10 year carpenter ant colony found in newly purchased home. What legal recourse do we have in regards to structural damage?

Asked by Rebecca, Stillwater, MN Wed Jul 6, 2011

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Chris Block, , Saint Paul, MN
Wed Jul 6, 2011
1) Typically whenever a purchase agreement is signed you decide to agree to arbitration or not.
2) From there you have the sellers disclosure
3) Did you have an inspection

I am guessing the ant colony was not so obvious that you could catch it before purchasing the property (duh). If you could not visually see it then it will be hard to prove the homeowner, your agent, or the listing agent knew about this. "Material facts" is the legal term.

Go seek legal advice but it does not look good.
1 vote
Ron Thomas, Agent, Fresno, CA
Wed Jul 6, 2011
From what I know, the answer to that is simple;
Did you have a Pest Inspection?

Remembering that I am not a lawyer, nor do I pretend to be:
We give our Clients a document to sign, when we begin an offer; It urges clients to get inspections.

My guess is that you have bought an ant hill.
But do not take my word for it.
The chickens are all out now, but I would suggest a Pest Inspection now, so that you know the extent of your problem.
THEN, go see a lawyer.

Good luck and may God bless
1 vote
Tom Ott, Agent, Woodbury, MN
Wed Oct 26, 2011
Really an answer that should only be fielded by competent legal counsel.
0 votes
Michael Emery, , Minneapolis, MN
Wed Jul 6, 2011
And to add my two cents, if you and the sellers both signed an arbitration agreement you would have to use an arbitrator rather than suing them for damages. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as it costs a heck of a lot less than a lawsuit. But if both parties agreed to arbitration then your legal options are limited.
0 votes
Cameron Piper, Agent, Forest Lake, MN
Wed Jul 6, 2011

I agree with Jennifer and would suggest that your only hope of any sort of recourse (in my non-attorney opinion) would be found in the seller's property disclosure. If they disclosed it and you missed it, you are likely sunk. If they didn't disclose it, the trouble you will likely have will be to prove that they knew about it as MN disclosure law is to the best of the seller's knowledge. Talk to the neighbors, call the former homeowner's and do a little research with them, call a couple of local pest control companies and see if the seller's ever had anyone out to the house - who knows, you might get lucky.

Cameron Piper
Coldwell Banker Burnet
licensed MN Broker
Web Reference:  http://www.campiper.com
0 votes
Jennifer Kir…, Agent, Minneapolis, MN
Wed Jul 6, 2011
Hi Rebecca,

Legal recourse requires the advice of a lawyer. You should also check to see if you and the previous owner signed the Arbitration Agreement.

It will depend on whether the home owner knew of a carpenter ant colony or not. The Seller's Disclosure in Minnesota is only for "known" issues with the home.

Home inspections will not always turn up problems, as the inspection is only for things/problems the inspector can see at the time of inspection. We don't have Pest Inspections in Minnesota like other states.

Jennifer Kirby
Kirby Fine Homes
0 votes
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