Should I tell them about the alleged rats?

Real Estate Agent with Better Homes & Gardens Rand Realty, Monroe NY Real Estate, 914-419-0270, 10301213186

I was showing apartments recently to a young couple, who were looking for a rental property for themselves and their young child.  I was meeting them at the first property, and then we were looking at several afterwards.  I happened to arrive a bit early and went to open the door to check out the place prior to my clients' arrival.  Since the neighbors who lived in the other half of the two family home were sitting outside, I introduced myself and told them I was showing the apartment and then said,

"So, how do you enjoy living here?"

They didn't answer for a few seconds, and then all jumped in.

  • "It's horrible - we had a bed bug problem and the landlord didn't take care of it"
  • "We share the basement and there are rats down there."
  • "Yeah, there are rats and no one takes care of the problem."
  • "We're moving too as soon as we can afford to."

ratI thanked them for their input and then went inside (cautiously) and looked around.  It was a decent sized two bedroom rental, with a large kitchen, but I noticed several issues.  There was not one closet in the entire apartment.  Not in the bedrooms, not in the bathroom, not in the hall, not in the kitchen.  There were kitchen cabinets, and a wire shelf to use as a pantry but not one closet.  Also, in the one bathroom which was upstairs, you had to step over the toilet to get into the bathroom.  Strange. 

My clients arrived.  I represent them; I don't represent the landlord.  So I met them at the door, and said, "The good news is, the rooms are large and bright, and you have access to the attic and basement as well.  The bad news is, there are no closets and the neighbors indicated they were moving soon.  They indicated there are rats in the basement and bed bug issues."  The clients looked around quickly, agreed the closets and potential rats were an issue, and we went on to look at different rentals.

I then had another potential client call me with interest in the same rental.  I faced a brief dilemma.  Do I tell them also?  Do I not and wait till they are an official client?  I told them.  I couldn't in good conscience show someone an apartment that had issues.  BUT, they were alleged issues.  I didn't see the rat(s).  In fact, I refused to go in the basement.  Maybe they were there.  Maybe not.  I figured if my clients and potential clients had an interest in renting it anyway, at least I'd disclosed what I'd been told.

What would you have done? 

Posted by


Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat

Licensed Associate Broker, CBR®

Better Homes & Gardens Rand Realty

Monroe, NY Real Estate

914-419-0270 (cell)


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Raymond E. Camp
Nothnagle - Ontario, NY
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester

As they used to say in "Dragnet" "Nothing but the facts Maam"

Apr 15, 2012 05:37 AM #1
Peter den Boer
Atlanta Communities - Woodstock, GA
MBA,GRI,ABR, SRES, Associate Broker, Realtor

Kat - I would have disclosed the problem but told them that I heard it from the neighbors. If they still wanted to go see the property then I would show it.

Apr 15, 2012 05:41 AM #2
Ed & Tracy Oliva
West USA Realty - Arizona - Pinetop Lakeside, AZ
Arizona Agents

Kat; I Think you did the right thing, I would stay away from the issue and look for another rental to show,good luck with your business in 2012..  E

Apr 15, 2012 05:56 AM #3
Leslie G. Rojohn
MoonDancer Realty - Sylva, NC
GRI, ABR ~ MoonDancer Realty

Well the complete lack of closets and the stepping over the toilet would be enough for me and are actual facts you have observed.  The neighbors could just want the place to themselves and are talking rats to keep people away.

Apr 15, 2012 06:08 AM #4
Jeanne & Ralph Janisch ABR CRS Brokers
The Durango Home Team - Durango, CO
Selling Durango CO homes to good people like you!

That's exactly what you should have done.  We have to disclose material facts to buyers.  Even though they were alleged. The buyer then can make up their own mind whether or not to proceed with further investigation.

Apr 15, 2012 06:10 AM #5
Jim Palmer
Chipola Realty - Chipley Office (850) 638-2777 - Sunny Hills, FL
Washington County, Florida

I would say that you handled it correctly. If you disclosed it to the first client, then you should disclose it to all others as well. I would caution the caller though that you heard it from the neighbors and let them decide whether to see the apartment.

Apr 15, 2012 06:12 AM #6
Than Maynard
Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma - Purcell, OK
Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862

As long as you tell them you heard it from the neighbor and let them know the neighbor could be lying there isn't anything else to do. But, stepping over the toilet to get into the bathroom would seal the deal for me.

Apr 15, 2012 06:25 AM #7
Mark Loewenberg
KW of the Palm Beaches - Palm Beach Gardens, FL
KW 561-214-0370

once folks share with us we are obligated to share with eveyone, but it may be worth saying that you heard it but had not spoken with the landlord's agent or landlord to confirm this...

