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Ask Barrister Your Own Question
Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 33791
Experience:  15 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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I sold a home in Oregon last September and just this week received

Customer Question

I sold a home in Oregon last September and just this week received a letter from the buyers asking me to pay for damages caused by rats in their attic space. They called a pest control company and when they came out to help, the service man told them that he had been at the property before for the same reason. When I lived there, we were under contract with the pest control company to have the property treated for bugs...ants, spiders, etc. One day, when I was investigating how was a rat could have possibly entered the home, the service man said "you know...that's part of what we can service under your contract, right?" so I let them at it. They plugged a few holes I couldn't see, trapped a few rats on the property and a few rats from the attic space and after the activity had stopped, they told me that they think they solved the issue. Several months later, we market the home and sell it. Am I on the hook for the extermination of the rats that returned?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.
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Was there anything in the property disclosure form that related to any type of vermin infestation and whether it had been treated or not?
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If so, how did you answer it?
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Did you get any type of report from the exterminator that they felt the problem had been cured?
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thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I believe the question the buyers are leaning on would be "Are you aware of any past or present damage caused by infiltrating pests, termites, dry rot, or other wood-boring insects?" but this doesn't include vermin and is specifically tuned to the condition of the wood structure, in my opinion. I answered "no" to this question. I don't believe that I have a report specifically stating that the problem was cured but may be able to obtain old statements from the company for review.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have attached a blank sellers disclosures
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
Ok, then if that is the disclosure form that was used, I agree that the general reference is to things like termites and wood boring beetles and similar insects that damage wood. Vermin like rats and mice wouldn't fall into this category as any wood damage is incidental to their being there.
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With that said, I think that they are just "fishing" to see if they can scare you into contributing towards paying for any extermination costs and if not, then they likely wouldn't incur the costs and time of trying to sue with a questionable case in the grey area of the law.
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So I agree with your realtor that you shouldn't have anything to worry about.
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As an aside, in addition to being an attorney, I have also been a licensed Realtor for over 11 years...
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thanks
Barrister

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