Should I tell them about the alleged rats?

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 problemand 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 tell them and wait till they are an official client?  I told them about the closets, and then I told them what the neighbors had shared.  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.

  • If you are a real estate agent, what would you have done? 
  • If you were my client, would you have wanted me to tell you?
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4 thoughts on “Should I tell them about the alleged rats?

  1. I would have told anyone who asked me about the apratment. As you said, you represent them, not the landlord. Your business is primarily word of mouth. Wouldn’t you want to leave the most positive impression with your clients, so that they wil be eager to refer you to other potential clients? YOur professional reputation is at stake. I would also tell that landlord that you won’t be showing any potential clients his/her property until the issues are resolved.

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