Between our attorney, the seller, and termites, I like the termites best!
June 3, 2012 11:14 AM   Subscribe

Can we get the previous owner to pay up for termite treatment? Two years later? Details inside.

Two years ago we bought our home in NJ. Our home inspector recommended getting the house treated for termites, so we had our attorney add that to the list of things for the seller to fix before we bought the house. After such things had been taken care of, we bought the house. A month ago we got swarmers, which means termites have been active in our house anywhere from 3-5 years. I got a couple of quotes, and all of the companies said there was no evidence of previous treatment (no holes drilled in porch, no ditches dug for the chemical gel, etc.) It's looking like two years ago, the seller skipped out on the termite treatment. We didn't know any better and didn't know what to look for, and our attorney was pretty useless all around.

Is this something we should go after the seller for, or is he likely off the hook because we bought the house anyway? The only record we have of asking for the treatment is in a letter to the seller from our then-attorney.

Of course, this comes up just after we decide we're going to put our house up for sale and move to NC!
posted by InsanePenguin to Home & Garden (2 answers total)
I think you need to ask your attorney, because their obligation depends on both the real estate laws in your jurisdiction and the actual terms of the agreement you had with the sellers. We can't give you legal advice about your specific situation, but your attorney should be able to tell you exactly what obligations the sellers had/have and what recourse you might have now.
posted by decathecting at 11:16 AM on June 3, 2012

Consult a lawyer, ignore what I say etc.

In NJ, it depends on your sales agreement but based on your hiring an inspector and their recommending termite treatment it sounds like you (buyer) had the obligation to check the house, and the seller had an obligation to pay for damages up to X, which they did. It's suggested you get a proper termite inspection and not just a general inspection because termite inspections are much more likely to catch these things.

You might go down these avenues of thought with your new lawyer:

Is the termite treatment co. responsible for failing to treat this?

Did the seller make a false claim about the history of treatment?

If you go after the seller, what are your odds of getting a settlement whether or not you have a case? (Just speaking practically here.)

Was your lawyer just a regular dud or did he commit legal malpractice?
posted by michaelh at 11:30 AM on June 3, 2012

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