Mice in the House
This case involves a claim for damages against the vendors, the former owners of a house. The house was located in Winnipeg and the decision was made by the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba.
It is rather clear that there were mice in the house. Before the property was listed for sale, the vendors engaged a pest control company in order to rid the house of mice.
The purchaser found that the house was attractively priced and wished to complete the purchase quickly. No independent inspection of the house was arranged.
The vendors had signed a “Sellers Property Condition Statement”. This document was delivered to the purchasers and the purchasers waived the conditions contained in the Offer and signed a statement that the “Seller’s Property Condition Statement has been received and is to the satisfaction of the purchaser.”
The relevant part of that document was as follows:
Under the heading STRUCTURAL, section number 5C of the Seller’s Property Condition Statement, it reads:
To your knowledge, during your ownership of the property, has there ever been any damage to the buildings due to wind, fire, water, moisture, insects or rodents?
To that query the defendants stated “no”.
In reviewing the case, the Trial Judge stated “Undiscovered mice found after taking possession is not a basis for this claim unless the contract or Seller’s Property Condition Statement stated otherwise.”
And, further: “……the issue was a cleaning problem requiring significant attention and not a structural one”.
Consequently, the Judge dismissed the purchasers’ claim.
In this case the sympathy rested clearly with the purchaser. The evidence and testimony of the defendants was not accepted by the Judge. There were mice and the defendants tried to cover that up. Nevertheless, the only recourse that was available in this case was a misstatement in the Sellers Property Condition Statement”.
There was no structural damage, just a cleanliness issue. So, in this case the SPCS was helpful to some degree to the vendors. They were clever enough to have avoided any other representations concerning the presence of mice.
It should be noted that there was no actual disclosure of any particular fact that transferred the risk to the purchaser. This was simply a case, where the damage was not viewed as structural. The damage to the extent that it could be classified as damage was of a temporary nature, and need not be disclosed in the structural portion of the SPCS.
Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker