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What Is a Latent Defect?

When buying property, buyers often make sure to do a full inspection in order to know the condition and state that the object or property is in. This is to ensure that they’re getting their money’s worth. However, it is possible that a defect or fault could exist despite a thorough inspection being made. Such a fault is referred to as a latent defect, since it only appears after the sale and despite thorough inspection.


The general law applied to any sales transaction is caveat emptor—let the buyer beware. This means that it is the responsibility of the buyer to fully inspect their purchases before paying for them and taking them into possession. Despite thorough inspection, it is still possible that certain faults cannot be found until after a few days or a certain period of time. For example, a person buys a car after thorough inspection and test-driving. The person buys the car, and after a few days, realizes that there is something wrong with the engine. It was obviously not possible for the buyer to dissect the engine, and such a latent defect could not have been discovered had it not been for the few days of driving done. Thus, a sales purchase will often involve a guarantee with regards to latent defects. These guarantees often involve the sales person or company to provide compensation with regards to repair.


A latent defect guarantee is not automatic in every sales contract. Thus, the person buying must ensure that he or she does not fall victim to any products susceptible to latent defects without a guarantee.

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