Sometimes it’s the little things that cause the biggest headaches during settlement.

This was certainly the case for one unsuspecting seller when a dispute arose between himself and the buyer after the discovery of live termites in a tree stump.

In this instance, Mr Jones (not his real name) accepted an offer that was subject to a Timber Pest Inspection.

Unfortunately for Mr Jones, the inspection revealed that, even though the house was free of white ants, there was live activity in an old tree stump.

The buyer, now positive the house was infested with termites, demanded the owner pay to have the entire property treated.

However, the seller rejected the buyer’s demands on the basis that the Timber Pest Inspection Clause specified that he was only responsible to remedy termite damage or activity found within the main dwelling.

In the ensuing dispute, neither party were willing to move from their stated position.

Ultimately, the buyer refused to pay the deposit and the contract was terminated by a disappointed Mr Jones.

This story highlights the importance of ensuring that all parties are clear on their respective rights and obligations in regards to the Timber Pest Inspection Clause, namely:

  1. Ensure the Timber Pest Inspection clause pertains to the dwelling only and specified outbuildings, if these are of significant value.
  2. Ensure the buyer understands that they will have no recourse if termite activity or damage is found outside the specified structures, including in tree stumps.

By taking these simple steps you’ll go a long way to avoiding costly and annoying disputes.

Image by Aleksy Gnilenkov via Flickr.

About the Author

Peter Fletcher

Peter began his real estate career in 1985 selling tin shacks and red dirt in Kalgoorlie. Moving to Perth in 1989 he quickly moved into agency ownership. By 2006, Peter had built a thriving agency managing over 600 rental properties. He then sold the business, taking time out of the industry to complete Honours in a Bachelor of Arts. Peter is now the Managing Director of Residential Settlements in Burswood and an active Army reservist. Peter has had just one hot shower since the 10th of May 2008.