East Alton home has defects, owner says in suit

Kelly Holleran Sep. 1, 2009, 5:17am

An East Alton woman has filed suit against the couple who sold her the home in which she now resides, alleging they failed to disclose pertinent information about leaks and sewer problems.

Cheryl Riggs claims she and her mother, Beulah Voorhees, bought a home located at 1047 Rhondell Place from defendants Timothy and Farrah Welleck on Sept. 12, 2008.

Since then, Riggs's mother died, and Riggs is now the sole owner of the property, according to the complaint filed Aug. 28 in Madison County Circuit Court.

When Riggs and her mother purchased the home, they believed the house had no significant defects, but Riggs has since discovered multiple deficiencies in the home, the suit states.

For example, the home's foundation is insufficient to support its loads; the fireplace was left in a dangerous condition so that use of the hearth would result in carbon monoxide poisoning; water entered the home at its footing and foundation; the lower level of the home has repeatedly been soaked and the wall board and its wooden components have developed mold; the sanitary sewer piping system was clogged, collapsed and incorrectly installed; and the electrical system was installed unsafely, the complaint says.

Riggs says the Wellecks are in the business of buying and selling real estate and knew of the home's defects, but failed to reveal them to the Riggs.

In a Residential Real Property Disclosure Report dated May 25, 2008, Timothy Welleck indicated he was aware of flooding or a recurring leakage problem in the basement, but said the problem had been rectified, according to the complaint.

"Had Defendant been truthful regarding the status of the structure, plaintiff would not have purchased said home or alternatively would not have agreed to pay market value for said home," the suit states.

Contractors have been providing repair services, and it appears as if costs will run between $75,000 and $100,000, although no definitive costs is known because repairs are not yet finished, Riggs claims.

Also named as defendants in the suit are Preferred Partners, doing business as Re-Max Preferred Partners, and Hunt Home Inspections.

Farrah Welleck worked for Preferred Partners, who should have known that Riggs and her mother were in need of a safe home and would rely on their misrepresentations, according to the complaint.

Hunt Home Inspections failed to reveal the home's defects to Riggs, the suit states.

In the four-count suit, Riggs is seeking a judgment of not less than $150,000, actual and exemplary damages, plus attorney's fees and costs. She is also asking the court for a rescission of the contract, a judgment in her favor equal to the value of the home when purchased less the amount that the property is worth and a judgment equal to the costs of repairs.

She will be represented by Timothy J. Bates of Belleville.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-894.

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