Client Mad About Mice Droppings

Yesterday a client called me about their home I inspected in March. They just moved in and they have mice. They told me that the exterminator I used did not do his job. I told them he was there for WDO and not mice.

They said they called Orkin, the Orkin tech went into the attic and found a lot of mouse droppings.
They said the tech told them the home inspector should have seen this.

This is my narrative about the attic in the report.
Personal item storage prevented a full visual inspection of the attic areas at the time of inspection. Further evaluation would require the removal or disturbance of occupant’s personal belongings, which is not performed. Should the house be vacated, for an additional fee, we can return to provide a better visual inspection of areas that may have been hidden, covered, or concealed at the time of the original inspection.

During the conversation the client mentioned that I should pay for the treatment of the mice.

Please advise.

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You explained why You could not inspect the attic, You can not see what You can not see. Obviously they did not call You for an inspection when the attic was emptied…

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Love that line from other trades. They are seeing the home in a whole different condition from when you were there. I would let the client know that.

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Another frivolous claim. Why should a home inspector report on rodents? Isn’t it nice that a non-home inspector knows what you should do. Typical case of the last man in theory. Your report covers you. I wouldn’t pay, tell them to read the report’

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Probably worth mentioning to the client that the doors were likely propped open for significant amounts of time during the move out/move in process. That can be a great time for mice to gain entry into the home.

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I wouldn’t offer any explanation. That just prolongs the complaint. The attic was disclaimed for a valid reason. What the exterminator says is nonsense. Let him offer an explanation for the mice presence, that’s his job.

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Simply put, we are Home Inspectors and not Pest Control Inspectors. Nothing in the SOP states we have to mention evidence of pest, even though most do. If I do see it, I refer it on. If I don’t or can’t see it, not up to me. Do what you think is best for your situation, but you’re not liable to pay anything.

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The Nachi SOP states:

The inspector is not required to determine the presence of evidence of rodents, birds, bats, animals, insects, or other pests.

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(5) Required Reporting.
(a) The home inspection report shall include the following:

  1. A report on any system or component inspected that, in the opinion of the home
    inspector, is significantly deficient;
  2. A list of any systems or components that were designated for inspection in this
    rule but that were not inspected;
  3. The reason a system or component listed in accordance with part (5)(a)2. was
    not inspected;
  4. A statement that the report does not address environmental hazards, including:
    (i) Lead-based paint;
    (ii) Radon;
    (iii) Asbestos;
    (iv) Cockroaches;
    (v) Rodents;
    (vi) Pesticides;
    (vii) Treated lumber;
    (viii) Fungus;
    (ix) Mercury;

Does your report state this?

And this comes from where? Got It! Never mind, it’s included in mine. :wink:

I agree with Jim, Bob and Randy.

For me, the pest inspectors at my inspections always call out the presence of rodent or rodent activity, even though they are only there for WDO.
Just curious, did your pest tech go into the attic? And how do you know what he told the client?

MY BUG GUY SAYS YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN THAT

Love how they come in after the fact & pound their chests.
I had one with BEES discovered 4 months later, wanted me to pay thousands to cut open walls/ceilings.
OH this national company said they need MORE insulation for another $4K.
I offered them NOTHING. Feel bad for them but nothing.

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“The home inspector should have seen this cloud!!!”

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I’m sorry ma’am or sir that the sellers didn’t disclose the presence of rodents. Upon reviewing the report. We noted that there was a significant amount of personal items at the time of our inspection that prevented access to the area in question. We offered to return to inspect those areas once those items were removed. Once again I’m sorry you have to take care of that. Bye bye now have a great day.

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“Ma’am, would you mind sending over our SOP to the “Tech” so he does not continue to misinform his customers about what a home inspector does and does not do.”

“Also, while you have him, please ask him if he reported on the condition of the electrical panel during his pest inspection”.

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In my area, if I didn’t see some type of droppings in the attic, I’d have to write it up as suspicious.

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This is why photos go a long way.

Your inspection was a point in time. And you did not have access to the attic. Case closed.

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Contract and conditions at the inspection have you covered but despite SOPs I ALWAYS note the slightest sign of rodents and mention they could be in other places that can’t be seen if/when I encounter them. Rodents are a hot button issue that buyers just freak out over (and remediation/cleaning is ultra-expensive).

I totally get that if you saw nothing and couldn’t see where they’re at you can’t report on it and shouldn’t be held liable. I’m just saying as HIs, ignoring rodents or signs (again, if/when we can see them) since it’s technically outside our scope is sure to make your phone ring and your E/O carrier upset. Fwiw, I mention E/O carrier because at a class a couple years ago (pretty sure it was Joe Denneler and Ben Garrison who cover a lot of us here) they reported hearing a lot of claims due to rodents. After that class I personally changed all my rodent-related comments to include “further evaluation to determine the extent of the problem and to perform the necessary treatment and sanitation.” Again, technically outside our scope but not a hill I want to die on trying to defend.

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