Honey, do you hear that? What is that noise!? It almost sounds like something is … CRAWLING INSIDE THE WALLS!!
It’s your first time finally spending the night in your new home after a long wait during the closing process. All you want to do is get a good night’s rest and dream about all of the good times you are about to enjoy in your new home. Instead, in the middle of the night your loved one wakes you up in a panic with this terrifying question. You listen closely, press your ear against the wall, and come to the haunting conclusion that something is alive inside your walls!! As your imagination runs wild with visions of the horrifying monsters sharing your beautiful new home, you are overcome with fear and anger over how you could possibly find yourself in this situation! We would have never bought this house! Talk about a nightmare!!
Few surprises could be scarier for a home buyer than the nightmare scenario described above. What sounds like the makings of a Halloween horror story can unfortunately become an all too scary reality if appropriate precautions are not undertaken at the very outset of entering into a contract to purchase a home. Neither the “Standard” nor “As Is” versions of the FAR/BAR Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase specifically address issues involving infestations of rodents, bats, bees, or similar pests (or ghosts). While Section 9 of the Standard Contract provides that the Seller shall pay up to a certain amount for Wood Destroying Organisms (“WDO” ) treatment and repairs, WDO does not include any of the pests described in this BLOG; rather, WDO specifically refers to organisms such as termites, beetles and wood-decaying fungi, among others. Similarly, the AS IS contract makes no mention of the types of pests described in this BLOG. But do not fear! By following these few easy tips, home buyers and their representatives can sleep tight and free of those creepy crawly creatures that go bump in the night:
- When using the Standard Contract, consider adding an addendum stating that the provisions of Section 9 (a)(ii) — the section dealing with WDO treatments and repairs — shall apply equally to costs and expenses associated with treatment and repairs required to remedy infestations of rodents, bats, insects, etc. By adding this language to the contract, the Seller will be obligated to address these issues up to a certain dollar amount or percentage of the purchase price.
- When using either contract, stress the importance of having a licensed pest inspector inspect the home. A typical home inspector is not necessarily licensed to inspect for pests, nor do they specifically search the home for pests. If the pest inspector discovers anything of concern, the buyer can either cancel the contract during their inspection period if using the AS IS Contract, or request that the Seller address the issue if using the Standard Contract with the addendum mentioned above included. Paying the price for a pest inspection is a relatively nominal expense in order to avoid the scenario described above and obtain some peace of mind.
As always, if you need assistance with drafting contractual language to address this, or any other issues, we recommend you contact your trusted local real estate attorney.