Senate Bill No. 278
(By Senators Ross, Helmick, Sharpe, Yoder, Anderson and
[Introduced February 1, 1996; referred to the Committee
on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend chapter thirty-six of the code of West Virginia,
one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding
thereto a new article, designated article twelve, relating
to a residential property condition disclosure act; short
title; application of article; exemptions; definitions;
required disclosures; acknowledgement of receipt; time for
disclosure; liability of seller or seller's agent;
limitation of actions; no invalidation of transfer; and
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter thirty-six of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated article twelve, to read
ARTICLE 12. RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY CONDITION DISCLOSURE ACT.
§36-12-1. Short title.
This article may be cited as the "West Virginia Residential
Property Condition Disclosure Act."
§36-12-2. Application of article.
The provisions of this article apply to transfers by sale,
exchange, installment land contract, lease with an option to
purchase or ground lease of a manufactured housing lot or
residential real property, improved with dwelling units for one
to four families.
(a) This article does not apply to the following transfers
of residential real property:
(1) Transfers pursuant to a court order including, but not
limited to, transfers ordered by a court in administration of an
estate, transfers ordered pursuant to a writ of execution,
transfers by foreclosure sale, transfers by a trustee in
bankruptcy, transfers by eminent domain and transfers resulting
from a decree of specific performance;
(2) Transfers to a beneficiary of a deed of trust by a trustor or successor in interest who is in default; transfers by
a trustee under a deed of trust pursuant to a foreclosure sale,
or transfers by a beneficiary under a deed of trust who has
acquired the real property at a sale conducted pursuant to a
foreclosure sale under a deed of trust or has acquired the real
property by a deed in lieu of foreclosure;
(3) Transfers by a fiduciary in the course of the
administration of a decedent's estate, guardianship,
conservatorship or trust;
(4) Transfers from one or more co-owners solely to one or
more other co-owners;
(5) Transfers made solely to any combination of a spouse or
a person or persons in the lineal line of consanguinity of one or
more of the transferors;
(6) Transfers between spouses resulting from a decree of
divorce or a property settlement stipulation pursuant to the
provisions of article two, chapter forty-eight of this code;
(7) Transfers made by virtue of the record owner's failure
to pay any federal, state or local taxes; and
(8) Transfers to or from any governmental entity or public
or quasi-public housing authority or agency.
(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the
contrary, the builder of a new dwelling shall disclose in writing
to the purchaser thereof all known material defects which would
constitute a violation of any applicable building code. The
disclosure required by this subsection shall be made by a
builder: (1) When selling a completed dwelling, before
acceptance of the purchase contract; or (2) when selling a
dwelling before or during its construction, after issuance of a
certificate of occupancy. This disclosure does not abrogate any
warranty or any other contractual obligations the builder may
have to the purchaser. The disclosure required by this
subsection shall be made on the disclosure form described in
section ten of this article. If no defects are known by the
builder to exist, the builder shall so state on the disclosure
form required by this subsection.
As used in this article, unless the context clearly requires
(1) "Agent" means any individual, partnership, corporation
or trustee defined as a "real estate broker," "associate broker"
or "real estate salesperson" in section two, article twelve, chapter forty-seven of this code, who acts on behalf of a seller
or buyer of residential real property;
(2) "Buyer" means any individual, partnership, corporation
or trustee purchasing any estate or interest in real property;
(3) "Final settlement" means the time at which the parties
have signed and delivered all papers and consideration to convey
title to the estate or interest in the residential real property
(4) "Material defect" means any defect or condition that
would tend to unreasonably and adversely affect either the
usefulness or the value of residential real property.
(5) "Residential real property" means any estate or interest
in a manufactured housing lot or real property, improved by
dwelling units for one to four families;
(6) "Seller" means any individual, partnership, corporation
or trustee leasing, selling or otherwise transferring any estate
or interest in residential real property;
(7) "Subagent" means any individual, partnership,
corporation or trustee who acts on behalf of an agent.
§36-12-5. Required disclosures; acknowledgement of receipt.
