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Cat Urine Problem Surfaces After Closing - Any Advice - Who Pays for Repairs

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Weaver Realtors B55786000

Just closed a very nice property, Buyers were thrilled. Sellers had 2 cats and the property was viewed several times without any of the usual "catty smells" like litter box except for one time when the litter box was not clean. I attributed the smell at that time to the dirty litter box. The carpet through out the upstairs looked nearly new. No stains or marks on the very light tan carpet. The Buyers did have an inspection completed and no mention of a urine smell was noted.

Once the buyers moved in they started to smell urine upstairs and in the garage. Temperature went over 100 and the humidity was very high, Buyer contacted me and I contacted the seller, the sellers agreed to have a cleaning company come in and deodorize the areas where the buyers could smell the urine.  The Buyers got a black light to make sure they knew and could show the places where the urine was present so the cleaning company wouldn't miss any of the areas.

The black light revealed urine all over the carpets, in the living room there were over 30 spots, (cat urine appears bright yellow under a black light) several large areas had been treated with deodorizing chemicals already (these chemicals appear bright green under black light). The buyers then went into the 2 bedrooms and the fireplace room upstairs and they too had many areas with cat urine. The cleaning company told the buyers they could not deodorize that many areas, it wouldn't work and it would be too expensive. With the black light the urine could also be seen on the walls and the baseboards in a number of areas. Pictures were not taken because the camera would flash. Areas where large furniture sat did not have any marks.

The carpet was removed from every room upstairs, the spots on the back of the carpet were even worse than the black light showed on the carpet surface.  In one room the urine was concentrated especially in one corner and the baseboard was black on the back, the urine had wicked up into the wood paneling on the wall and rusted the carpet tack strip.

Sellers were contacted to arrange a conference call between them, the buyer and Realtor, to try to negotiate the cost of the new carpet (fortunately the wood floors below the carpet were well sealed and the urine only got down into them in a couple of areas) the replaced baseboards and what to do with the room with wood paneling.

The Sellers have stated they don't know what they are responsible for, the buyers had an inspection, they weren't aware of the cat urine when they sold it and there was no smell when they lived there.  

Posted by

Georgia A. Weaver, GREEN, CNE, CRS, GRI, 
Broker Owner and Iowa Certified General Contractor

Weaver LLC Realtors
"A Promise Made is a Promise Kept"

607 Lake Avenue
Lake Avenue
Storm Lake, IA 50588
Office 712-213-4663 (HOME)
Direct 712-291-0118


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Cathy Meyers
HomeSource Lamareaux Residential Realty - Apple Valley, CA

The Black Light is helpful.  As much as I like cats, a professional is needed. and the owner of the

cats should take responsibility for the cats.  Isn't this like a public health nuisance?

Aug 10, 2011 11:07 AM
Suzanne McLaughlin
Sabinske & Associates, Inc. (Albertville, St. Michael) - Saint Michael, MN
Sabinske & Associates, Realtor

Check with Russel Ray....cat expert and inspector extrordinaire.  If he doesn't have the answer, no one (reputable) will.  Russel is on the Rain....big time.

Aug 10, 2011 11:11 AM
Robin Dampier REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker King - Hendersonville, NC
Hendersonville & Western NC Real Estate Source

Wow, that is lot of kitty urine and so hard to believe the sellers and all others weren't aware of it!  Cat urine is pretty heady.  What a bummer for the new buyers.  It will be interesting to see how this gets settled and I agree that Russel Ray may offer some suggestions.

Sue of Robin and Sue

Aug 10, 2011 11:26 AM
Georgia Weaver
Weaver Realtors - Storm Lake, IA
A Promise Made is a Promise Kept! 712-291-0118

Thank you so much Cathy, Suzanne, Robin and Sue. I will get in touch with Russel Ray, I don't know about the health nuisance but it is pretty disgusting. I will keep updates on the blog, I sure pray it can be resolved. I really want all my clients to be happy with their purchases or sales.

Aug 11, 2011 10:07 AM
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

First, it sounds like the cleaning company doesn’t have confidence in its own products: “The cleaning company told the buyers they could not deodorize that many areas, it wouldn't work…”

That’s true for what regular cleaning companies use. For cat and dog urine, you need a cleaning company that specializes in cat and dog urine. The second part of the quote above: “…and it would be too expensive.” indicates that they know that there are cleaning companies specializing in cat/dog urine but that they don’t want to be one of them, yet at the same time they don’t want to admit that what they normally do won’t work in the long-term.

