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Dimitry Esquire
Dimitry Esquire, Attorney
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  JA Mentor, multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation & admin
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We recently moved into a house where the owners were smokers

Customer Question

We recently moved into a house where the owners were smokers but claimed not to have smoked inside the house, only on their screened porch. They paid for a remediation on the porch to remove the smoke smell and we decided to do the whole house as a precaution. The owners had two ozone treatments done prior to listing and also repainted the entire house. The paint job was a "hack" job where there was no primer used and the paint is now peeling off the cabinets and porch floor. So, the nicotine was not sealed properly. The previous owners did get a partial refund from the paint company for the hack job.
We made an offer on the first day of listing because we live in an area where the market is highly competitive. We asked about smoking in the house and were told emphatically "no" by the owners' daughter, who was also their real estate agent. We would have never bought a house that was smoked in.
After the remediation, the nicotine started leaching out of the walls and wood and there was a residual nicotine/tar film on everything. Orange yellow is literally seeping from the surfaces. The remediation team came out to reinspect and said it was the worst case they had ever seen.
The smell is horrific and I have 2 small children, one of which has a rare genetic disorder which makes her more highly susceptible to cancer.
We have all been sick since we moved in and I ended up in Urgent care, where they told me most likely I had nicotine poisoning from the month-long cleaning I'd been doing.
The owners refuse to take any responsibility for lying to us about smoking in the house and our estimate to sanitize, re-carpet and repaint is currently around $50,000.
We are now forced to stay with my parents because we feel nicotine is incredibly toxic to our family but especially to our children.
Do you think we have a right to sue?
Thank you for your time,
Allison and Jared LaBonte
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Dimitry Esquire replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.

Alison and Jared,

I am genuinely sorry that you are in this situation. And I also believe you have a very strong basis for suit on basis of 'fraud' and 'material misrepresentation' and 'material omission'. If you have evidence, written evidence, that nicotine was such a strong condition, and it was not disclosed, you can demand damages and costs for repairs, or even a refund on the property. In general an owner of property has to disclose all known defects, and while smoking is not historically seen as a defect, if you can prove that this was a strong condition for you, you can still pursue them for losses.

Sincerely,

Dimitry, Esq.