(a) Except for transfers specifically excluded from the provisions of this article, a seller transferring residential
real property shall disclose, in writing on forms as prescribed
under the provisions of section ten of this article, to a buyer,
agent and subagent, as appropriate:
(1) All material defects of that property that are known to
him or her at the time the property is offered for sale or that
are known prior to the time of final settlement;
(2) All other items which are required to be disclosed
relative to the physical condition of the property including, but
not limited to:
(A) The water and sewer systems, including the source of
household water, water treatment system and sprinkler system;
(C) Structural systems, including roof, walls, floors,
foundation and basement, if any;
(D) Plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning
(E) Wood-destroying insect or other infestations;
(F) Land use or zoning matters;
(G) Hazardous or regulated materials, including asbestos,
lead-based paint, radon and underground storage tanks; and
(H) Any other material condition or defect known to the
(b) The disclosure form shall contain a notice to
prospective buyers that he or she may wish to obtain professional
advice or inspections of the property. The notice shall state
that the information contained in the disclosure is the
representation of the seller and is not the representation of an
agent or salesperson, if any. The notice shall further state
that the seller's representations are for disclosure purposes
only and do not constitute a warranty of any kind by the seller
nor do they substitute for any inspections or warranties, which
the parties, or either of them, may wish to obtain or provide for
in any agreement between them. The seller shall not be required
to undertake or provide any independent investigation or
inspection of the property in order to make the disclosures
required by this article.
(c) A buyer shall acknowledge receipt of the disclosure
statement required by this article, in writing upon receipt, on
a form as may be prescribed pursuant to section ten of this
§36-12-6. Time for disclosure.
The disclosures required to be made by this article shall be
made in writing before the seller signs a listing agreement, if
any, and shall be updated or amended as necessary to reflect
knowledge subsequently acquired by the seller or agent or any
material changes occurring in the property before the time of
final settlement: Provided, That in all cases, a seller shall
provide to a buyer, agent and subagent, as appropriate, the
disclosures required by this article, before any acceptance by
the buyer of an offer.
§36-12-7. Liability of the seller or seller's agent.
(a) The provisions of this article do not give rise to a
cause of action against a seller or a seller's agent or subagent
(1) Material defects in the condition of the residential
property which are disclosed to the buyer prior to the buyer's
making an offer to purchase;
(2) Material defects which may develop after the offer to
purchase is made but which are disclosed before the time of final
settlement: Provided, That the seller has complied with the
agreement of sale; or
(3) Material defects which occur or develop after the final settlement.
(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the
contrary, neither a seller nor a seller's agent is liable under
this article for any error, inaccuracy or omission of any
information required by this article to be disclosed if: (1) The
error, inaccuracy or omission was based on information provided
by public agencies and the seller and any agent of the seller
reasonably believed the information to be correct and had no
actual knowledge to the contrary; or (2) the error, inaccuracy or
omission was based upon information provided in a report or
opinion of a licensed engineer, land surveyor, geologist, pest
control expert, contractor or other home inspection expert,
dealing with matters within the scope of his or her license or
expertise, and the seller and any agent of the seller reasonably
believed the information to be correct, had no actual knowledge
to the contrary and used due care in obtaining the information
from the third party and in transmitting it to the buyer.
§36-12-8. Limitation of actions.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the
contrary, in no event may an action based on the breach of any
duty imposed by this article be commenced more than one year from the date of occupancy by the buyer or recordation of the
transfer, whichever occurs first.
§36-12-9. No invalidation of transfer.
No transfer of residential real property may be invalidated
solely because of the failure of any person to comply with the
provisions of this article.
§36-12-10. Property condition and material defect report forms
and acknowledgement of receipt forms.
The West Virginia real estate commission shall develop a
standard form to be used as the "disclosure of residential real
property condition and material defects report form" and a form
acknowledging receipt of same. These forms shall provide for the
disclosure of all information required by the provisions of this
article and shall be made available to the public no later than
the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety-six.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to impose a duty on
sellers and lessors of certain residential real estate to
disclose material defects and conditions to prospective buyers or
This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.