OLR Research Report

September 22, 2006




By: George Coppolo, Chief Attorney

You asked how long a residential real estate buyer has to file a lawsuit because the seller failed to disclose drainage or other related water problems. Our office is not authorized to give legal opinions and this report should not be considered one.


A residential real estate purchaser who believes he has been harmed by the failure of the seller to disclose certain information about drainage and other water related problems should consult an experienced real estate attorney and provide the attorney with all relevant documents and a detailed explanation of the transaction. It is possible that after the person does this the attorney may conclude that he has the right to bring a legal action against various people including the seller, the real estate agent, the closing attorney, and the home inspector. For example, state law prohibits real estate agents and brokers from misrepresenting or concealing any material facts in any transaction. It is not possible for us to predict all the legal theories of recovery the attorney may come up with. Ultimately that depends on the exact circumstances. But we can provide you with the statute of limitation for the most likely types of legal theories that could be relied on as the basis of possible lawsuits.

It appears that the following legal theories might be available to a purchaser of residential real estate.

Legal Theory of Recovery

Statute of Limitation

Breach of a written contract

Six years from the breach

Breach of oral contract

Three years from the breach

Fraudulent misrepresentation

Three years from the act or omission

Fraudulent nondisclosure

Three years from the act or omission

Negligent misrepresentation

Three years from the act or omission

Breach of a fiduciary duty

Three years from the breach

Legal malpractice

Three years from the act or omission

Following is additional information about two legal theories relating to fraudulent misrepresentation and fraudulent non-disclosure.


To state a claim for common law fraud under Connecticut law, a plaintiff must allege that: (1) a misrepresentation was made as to a statement of fact; (2) the statement was untrue and known by the defendant to be untrue; (3) the statement was made to induce the plaintiff to act; and (4) the plaintiff acted on the misrepresentation to her detriment (Miller v. Appleby, 183 Conn. 51, 54-55, 438 A.2d 811 (1981), Dorsey v. Mancuso, 23 Conn.App. 629, 633, 583 A.2d 646 (1990) appeal denied, 217 Conn. 809 (1991)).


Under certain circumstances, there may be as much fraud in a person's silence as in a false statement. Mere nondisclosure, however, does not ordinarily amount to fraud. It will arise from such a source only under exceptional circumstances. To constitute fraud there must be (1) a failure to disclose known facts and (2) a request, an occasion, or a circumstance which imposes a duty to speak. To be actionable for fraud, the nondisclosure must be by a person intending or expecting by his non-disclosure to cause a mistake by another to exist or to continue, in order to induce him to enter into or refrain from entering into a transaction (Egan v. Hudson Nut Products, Inc., 142 Conn. 344 (1955)).