Buyer Betty Says Seller Should of Warned The Public About Her Damn Cats!

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Compass 0524642

An agent I know is in the middle of what might be a small claims lawsuit. Seller X has 4 cats and recently listed her home. The showing instructions make no mention of there being cats in the home. A few days later the buyer, Betty Bookmark showed up with her agent, Top Selling Todd. Unbeknownst to Todd and Betty there were multiple cats running around the house. Meow.

Betty is highly allergic to cats and upon entering the home immediately began to break out in hives. She claims she vomited, developed a hideous rash and even suffered a fever along with cold sweats, swollen feet and a tingling sensation in her face. She's miserable and very angry.

Betty is wanting to sue the seller for not disclosing that the home had cats and for her pain and suffering.

Do you think Betty has a case? Should the seller have made it known to the public that she had cats? What's your position and why?

Posted by
Greg Nino
RE/MAX Compass 
Direct & Text 7 days a wk: 832-298-8555 
Realtor since 2004
Mediator & Arbitrator for the TX Assoc. of Realtors
Member of the Professional Standards Committee for the TX Assoc. of Realtors
Arbitrator for the Comptroller's office for the State of TX for Arbitration of Property Tax Values

 Member of the RE/MAX Hall of Fame & Platinum Club


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Comments (18)

Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Alliance 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Alliance Cincinnati & Dayton suburbs

Should the seller also have to disclose that they have peanuts in the home?  Sorry, but I put this back in the buyer's (and their agent's) lap.  If you KNOW you have a severe allergy and KNOW it's reasonable to expect things that you're allergic to might be present in a home you want to visit, then you need to inquire in advance.  I've had clients with allergies, and I've asked in advance.  No big deal.

But this is just an engineer's logic and has zero do do with how the legal system would probably interpret.  Bill

Oct 17, 2014 02:22 AM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate

Greg,  This is not a legal opinion because I am not an attorney. I live in California where people can, and do, sue for anything, including how the wind blows.

I do feel there is a duty to disclose cats and other animals in the house and/or that reside on the property.  For safety reasons, as well as possible health issues as you illustrated in your post.

Agents have a duty to be honest, deal fair, act in good faith, disclose all known facts known to the agent materially affecting the value or desirability of the property, and exercise diligence and reasonable skill in performance of their duties. There is a standard of utmost care which I feel was not demonstrated by not disclosing in the MLS the property is the home to several cats that reside inside the house.

Oct 17, 2014 02:24 AM
Greg Nino
RE/MAX Compass - Houston, TX
Houston, Texas


I don't think I could have written a better comment! 

Oct 17, 2014 02:30 AM
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Alliance 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Alliance Cincinnati & Dayton suburbs

If we're going to take the stance that you have to disclose, where do you draw the line?  Every pet including Goldie the Goldfish?  And why stop at pets?  What else might someone be allergic to?  How about that poison ivy next to the woods? 

Oct 17, 2014 02:34 AM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

In my opinion....

If I were that allergic to something,  then I would damn well be ASKING prior to scheduling a showing if there were any of that something in the home.  I believe it's the buyer's own issue and the seller is not legally responsible, in this case.

That said....sellers shouldn't be required to disclose if they have a pet.  But, numerous pets would be nice to know about.

Oct 17, 2014 02:57 AM
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

Gee, this is a tough one! Yes I think a seller should disclose if they have pets in the house because of this reason.  I am allergic but not to the extent that buyer was.  I am fatally allergic to bee and wasp stings.  Do I think they need to disclose whether or not there are hives in the yard? NO! But if they are in the house YES.

Oct 17, 2014 06:34 AM
Raymond Denton
Homesmart / Evergreen Realty - Irvine, CA
Irvine Realtor®

I had a girlfriend that was highly allergic to cats.  If it was the first time we were visiting somebody elses house, we always had to inquire about "cats" first.  She was like the Buyer, and would immediately become inflamed.  Experience that once, and you'll never want to experience it again.

We were shopping for houses, and always asked about Cats.  A cat didn't even have to be living in the house anymore.  Once we went into a vacant house, that only had one cat living in it before it was vacated, and she went down hard.  We didn't have the Inhaler with us, and I thought she was going to die - it was really scarey.

