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Spooks and spirits…disclosing a death at a property

spooky house

By Carl Horst, OAR Director of Publications/Media Relations

Today is the annual celebration of spooks and spirits, when children run from door-to-door begging for treats at the risk of a trick. It’s the one day when, for most, the macabre becomes fun.

While the appeal of the paranormal typically dissipates once the calendar turns to November, a website launched a year ago is trying to tap the curiosity of would-be buyers and renters interested in knowing if anyone has ever died in the property.

Diedinhouse.com bills itself as “the first of its kind, web-based service that helps you find out if anyone has died at any valid US address.” With pricing starting at $14,95, users can discover if there’s been a death at the property, the name and information of the deceased and even possibly the cause of death.

So does a death that occurred in the property have to be disclosed? This is actually one of the more frequent questions that come into the OAR Legal Hotline according to Peg Ritenour, the association’s chief legal counsel. The short answer — at least in the case of a murder or suicide — is that it’s probably prudent for an agent to err on the side of caution and disclose, but that consent from the seller is necessary.

Ritenour explains in a previous OAR Daily Buzz post:

In Ohio, there is no statutory provision that mandates disclosure of such an event on a property. However the seller and their listing agent clearly have an obligation under Ohio case law to disclose any fact of which they have knowledge that could be material to the buyer’s decision to purchase the property. In the case of a murder or suicide, although such an event wouldn’t constitute a latent defect affecting the physical condition of the property, it could be considered to be a material fact to some buyers.

Click here for Ritenour’s advice on how to properly handle the disclosure of murder or suicide.

Tags: legal