I refer a company here for urine but they don’t travel to Iowa . LLLL

It is possible that the Sellers didn’t know about the urine even though they have two cats. If they bought the house from previous cat owners, it could be the previous cat owners who would be to blame. How long were the current Sellers there? What’s the gender of the current Sellers’ cats? Males are the ones who like to mark their territories. If the current Sellers have female cats that are as old, or older, than the number of years the Sellers owned the property, it’s a good possibility that the problem was previous owners before the current Sellers.

I've been to many a home where the Sellers had no pets (doesn't mean that they didn't previously have pets, or have visiting pets) but when the house was closed up for a while, the urine odor was unmistakeable. Have also seen the teenage boys have a little fun while mom and dad were gone.

See Steven’s short post which I refer my Clients to quite often: http://activerain.com/blogsview/302437/pet-urine-odor-problems

Added with edit: I forgot my mother-in-law's tried and true method. She has been through male and female cats and kittens for 50 years, and this is her remedy:

Mix 3 parts water with one part vinegar and saturate the spot. Dry thoroughly. Once dry, sprinkle the area with Baking Soda. Next mix ¾ cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution with one tsp. dish detergent and sprinkle over the Baking Soda. Try this first on a small inconspicuous area of the carpet to make sure the hydrogen peroxide won’t discolor your carpet. Next, use your fingers or an old brush to work the Baking Soda in. Allow to dry and vacuum. If there’s still a slight odor when done, lather, rinse and repeat.

Aug 11, 2011 01:02 PM
Suzanne McLaughlin
Sabinske & Associates, Inc. (Albertville, St. Michael) - Saint Michael, MN
Sabinske & Associates, Realtor

See?  I knew Russel would know what to do.  He is the master....or his and many other domains.

Aug 11, 2011 02:47 PM
Georgia Weaver
Weaver Realtors - Storm Lake, IA
A Promise Made is a Promise Kept! 712-291-0118

WOW! Russel I don't know where to begin, first thank you for such great information! To answer your questions: the sellers have 2 cats, I don't know if they are female or male, I do know they put the carpet in new. I don't know if the previous owners had pets. The current sellers owned the property for 7 years, the cats are adults but I don't think they are older cats.

Thank you again for the help.

Aug 12, 2011 03:43 AM
Georgia Weaver
Weaver Realtors - Storm Lake, IA
A Promise Made is a Promise Kept! 712-291-0118

JUst checked out Chem Dry and Room Shocker for pet smells in homes. No Chem Dry anywhere close to my area, anyone use Room Shocker in 2011? I understand they changed their formulation and it doesn't work as good as it did prior to the reformulation. I don't want to waste the buyer's time or money purchasing products that don't work. Thanks

Aug 12, 2011 03:58 AM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

At least, the seller agreed to negotiate. We just closed the escrow where a property was sold 'as is', the seller and seller's agent refused to treat the damages. Now what?: mediation, arbitration, small claim court because....urine smell?

Makes me sick when seller does not want to take a responsibility.

Mar 08, 2014 04:03 PM

Great post, Georgia! One of my 2 cats (both neutered males) had taken to painting all of my walls, furniture, and anything else he could reach. I was horrified when I got a UV light. He never did that in all of the 9 years I've had him and didn't when I got him a buddy (they love each other and did so right away) but when a strange black cat started showing up outside both of my cats went nuts and the older one (9) started his wall painting, as well as the curtains out in the kitty room. I couldn't keep up with it.

My cats are indoor cats so it's not like the stray is actually going to get in here but they both hate him (and he is weird...my neighbor's cats hate him too). I've tried cleaning with a pet urine enzyme and then spraying some "No More Spraying" but that hasn't worked.

He's a sneaky little bugger too; he waits until he thinks I'm not looking and then does it. He's learned that the minute I see him backing his butt up to something he gets yelled at. It wasn't until I found "Cat Spraying No More" that I was able to finally get rid of this tiresome behavior. Now my house doesn't smell like a litter box anymore :)

Here's a link the their site if you're interested in checking it out, I highly recommend this: NoMoreCatPee.com


Oct 16, 2019 11:41 PM