A Tampa Bay Realtor, her brokerage and a client were swatted with a lawsuit this week after selling a home that was cleared by a termite inspector after the buyer moved in and found damage from the critters a short time later.

Realtor Laura Keyes and her brokerage Dalton Wade, along with Keyes’ client, Darlene Allen, are being sued by Jonah Huggins for fraud and negligence, local NBC affiliate WFLA News Channel 8 reported on Tuesday. Huggins is also requesting the court revoke their contract and make Allen purchase the property back from Huggins.

“After a couple days, termites just swarmed from everywhere,” Huggins told WFLA News Channel 8. “A termite inspection was completed and it said no termites.”

Laura Keyes | Credit: Dalton Wade

Keyes did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Just a few months before Juan “Joe” Mendoza conducted his termite inspection on Allen’s split-level home in Tampa that found the property termite-free, a licensed exterminator conducted a Wood Destroying Organism (WDO) inspection on the home and found visible evidence of termites. At that point, a deal in progress to buy the home was canceled.

“I would’ve never bought that if we knew the truth about the termites,” Huggins said. “There’s no telling how much damage is in the walls.”

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) reported to WFLA News Channel 8 that Mendoza is unlicensed, and has been charged with three felonies for forgery and fraud of more than $50,000, as well as three misdemeanors for advertising his pest services while unlicensed.

The FDAC stated that a number of homeowners have fallen victim to Mendoza’s reports “falsely declaring homes free of termite infestation.”

Juan “Joe” Mendoza | Credit: WFLA News Channel 8

And, according to a 2018 email from an FDACS investigator, Mendoza wasn’t operating as a lone wolf — he was receiving job leads from a Realtor.

“FDACS spokesperson Erin Moffit said she could not comment about whether the agency will investigate how Realtors may have been involved with Mendoza’s alleged crimes,” WFLA News Channel 8 reported.

Keyes does not have any public complaints filed against her, according to the Florida Department of Business and Profession Regulation (DBPR).

Mendoza has amassed about $19,000 in fines by the FDACS since 2018, but has not paid those fines, according to records.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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