What to do about a faulty termite inspection?

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What to do about a faulty termite inspection?

We bought a house 3 years ago and had a whole house inspection as well as termite inspection. The inspections came up with no termites or damage or supposedly any sign. We ended up having another termite inspection last year and ended up there being years worth of damage behind the drywall and the window sill in our bathroom and our children’s bedroom. So we paid $800 to get the termite treatment. So fast forward to today and we our demolishing the drywall in a bedroom and notice more termite damage, and low and behold a brand new stud, which in turn means someone knew about the damage. The damage is extensive, throughout house and I need to know if we can go back on the previous homeowner and the inspectors?

Asked on January 6, 2013 under Real Estate Law, Ohio

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The new stud would indicate that the seller knew of the termite damage.

You would file one lawsuit against the seller and termite inspector with separate causes of action (claims).  You would have one cause of action for fraud against the seller and the other cause of action for negligence against the termite inspector.

Fraud is the intentional misrepresentation of a material fact made with knowledge of its falsity and with the intent to induce your reliance upon which you justifiably relied to your detriment.  In other words, you would not have purchased the house had you known of the extensive termite damage.  Fraud also includes nondisclosure of a material fact by the seller which you as the buyer could not have reasonably discovered prior to purchasing the house.

Your damages (monetary compensation you are seeking in a lawsuit for fraud) would be either the benefit of the bargain or your out of pocket loss.

Benefit of the bargain means that a defrauded purchaser can recover the difference between the real and represented value of the property regardless of the fact that the actual loss suffered might have been less.

Out of pocket determination of damages for fraudulent misrepresentation permits recovery of the difference between the price paid and the actual value of the property acquired.

Your claim against the termite inspector would be for negligence.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable termite inspector would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).  Your damages (monetary compensation for negligence) would be the cost of repairs to your house.

You will need to file your lawsuit prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.


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