that are so obvious a quick visual inspection would have revealed them. As is language will not safeguard a seller against material defects he or she knew about but failed to disclose.

If the seller wishes to use as is language to free him or herself from liability for all enhancements or repairs, he or she must be sure to disclose all known defects in the contract. The contract should also clearly state that the buyer releases the seller and the seller’s agent from liability for all disclosed faults.

This article is not meant to serve as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.

Cook & Tolley, LLP
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Athens, GA 30601
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