As a real estate agent, you undoubtedly are committed to providing a full spectrum of professional services to your clients who depend on you to sell your home in a timely manner and for an appropriate price. As a real estate agent, you are called upon by your clients with some regularity to help them maneuver through issues associated with their properties. For example, you may have a residential seller client who has or had an issue with rodent infestation and rodent droppings cleanup. If that is the case, there are some important facts and factors that you need to bear in mind.
Your Residential Seller Client and California Disclosure Requirements
California law, as is the case in all other states, establishes specific disclosures that must be made by a home seller to a buyer. These disclosures include such matters as advising of the presence of lead paint at the premises to a spectrum of natural disaster advisements to information about death in the residence in the past three years.
California disclosures do not specifically mandate a home seller disclose a prior or even existing rodent infestation issue at a residence. While a specific disclosure of a rodent issue at the premises may not be required, California seller’s disclosure law has what can be called a catchall provision.
Under California law, a seller needs to disclose any material issue in a residence that reasonably could be expected to impact a prospective buyer’s decision to purchase a property. This is an area in which your expertise as a real estate agent truly comes into play. An element of objectivity comes into play in ascertaining whether there is an issue at a client’s home that is material and would impact a prospective buyer’s purchasing decision.
By way of example, take a situation in which a person died a notorious death in a client’s home beyond the three-year cutoff line for mandatory disclosure under California law. Because the death was notorious for one reason or another, that notoriety fairly could be considered a material fact that reasonably could impact a purchaser’s buying decision if he or she was made aware of the situation.
Discovery of a Rodent Infestation or Rodent Droppings Unknown to Your Client
A situation you may face as a real estate agent is one in which a rodent infestation is discovered in the residence after you’ve been retained by a homeowner. Technically this is not something that California law mandates disclosure to a protective buyer. However, the specific circumstances may suggest the need for disclosing a rodent issue in a residence heading to the market for sale or on the market already.
If a rodent issue does seem truly minimal, and was taken care of by a professional, the need to disclose to a prospective buyer becomes less of an issue. Your client is likely to rely upon you to assist in making this determination.
In the final analysis, when it comes to disclosing something like a rodent issue, it is better to err on the side of caution. What that means is that your client is likely to better served by being as forthcoming as possible with a prospective buyer.
When there is or has been a rodent infestation at a client’s residence, it is vital that the associated rodent droppings are fully cleaned up. Rodent droppings not only are not something a seller wants a buyer to see but also potential health hazards.
Discovery of a Rodent Infestation or Rodent Droppings Your Client Concealed
If you discover that your client has been concealing an existing or recent rodent infestation in the property, that should serve as a more global red flag for you as a real estate agent. A client that is concealing a rodent issue might conceal other issues. As a licensed professional, you have a level or responsibility to ensure that accurate information is being provided to a prospective buyer. In such a situation in which you discover a client is concealing important information – including from you – about the state of a residence, the better part of valor might be for you to decline further representation.
A Warning About Rodent Droppings
As mentioned a moment ago, rodent droppings have the potential for being health hazards. Rodent droppings – including dry ones – can be disease vectors. What that means is that rodent droppings can carry viruses and bacteria that have the capacity for causing illness in humans. This includes potentially serious and even fatal illness.
When a seller’s home has an existing or had a recent rodent infestation, the recommended course of action is to obtain the services of a professional rodent droppings cleanup company. By engaging the services of a professional, experienced rodent droppings cleanup company, your client (and you) can rest assured that a feces issue has been safely and fully addressed.