Haunted Real Estate: Must Disclose Haunted House?
If you owned haunted real estate and wanted to sell it, would you have an obligation to tell potential buyers of paranormal activity?
It's a difficult question to answer that will play out differently state by state. Most real estate laws require sellers to disclose "material facts." But what is a material fact? Do they have to disclose a haunted house?
Normally material facts include things like leaks, structural issues, age of items that wear down, mold and mildew and so on. Other material facts could include the taxes involved, easements or overlaps on adjacent properties and title issues.
However, there are some things that have to be disclosed that might surprise you. For example, under California Civil Code 1710.2, a death on a property should be disclosed if it happened within the past three years. If the buyer asks about deaths on the property, the seller must answer truthfully even beyond the three year period.
Haunted house resale exists in a gray area, but there are enough cases for there to be a blog on the topic. (But of course). In one notable haunted real estate case from 1991 in New York, a buyer sued after finding out that the seller had writing about the house being haunted in the local paper and Readers' Digest. The court allowed the buyer to void the contract, although it did not find the seller's actions tantamount to fraud.
So should you disclose a haunted house? Unless your state has a particular law that requires you to do so, you probably don't have to do it. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't do it anyway.
If you don't tell them and they later find out, you could wind up getting sued anyway. Keep in mind that they probably will find out, often the first time that they meet the neighbors. So even if you can keep the haunted real estate a secret, is it worth it to do so?
- Do You Have to Disclose that a House is Haunted? (NVAR)
- Required Real Estate Disclosures When Selling Property (FindLaw)
- You Better Tell Them: California Real Estate Disclosure Law (FindLaw)
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