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Can a Buyer Sue a Seller for Bed Bugs after Closing on the Sale of a Property?

by Janice

I see plenty of lawsuits against landlords by tenants, but what about a buyer suing a seller of a property they knew was infested?

I recently purchased a 3 unit (2 of them occupied) building only to find out it had bed bugs. (We did a through inspection, but bed bugs are not something an inspector commonly looks for, so we did not see any evidence of the bugs).

We learned that the problem was long term, that the tenants had complained to the previous owner who did nothing about it, and one tenant went to far as to say he was told not to mention it to us as prospective buyers. So far it's cost us about $4000 in pest control costs and lost rental income on the vacant apartment (I can't knowing rent it with this problem). And it's still ongoing, so the cost could go up. Do I have a case to sue the previous owner?

Editor Comment - Buying a Bed Bug Infested Property

Hi Janice,

I am not a lawyer, but I can provide you with some general information that may be helpful. If you suspect that the seller of a property knowingly concealed a material defect, such as a bed bug infestation, you may have grounds for a lawsuit based on fraud or misrepresentation. Generally, sellers have a duty to disclose known defects that could significantly affect the property's value or a buyer's decision to purchase.

n Illinois, sellers are required to complete a Residential Real Property Disclosure Report when selling a residential property. This report must disclose any known material defects, including any pest infestations.

In a case like this, you would typically need to establish that:

The seller knew about the bed bug infestation and failed to disclose it.
The infestation was a material fact that would have affected your decision to purchase the property.

You suffered damages as a result of the seller's failure to disclose the infestation, such as pest control costs and lost rental income.

Given the facts you provided, it's possible that you may have a case against the previous owner. However, this is a complex area of law that varies by jurisdiction. It would be best to consult with a local real estate attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation and determine the best course of action.

Remember that this information is general in nature and not intended as legal advice. To obtain advice specific to your situation, consult with a qualified attorney in your jurisdiction.

Best of Luck,

Editor and Publisher
Bed Bugs Handbook

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