Apr 15, 2012 06:26 AM #8
Jon Eliason
EXIT Realty Advantage Pagosa, Pagosa Springs, Colorado - Pagosa Springs, CO

Kat ~ Disclosure is everything! No Closets??? Out here, any "Bedroom" without a closet cannot be called a bedroom. As for the rumors, hearsay or innuendo, I myself, would look for evidence to that effect. Stepping over a toilet to get into the bathroom would quickly turn me around. WOW!   :)

Apr 15, 2012 06:27 AM #9
Richard and Beth Witt
Keller Williams Elite Realty 516-795-6900 - Massapequa, NY
Broker/Owner RE/MAX Wittney Estates Long Island NY

Hey Kat... all I can say is good job!...  I like Mark's suggestion about "I heard it"... who knows maybe the tenants are fibbing...

Apr 15, 2012 07:53 AM #10
Kat Palmiotti
Better Homes & Gardens Rand Realty, Monroe NY Real Estate, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

Raymond - Thanks for stopping by.  So your vote would be not to mention it until I see it myself...  Icky thought!

Peter - Thanks!  I did tell them it was the neighbors who told me.

Ed - There were other choices so that was a good thing.  Sometimes there aren't (depending on their needs) so that would have been a worse situation.

Leslie - I was thinking perhaps there was another reason the neighbors were saying that, but the apartment really wasn't nice enough to have been in big demand.  I was wondering though whether they may have had a personal issue with the landlord.

Jeanne/Ralph - I think as long as I also disclosed the source of the info, then they could make up their own mind.  Thanks for stopping by.

Jim - True, they could then make up their own mind.  I can't feel bad if they move in after hearing the alleged details (and then the alleged details wind up to be true).

Than - The bathroom was really strange.  You had to go up a step to get INTO the bathroom, and the toilet was right there, sticking out into the doorway.  Very very wierd.

Mark - True, I didn't hear it from the landlord.  Perhaps I should contact the landlord's agent and let him/her know what the neighbors are saying.

Jon - You can't call it a bedroom here either without a closet and window, so I don't know what the deal was either.  Very odd.  Yes, you're right, evidence would have been better but I couldn't bring myself to walk down into the basement.  Funny thing is, my clients didn't want to go down there either.



Apr 15, 2012 07:53 AM #11
Kat Palmiotti
Better Homes & Gardens Rand Realty, Monroe NY Real Estate, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

Richard/Beth - Yes, that's true, they may be fibbing.  I did mention the source of the alleged problem.  Hopefully no one else will call about the same unit.  Thanks for stopping by!

Apr 15, 2012 07:55 AM #12
Christine Smith
Buyers Brokers Only LLC - - Canton, MA
Exclusive Buyer Agent & Attorney, Canton, MA
Kat...I would have told them what I had heard too.
Apr 15, 2012 04:24 PM #13
Kat Palmiotti
Better Homes & Gardens Rand Realty, Monroe NY Real Estate, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

Christine - I would have felt awful if I hadn't, they rented the place, and then had a rat problem.  Ick.

Apr 16, 2012 03:33 AM #14
Kathryn Acciari
RE/MAX Professional Associates, with offices in Sturbridge, Charlton, Auburn, Spencer, and Shrewsbury - Sturbridge, MA
Realtor - Sturbridge MA Real Estate

I've had neighbors claim they owned part of the street, that a house for sale had water pouring into the basement, that a tenant was growing illegal substances.  Get the facts.  Those rats may have been mice, or simply disgruntled tenants.

Apr 17, 2012 03:16 AM #15
Kat Palmiotti
Better Homes & Gardens Rand Realty, Monroe NY Real Estate, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

Kathryn - True, it might not be true.  But since they mentioned it, I did feel obligated to share with my clients.  Thanks for sharing your feedback!

Apr 17, 2012 03:22 AM #16
Dawn A Fabiszak
Private Label Realty ( Denver metro area, Colorado - Aurora, CO
The Dawn of a New Real Estate Experience!

Kat ~ no closets????  Where do you hang clothes and coats?  Maybe there was a rodent problem hiding in the old closets??????  I think I would have stated to the caller that the apartment was lacking closets and you would have to step over the toilet to get into the bathroom, and that the adjoining neighbor to this unit was not happy with the place and stated that there was a "potential rat problem & a bed bug issue".

I also would have gotten out of there as quick as possible!

Apr 17, 2012 01:07 PM #17
Kat Palmiotti
Better Homes & Gardens Rand Realty, Monroe NY Real Estate, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

Dawn - that would have been a better response.  Anyway, I have to tell you, once I heard about bed bugs, even though there was no furniture or draperies in the place, I was itching like crazy.  I could just picture bugs jumping from the carpet onto my ankles.  EWWWWW.  And I opened a door, saw it was the basement (leading down a bunch of dark, scary steps) and I just closed the doors and waited outside for them.  :-)

Apr 17, 2012 01:56 PM #18

quote Jiminy Cricket, "Always let your Conscience be your guide!"

Dec 05, 2012 10:40 PM #19
Kat Palmiotti
Better Homes & Gardens Rand Realty, Monroe NY Real Estate, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

Jiminy Cricket quoter:   True, that's true.  And I did, so I'm good.

Dec 06, 2012 03:00 AM #20
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Kat Palmiotti

The House Kat