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Is nondisclosure of a yacht’s defects grounds for a lawsuit?

On Behalf of | Aug 31, 2023 | Maritime Ownership

Buying a yacht is a major commitment. These large, luxury vessels can cost more than a starter home might. Individuals in Connecticut preparing to purchase a yacht are often so eager because of the location, condition, appearance or price of a vessel offered for sale that they fail to properly consider the value of the vessel and perform their due diligence as a buyer.

Given the price tag and how many of the systems in a yacht overlap with the systems in real property, buyers might mistakenly believe that they have the same kind of protections that home buyers do. However, the rules protecting the parties that purchase yachts and other seafaring vessels are very different from the laws that apply to real estate transactions.

There is no disclosure requirement in most cases

Although there might be a seven-figure price tag for a yacht, a buyer has no guarantees about honesty on the part of the seller. They could potentially list the property in as-is condition with the intention of lying about known issues with the vessel.

For example, someone who was the owner of the yacht she sells the vessel to a new buyer could list the yacht in as-is condition or note on the sales paperwork that certain systems are in unknown condition. Unless the buyer discovers incontrovertible evidence that the seller knew about specific defects and intentionally misled them on disclosure paperwork, the buyer will have a very difficult time holding the seller accountable for a vessel listed in as-is condition.

Buying a yacht is one of the scenarios in which the warning that buyers should beware definitely proves true. The one exception in which a seller could have some degree of accountability for misrepresenting the condition of a yacht would be if there is a licensed broker involved in the transaction. Brokers typically need to carry insurance and are bound by a professional code of ethics that will require them to notify interested parties about known issues with the vessel.

Discovering that there are issues that necessitate expensive repairs or that undermine the overall value and seaworthiness of a yacht that someone has recently purchased can be a very disappointing and frustrating experience. Those who understand the rules that govern yacht sale transactions are in a better position to demand financial justice for the misconduct of a seller or the broker representing them in the event that such misconduct occurs.