I am starting to see a disturbing number of home inspection claims brought against home inspectors by non-client home sellers who are blaming home inspectors for the failure of their clients to follow through on the Agreement of Sale as a consequence of the inspector’s findings. I am hoping that this trend is secondary to the very depressed real estate market that we are currently experiencing and will not survive beyond the eventual market recovery.

Some of these frustrated sellers completely lose control of their senses and foolishly decide to vent their fury at the home inspector in inappropriate ways. In one case, for example, the aggrieved home seller filed a complaint against the home inspector with the state board that oversees the licensure of home inspectors claiming that the home inspector had “several false finding and inaccurate statements of the existing condition on his home. In your report you stated a retaining wall was on his property which is not, you also reported an HVAC unit as hazard when it is in excellent working condition. You further listed termite infestation which owner states there is no infestation.” Sic.

Needless to say, for a home inspector this can be an agita-inducing development. And one that has to be squashed with extreme prejudice. As a professional, you can not indulge a hothead home seller who is making false accusations about you before a licensure board. And this inspector did not.

I wrote to the seller’s attorney and advised him that, although his client may have been disappointed that the result of the inspector’s report – which had catalogued the property’s myriad defects – was that the inspector’s client exercised his right to abrogate the Agreement of Sale, the seller’s ill-advised and vindictive filing of a false complaint against the inspector was an inappropriate way of venting his anger.

I also pointed out that, if the complaint was not immediately withdrawn with prejudice, it would also prove to have been a very foolish and expensive indulgence on the seller’s part, as well, because of the magnitude of damages that are available to business professionals in defamation cases.

The letter had an immediate sobering effect on both the seller and his attorney who faxed me upon receipt a letter advising me that the complaint would be withdrawn. This is a valuable piece of home inspector training.

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