Termite Facts and Home Purchase Inspections in Maryland
Termites are common in homes throughout Maryland, particularly in older buildings that are constructed primarily from wood. A colony of termites can contain thousands of specimens, and is capable of causing irreparable damage if allowed to grow unchecked. Because of how destructive termites can be, Maryland laws require real estate sellers to disclose information about termites to potential home buyers. The Baltimore termite damage and real estate lawyers of Whitney, LLP explain some basic information about Maryland’s termite disclosure regulations, including some important termite facts that homeowners should be aware of.
Termite Facts Homeowners Should Know
If there’s wood in your house (and we’re assuming there is), your property isn’t guaranteed to be safe from termites. While you might think there’s no way an infestation could ever take hold on your property, the reality is that termite infestations can remain hidden until they have already reached massive proportions, by which point they are extremely difficult – and costly – to eradicate.
As a homeowner, your best line of defense against termites is knowledge: understanding how they function and what to look for if you’re concerned about termites in your building. Here are some important termite facts that every Maryland homeowner should know:
- Termites get their nourishment from cellulose, which is found in wood (and certain types of plants). Termites will eat almost any type of wood in your home, with a special preference for wood that has become soft or spongey with moisture-induced rot.
- Termites naturally grow and shed wings during their life cycles. If you spot discarded insect wings around your house, especially in large piles or groups, you can be all but certain that termites have invaded your space.
- Though small in size, termites leave visible “frass” (excrement) behind. The frass piles up in small, conical hills and has a brown, pellet-like appearance.
- In certain termite species, the queen can lay tens of thousands of eggs per day. Because of the immense speed with which termites reproduce, it is critical to intervene against an infestation as early as possible.
Termite Disclosure Laws When Purchasing a Home in Maryland
Whenever a property owner wishes to sell a residential property in Maryland, such as a single-family home or a condominium unit, he or she is legally required to notify the potential buyer of certain hazards or defects on the property. To some extent, the detail of the disclosure is determined by which form the seller decides to use:
- Maryland Residential Property Disclaimer Statement
- Maryland Residential Property Disclosure Statement
The disclosure form has more rigorous requirements, calling for “yes” or “no” answers to various questions about specific defects and deficiencies. The disclaimer form is more vague, because the seller is not required to make any “representations or warranties about the condition of the property.”
This may lead sellers to assume that, as long as they use the disclaimer form, they are not responsible for disclosing the current or previous presence of termites and resulting wood or structural damage. However, this is a misconception. Even sellers who use the disclaimer form are still required to disclose “latent defects,” which happen to include termite infestations.
For context, a “latent defect” is defined under Md. Code Ann., Real Prop. § 10-702 to mean any significant defect that would not be observable through a visual inspection, and which would compromise the health or safety of the buyer. In addition to termites, other “latent defects” include asbestos, electrical hazards, radon, and lead-based paint.
Regardless of whether a real estate seller uses the disclaimer statement or disclosure statement, he or she must disclose information about termites, as they are considered to a be a latent defect. Unfortunately, there are still cases in which unethical sellers intentionally conceal a known termite infestation in order to sell the property at a higher value. Real estate sellers who disregard Md. Code Ann., Real Prop. § 10-702 are in violation of the law, and can be held financially responsible for any property damage or destruction that results. In other words, home buyers can sue real estate sellers who hide information about termites in order to recoup their home repair and property replacement expenses.
Lawyers for Termite Damage Claims in Baltimore, MD
Whitney, LLP offers free initial consultation for homeowners whose properties have been damaged by termite infestations.
As a homeowner, you have legal rights. Let Whitney, LLP help you exercise them. We represent homeowners against negligent sellers and termite and pest inspection companies. To talk about getting compensated for termite property damage in Baltimore or other areas of Maryland, contact the law offices of Whitney, LLP at (410) 583-8000 for a free legal consultation today, or use our Quick Contact Form.