Being sued for pests!

I have a client going after me because he has a roof rat problem! He wants onver $5000 to clean out, disinfect, and reinsulate his 3700’ attic. It was a vaulted ceiling with minimal access (anybody here crawl through scissor trusses down to the low end?) The contract excludes pest, the standards excludes pests, my insurance excludes pests(so they wont help me) This guy is just not listening to anything I or my insurance carrier is saying. He wont even get a second quote from another pest control company. My contract has an arbitration clause, but I dont know what the next step is. Wait for his lawyer?

No more contact with him. Wait for his lawyer. Don’t loose any sleep over it…it’s out of your control.

P.S. Did you state that you didn’t traverse the attic and disclaim any potential defects?

Get ahold of Joe Ferry. He knows what to do!

You have insurance and this guy knows that your carrier will pay him something in order to stay out of court. Accordingly, he will easily find an ambulance chaser willing to take his case on a contingency who will settle for your deductible, take his cut and give the rest to your client to apply toward his extermination bill.

Consult your own attorney before any additional contact with this your client.

Can you say, “I’ve gotta bulls eye on my back!

If you haven’t already done so, do not confirm to the client that you carry E&O insurance.

It’s in his advertising. Too late.

Even when your state requires it…inviting people to hire you for the perceived “benefit” of being insured is never a good idea…unless you like this kind of lawsuit.

My e&o agent has communicated with him. My agent realized today that the policy excludes pest claims and is going to tell him there is nothing to chase. My comments of the attic describe accessible areas. I did not specify that there were inaccessible area. My bad, but not to the tune of 5k

You might have to get your lawyer to force the insurance carrier to cover you on this. You conducted a home inspection…not a pest inspection…and therefore should be covered against any claims derived from it. The client, on the other hand, has no claim for action against them because of his pests…but you do.

Remember…in spite of all the advertising hyperbole to the contrary - your policy exists to protect you and not your client. Think about revising your public assurances that your policy somehow protects them for this is exactly what this client is thinking.

You definitely need legal representation.

WDI’s could be different than pests. Did you take pictures? Documentation is critical to any transaction/repairs. What was negotiated in the RE transaction? I bet he purchased it “AS IS”, so that leaves the agent, his broker, and their company off the hook. Very rarely do people read anything. We are impatient, visual beasts, and only want it fixed. To heck with reading. I agree to all that has been said on this one.

One reason I like the FL law on termite, pest (as well as WDI / WDO inspections. There is a legal wall of separation between those and home inspections. A home inspector isn’t “qualified” to even call a termite a termite unless they have the training, certification and an apprenticeship they must complete. Unfortunately, no amount of disclaimers, deference, etc. will deter a bonehead from pursuing a lawsuit.

Daren - Relax and don’t freak out. Let him do his thing and let him screw himself. You did all you can. Smile, know you did a good inspection and go on to the next one and lesson learned. Prlly just a bunch of smoke and if not, there is nothing left to do but wait. Stress solves nothing…

Tell him to go buy a cat and go away!

All ready stressing over that one, get a call today about AC that doesnt work. House has a heat pump and it was in the 40’s that day so I ran the heat and everything worked great for the duration of the inspection. Good delta T’s on the heating mode. 4 weeks later he is in and the AC doesn’t work. Home warrant says it is pre existing. I am done for today](*,)

Please tell me that you didn’t provide the client with the home warranty…:roll:

No, I am not in the warranty business. I just read the tickets from 2 AC contractors stating the blower did not work as primary problem. They also noticed hail damage to the condensor that could cause increased head pressure and damage the unit. There was a golfball size hail storm in october that has contractors all over the country here raping insurance companies. I am not going to fall victim to those guys. I was on the roof with the system running and that blower was working. Do I have to take a picture of every fan spinning to prove it did! Bad part is this realtor has brought me 4 others from 2 offices.

So my insurance company has stepped away from it and told me I would have shelled out $2500 towards deductible anyway, so just offer the guy $2500 to go away! I think a lawyer would be cheaper. Probably send this guy one letter and be done with it. Anyone know a good lawyer in the phx area?

Come on, this is what these people prey upon. They want you to buckle under the pressure. Don’t do it. Talk to Joe Ferry and see what he has to say. If people cave in at the first sign of trouble people will keep these bastardly deeds occurring!


Try putting some CYA language in your Reports so you don’t have to deal with this pigeon crap again. Look over a few of these…

[size=2]“We DID NOT not perform any WDI (wood destroying insect) inspection or pest evaluation at this property. A visual home inspection alone can not fully verify the absence or presence of wood destroying insects like termites, etc. A state licensed WDI specialist can provide information or perform testing for you. We are NOT state licensed to perform these type of inspections and therefore it would be illegal for us to do so”.

“In accordance with XXX industry standards, we do not attempt to enter any part of an attic where there is less than 60” of headroom; if there are no solid walkway or standard flooring designed for normal walking; if walking the attic in the inspectors opinion could be unsafe for himself or possibly damage the ceiling below; or if his movement is restricted by air ducts or if his path is obscured by insulation covering the joists or truss chords. In such cases we will examine the visible attic cavity as best we can from our access point, with no commentary or evaluations made of any areas not readily viewed from this area".

“We DID NOT operate or inspect the cooling system in the heat pump mode due to outside temperatures being in the 40 degree range. We did operate the heat pump system in the heating mode ant the components were operating and producing heat (a fast reversal in operation between modes can damage the compressor and at the current temperature do NOT produce an adequate cooling load). The unit appears functional, however we recommend checking the unit in the cooling mode prior to closing”.

“In order for some “Warranty’s” to provide reimbursement for a claim, records of annual service need to be available. If FULL diagnostic service (by a licensed HVAC Contractor) has not been completed within the last 6-12 months, claims might be denied. Verify this with the seller and get all records. If not available OR if the unit was not serviced recently, even if you are not getting a warranty - we recommend a FULL diagnostic service and check-up prior to closing”.

If Comfortable, defend yourself
Case clearly has no merit.
Small Claims will likely Dismiss Against You if You present a Defensible Position.

But… You have to be comfortable with that to present a positive defense…

Roof Rats are an Invasive pest that can occur at any time…
How is the current owner to prove that the rats were there at time of Inspection?
Did the Home Buyer complete a closing walkthru?
Were Roof rats observed then?
Were You contracted for closing review?
Does the Homebuyer have the home currenbtly under a pest control contract?

If they were there previously, you now have a disclosure issue that the Homeowner concealed?
Did the Homeowner Acknowledge their presence?
If a Buyer initiates Litigation, you are free to contact the prior Home Owner to prepare a defense…
If Prior Owner testifies they were NOT Present.
You are not liable for current presence.
Roof rats are an invasive pest and infestation can occur at any time (not predictive).