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Homeowner has recourse in case of the leaking roof

My wife and I bought a home recently. At the time of purchase we were assured by the sellers that the roof was in sound condition and they had never had trouble with leaks. After the first rainstorm, there were leaks throughout the house. All the leaky areas had been newly painted to conceal signs of water stains.

Incidentally, no real estate agent was involved.

I would like to know whether there is a law to protect a buyer from this type of trickery.

Michael McCarthy

Response: Yes there is.

Unlike some other states, Florida does not require Seller Disclosure Statements on which sellers list the known defects of their properties.

But, according to our real estate expert, Florida has something better _ a famous court case called Johnson vs. Davis. The gist of the court's decision was that it is the seller's duty to disclose known defects the buyer likely would not see and which would be costly for the buyer to find out about if he were to hire someone to do a more thorough inspection of the property.

So if the water stains on your ceiling had not been painted, then you would have been expected to see that the roof leaked. Because they were painted, it was the seller's duty to tell you about the leaks.

On the other hand, if your contract carried a stipulation that you must get a roofing inspection, but you did not, then you are left out in the rain.

We suggest you hire a real estate attorney.

Most buyers of homes and condominiums are unaware of the potential for disaster in their ignorance of real estate law. So we also suggest before you buy or sell, you read up on real estate law. There are many books available.

The average homeowner doesn't know which property rights are protected by law, how to secure a good title and record it, whether covenants are legal, how to pick a broker or what that broker's legal responsibilities entail. Most people don't realize the importance of hiring a professional inspector to look for defects in the home they are thinking about buying, nor do they know that they can buy home warranty insurance policies to protect themselves against little surprises _ such as a water heater that starts to leak a month after closing.

The most important thing you probably will learn from your reading is that it is best to hire a real estate attorney before you get burned (or rained on).

Why should diabetics avoid silver?

Why is it that people with diabetes are advised to wear stainless or gold Medic Alert bracelets but not sterling silver ones? No one I asked seems to know.

Sophia Conners

Response: Medic Alert officials tell us that the recommendation on their advertising brochure stems from their experience with many diabetics who experience a high incidence of tarnishing when they wear silver bracelets.

Silver is much more sensitive than gold or stainless to certain compounds, but Dr. Paul Denker at the University of South Florida's Department of Endocrinology said Medic Alert's contention has never been proven or documented. Diabetics drink more water than the average person and so may perspire more, he says, but the chemical composition of their perspiration is not different.

Hearing aid bought in wrong place

I bought myself a hearing aid about six weeks ago. Humana Gold Plan was supposed to pay 50 percent of the cost. We sent in all the papers after paying in full but never heard a thing.

Do hope you will make us happy.

G.B.

Response: We're sorry, but you apparently did not read your Humana policy, and that mistake is going to cost you nearly $400.

Humana officials said they gave you a list of participating hearing aid providers. Humana will provide benefits only if you use these providers.

You bought your $795 hearing aid from a company not covered by Humana's plan, therefore Humana will not reimburse you.

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