Q. I have owned a loft condo for a couple of years and have had problems with the hardwood floors. Last summer, the floor started buckling and had to be replaced. The flooring people said it probably was due to humidity as the problem was not localized but throughout the open space. Over the last few weeks, the problem resurfaced and I finally had a plumber in to look at the issue. He found that the dishwasher was leaking, which had lead to creeping moisture. Now my floors need to be entirely replaced and I would like your advice with respect to my options.

A. You have a big problem on your hands with very little recourse.

The first issue you would think is that the dishwasher had been improperly installed and/or damaged in the process. The former owner may or may not have known about this problem. If he never really lived in the condo and never ran the dishwasher, he may have been entirely unaware of the problem.

The point you must remember is that if the former owner was aware of the problem (known legally as a latent defect) and did not divulge it to you before you purchased the property then it goes to the representations and warranties in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale and you may have some recourse. However, proving that the former owner had knowledge of this latent defect is the key to this problem. He may have known but the issue at law is whether you can prove it. When push comes to shove, it may be his word against yours.

The alternate route is to claim this on your insurance and be done with it. Insurance companies encounter this type of problem on almost a daily basis. This is why I always stress that clients should have contents insurance for their condo even though the building is covered by fire and replacement cost insurance. A leaky tub to a unit below, for example, can be a very costly experience for a condo owner.

– Jeffrey Cowan is the principal with Cowan Taylor and McGee, Barristers & Solicitors. The information in this article should not be relied upon as legal advice.