Presence of Scorpions Wasn't Noted

  Question:  Before we purchased our home in Casa Grande last year, we had a home inspection and a termite inspection.  Both showed no problems.  In addition, the seller disclosed nothing about scorpions in the disclosure form.  On the day that we moved in, however, we saw a scorpion crawling across the carpet in the living room.  Although we have a pest control company come every month, we are still finding two to three scorpions a week.  The pest control company says that if we replace our wood shingled roof with a new roof, this scorpion problem might be corrected.  The cost will be over $9,000.  We would never have bought this home had we known of this scorpion problem because I am very allergic to any type of insect sting.  When I telephoned the seller, the seller said that he did not have any responsibility for this scorpion problem because he had only seen two scorpion in the four years that he had owned the home.  Does the seller have any responsibility for their nondisclosure of scorpions?

  Answer:  The seller has the obligation to disclose to a buyer any material and adverse fact about a home that a reasonable buyer would want to know.  When I am asked by a seller about whether a particular problem should be disclosed, I say, “If it is material, it must be disclosed; if it is not material, why not disclose it?”

  Two scorpions in four year, however, is probably not a material problem.  On the other hand, two or three scorpions a week is probably a material problem.  If the seller knew of two or three scorpions a week, the seller could be liable to you for damages such as the $9,000 cost for a new roof.  You should try to find out if a pest control company had treated the home for the scorpions before, and contact neighbors to see if any had knowledge of the scorpion problem, perhaps because of complaints by the seller.

  In addition, you should contact someone with expertise in pest control to inspect the home who could then testify that that seller must have known about this material problem before selling the home.  If you find any evidence that the seller knew of this scorpion problem, you should contact an attorney.

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