A Court Ruled In Favor Of A Woman Who Hid Termite Damage In Order To Sell A Home | Phoenix Termite Control
Imagine finding termite damage in a home that you had just purchased. Such a find would come as a major disappointment to any new home owner. It is for this reason that termite inspections are a must before purchasing a home. Now imagine finding signs of termite damage in your new home after being explicitly told by the previous owners that the home had no history of termite infestations or termite-induced damages. This, of course, is a very different situation, and most courts would find the previous owners to be at fault for not disclosing the home’s history of termite infestations. Sadly, this is not always the case, as one couple from Arizona understands all too well. Losing cases such as these does not occur often, and when they do occur, critics often regard the verdicts as miscarriages of justice, or as misinterpretations of real estate law.
Back in 1982, a married couple, Warren and Gloria Hill, purchased a seventy two thousand dollar home. The couple visited the home several times. During one of these visits, the couple noticed a ripple in the home’s hardwood floor that resembled termite damage. After asking the seller if the damage was caused by termites, she answered “no”, and claimed that water damage had been responsible. Although, the buyers recognized the ripple as being consistent with termite damage, they trusted the seller, as a termite inspection had already determined the home to be free of termite activity during the entirety of its existence.
Shortly after the deal closed, the new owners discovered a manual that the sellers had left behind in a drawer. This manual bore the title: Termites, the Silent Saboteurs. This unsettling find made the new owners suspicious, so they decided to dig up the home’s old inspection reports. The old reports confirmed that the home had been infested with termites several times since it was built. The suspicious ripple also turned out to be termite damage that had been inflicted while the sellers inhabited the home. The new owners quickly filed a lawsuit, but they lost after the judge ruled that the sellers had no duty to disclose the past termite infestations. In fact, the new homeowners were even forced to pay for the seller’s court costs, which amounted to one thousand dollars. This ruling ran contrary to precedents that had been established in previous Arizona cases. Not only that, but this case is also often cited by legal experts as being an error in judgement, as the sellers were bound by law to disclose the past termite infestations to the buyers.
Have you, or someone else you know, ever had to attend court over undisclosed termite damage to a home?