Couple Seeks to Clear the Air With Realtor — Via Lawsuit

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RealtorNobody starts housing hunting thinking, “You know, I think I want a house that smells like a giant litter box,” but that’s what one Florida couple says they got with their home purchase — all thanks to the Realtor that listed it.

Newlyweds Daniel McKay and Katherine Pulker closed on their home in Valrico, Florida, in April. According to the suit they filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court on July 20 (sidebar: Hillsborough Circuit Court, I love your case lookup, Dallas and everyone else, please review this because yeah, way better), everything seemed fine until they removed the plug-in air fresheners.


It was then that they say they realized that the listing agent, Deborah Clark of Link Realty, didn’t disclose everything about the property on closing day.

“Ms. Clark is the operator and or participant in a ‘cat rescue’ operation in Hillsborough County which engages in the practice of collecting, possessing and providing for feral, stray and abandoned cats,” the suit said. “Prior to the purchase of the Property by Mr. McKay, and while the Property was vacant, Ms. Clark housed a multitude of cats at the Property completely unsupervised.”


The suit then says that Ms. Clark rented the home to a tenant of the sellers, with the condition that the tenant house several cats for several years, in exchange for reduced rent.


“During the course of the tenancy the tenant(s) housed as many as 15-25 cats at the same time in the property,” the suit said, adding that Clark knew how many cats were there, and even helped feed them and care for them.


“The presence of the multitude of cats in the property resulted in extreme contamination of the home with cat urine, including saturation of drywall and insulation with cat urine, and destruction of the HVAC system due to urination in floor duct(s),” the lawsuit said.


The couple alleges that Clark tried to cover up the damage by installing new carpet, replacing baseboards, painting over saturated drywall and insulation, and by using air fresheners to mask the smell.

Indeed, the remains of the listing that are still up on Zillow indicate that the home did get new baseboards, paint and carpet.

Image courtesy Google Maps

The suit said the couple didn’t notice the smell prior to the purchase, but noticed it soon after, and said the Realtor agreed to replace the air conditioning unit and ductwork, telling McKay to get a quote for the work.

“When Mr. McKay learned of the presence of hoards of cats in the Property, he began investigating the extent of the urine damage,” the suit continued. “He noticed that the smell was strongest near the floor, so he removed the newly installed baseboards.”

When he did, he said he was overpowered by the stench of cat pee, and noticed that the drywall and insulation were soaked with it at the floor level.

Further inspections found that the sub-floor was saturated, too.

“The Property is currently uninhabitable,” the suit said.

The couple is suing Clark and Link Realty for negligence, failing to disclose hidden defects materially affecting the value of the property, and breach of contract.

And now, if you excuse me, I need to irrigate my sinuses, because even though I wasn’t there, I can now smell nothing but cat pee.

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson lives in a 1961 Fox and Jacobs home with her husband, a second-grader, and Conrad Bain the dog. If she won the lottery, she'd by an E. Faye Jones home. She's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Online News Association, the Education Writers Association, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, and the Society of Professional Journalists. She doesn't like lima beans or the word moist.

Reader Interactions


  1. Cindy says

    We also bought a house from her in the Bloomingdale area. After moving in we found several lies and issues with the house. Thankfully nothing to this extreme. She did want to leave a huge wooden box on the side of the house for her cat rescue and we had to force her to remove or it would be torn down.

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