With the Buyer being that sensitive to Cats, it's her fault for not inquiring first.  She should know better.

Oct 17, 2014 06:38 AM
Cindy Jones
Integrity Real Estate Group - Woodbridge, VA
Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News

I put the responsibilty back on the buyer's agent and the buyer.  If you have a severe allergy you should ask all of the right questions BEFORE you show the house.  Of course if she wants to sue no one can stop her but whether a court will hear the case is another story.

Oct 17, 2014 07:58 AM
Michelle Gibson
Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. - Wellington, FL

I totally agree with others, this is the buyer and buyers agent responsibility, not the sellers.

Oct 17, 2014 10:41 AM
Ed Silva
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

I am not a big pet person but this is on the buyer and her agent more than the seller. If the buyer had issues they should have been brought to the agent's attention and a quick inquiry made before they open the door.

Oct 17, 2014 01:29 PM
John Meussner
Mortgages in AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, MD, MN, MT, NC, NJ, NV, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WI - Fair Oaks, CA
#MortgageMadeEasy Fair Oaks, CA 484-680-4852

I'm in line with Liz and Bill Spear - where do you draw the line?  I know that's not how the legal system works, but I'd find it hard to penalize a seller for this.  I think it should be mentioned in showing instructions.  Some folks are very allergic to flowers - should that cause a disclosure?

Oct 17, 2014 01:58 PM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Greg, I'm not an attorney; however, it's always better to disclose. I checked the Texas Seller's Disclosure and they ask if the owner is occupying the property but it doesn't say anything about pets occupying the property. However, on the listing agreement, page 4 of 10 under Liability and Indemnification, line 2 reads, "Seller assumes all risk of any loss, damage or injury." For that reason, if I was the listing agent, I would disclose there are cats on the property in MLS and through Showing Services.

Oct 17, 2014 09:32 PM
Dianne Goode
Raleigh Cary Realty - Raleigh, NC

The buyer has no case.  The presence of cats is not a material fact, at least not in North Carolina, so the seller is not under obligation to disclose.  I agree with others who have said it was the buyer's responsibility to ask about cats beforehand.  Her agent should have called or emailed all the listing agents when making appointments:  "My client is highly allergic to cats.  Please confirm with your seller that no cats are currently living in the home, nor have there been cats visiting or staying in the home for at least six months."


Oct 18, 2014 01:54 AM
Jeff Pearl
RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA - Lovettsville, VA
Full Service Full Time Realtor

Some people are allergic to cigarette smoke, yet I've nevr seen any agent disclose " sellers smoke in house". Buyers health is her responsibilty, not that of every seller who has their house on the market that she decides she wants to see.

Oct 18, 2014 09:44 AM
Sussie Sutton
David Tracy Real Estate - Houston, TX
David Tracy Real Estate for Buyers & Sellers

I would think that the buyer knew she had a severe allergy to cats. So she should have notified her Realtor® of such allergies. That way her Realtor could ask for her in advance.

Oct 18, 2014 03:32 PM
Pam Sitterly
CRS Magnolia-Tomball Texas

It is ridiculous to disclose pets living in the house.  Buyer Beware!  I once worked with a buyer who was allergic to cats and she could tell the second the front door was opened. If she sensed cats, that house was crossed off the list.


(and while we're at it, it is also ridiculous for agents to post remarks in MLS such as "Don't let the cat out." It is dangerous to try to grab a fleeing cat!)

Oct 20, 2014 07:25 AM
Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities
Charlemagne International Properties - Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A.

The listing agent should have mentioned CATS in the showing remarks on the MLS, and since the client has severe allergies her agent should have called to make sure no cats were in the house since such a buyer would have absolutely no interest in residing in a property permeated with cat dander.  My son is allergic and I didn't bother looking at houses where cats were in residence.

A little more due diligence on the behalf of each agent was in order--yep, I fault the agents.

Oct 24, 2014 05:09 AM
Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers
Serving the Greater Phoenix and Scottsdale Metropolitan Area - Scottsdale, AZ
Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty

The standard contract in Arizona makes it very clear that it's always ultimately the Buyer's responsibility to do their "due diligence" before pulling the trigger.

Oct 21, 2015 10:45 PM