If selling or buying a home is in your future, you're likely well versed the entire process, from the initial offer to closing. But are you aware that disclosing a death in the home may be required? The rules vary by state. Here's what you need to know.
Property Disclosure Documents
No matter how perfect a house looks on the outside, there is often property information a buyer needs to disclose before the sale can go through. Property disclosure documents reveal known structural issues, neighborhood nuisances, hazards, HOA details, water damage, notable repairs made to the home and death in the home.
Rules for reporting a death in the home vary by state, and variations in rules may include:
- Timeframe: When the death occurred.
- How the person passed away: If the death occurred naturally versus due to negligence on the property.
- Hauntings: If the seller has knowledge that the property is being haunted by the dead.
To be more specific, here are three death disclosure examples as stated from experts or articles based in Texas, New Jersey, and California:
- On Investopedia, Jim Olenbush, a Texas real estate broker said, “In Texas, for example, deaths from natural causes, suicides, or accidents unrelated to the property do not have to be disclosed." However, “a seller is required to disclose deaths related to the condition of the property or violent crimes."
- Michele Messina, an agent with RE/MAX Villa Realtors in New Jersey, told Apartment Therapy, "If someone passed away after living a long, happy life, it’s not really something you have to disclose."
- The SFGate reported that in California, if someone dies on the property, it's a material defect – but only if the death occurred within three years of the date you make an offer to purchase or rent the home.
For a state by state guide on disclosure laws we recommend visiting this resource on Nolo.com.
How to Search Property Records
If you'd like to do your own sleuthing and search property records, look no further than DiedInHouse.com. Founded in 2013, this website promises to instantly search millions of records to determine if a death has occurred at any valid U.S. address.
In a 2015 interview with Forbes.com, founder Roy Condrey stated, "I went online to find a ‘Carfax’ of sorts for deaths in homes and I didn’t find anything, but I did find pages and pages of people asking if there’s a way to find out if their house is haunted."
The service isn't free, though. Once you enter an address, you're prompted to pay a minimum of $11.99 for a single search. The report will, however, provide a number of property records including meth labs, fire, death, and registered sex offender information.
Remediating After a Death in a Home
If a death recently occurred in the home you're hoping to purchase, there may have been biohazards from bloodborne pathogens that required remediation. Consider asking the seller how the death was remediated to ensure proper steps were taken. Remediation processes may vary depending on the location of the death, how the death occurred, types of flooring, and if the death was undiscovered for days or weeks.
Bio-One technicians are trained and equipped to properly disinfect biohazards from bloodborne pathogens, and we ensure safe biohazard material handling and disposal. Once the entire area is cleaned of blood and body fluids, we also help property owners restore the location to its pre-incident state.
If you are selling a home and need a biohazard remediated or want to ensure remediation was done correctly, give Bio-One a call. Our experts not only contain and disinfect the dangerous biological materials, we carry out our work in a caring and private manner. Find a Bio-One team near you.