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Summer 2006-09 Right to claim because of difference in area

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Number 64
Summer 2006

Right to claim because of difference in area

In Ramírez v. Soto, 2006 TSPR 100, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court revisited the old problem of the rights of a purchaser when the area of the property purchased turns out to be less than what he bargained for.

The controversy

Let's assume that you are going to purchase a property with the understanding that its total area is 450 square meters. Just before the closing you are advised that the actual area is only 421 square meters. Due to this difference, you get a proportional reduction in price from the seller. You also sign a sworn statement where you admit to your knowledge of the reduction in area and, therefore, in price, and you agree not to make any claims against the seller; however you reserve the right to state a claim against any adjacent property.

Do you actually have the right to claim from your neighbors after having received the price reduction?

Article 1358

Puerto Rico Civil Code article 1358 provides that:

"The obligation to deliver the thing sold includes that of placing in the possession of the vendee all that is mentioned in the contract, according to the following rules:

"If the sale of real property should be made with a statement of its area, at the rate of a certain price for a unit of measure or number, the vendor shall be obliged to deliver to the vendee, if the latter should require it, all that may have been mentioned in the contract; but should this not be possible, the vendee may choose between a proportional reduction in the price or the rescission of the contract, provided that in the latter case the decrease in the real estate is not less than one-tenth of the area given it.

"The same shall be done, even when the area appears to be the same, if any part of the real estate is not of the character mentioned in the contract.

"The rescission in such case shall only take place at the will of the vendee, when the inferior value of the thing sold exceeds one-tenth of the price agreed upon."

The ruling

In this case the court resolved that Code articles 1358-1361 apply when there is a discrepancy due to an error between the area agreed to the actual area; and that their provisions do not prevent that the buyer receive a price reduction plus the right to reclaim the missing area.


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