When it comes to selling a property, homeowners are not legally obligated to disclose whether or not it is haunted. According to Zillow’s examination of state real estate disclosure regulations, only four states – New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Minnesota – have explicit rules regarding paranormal activity. In most regions, sellers are not required to inform potential buyers about any supernatural occurrences in the home.
If a seller in New York takes advantage of a buyer’s ignorance about a property being haunted, they can be held accountable for it. In such cases, the courts can cancel the sale. For example, if a seller invites ghost hunters from a reality TV show to their haunted castle and later sells it to a buyer who is not interested in paranormal activities, the court may invalidate the sale. It is mandatory under New Jersey law for sellers to inform potential buyers of any undisclosed tenants.
Several jurisdictions have laws prohibiting the disclosure of information about a property that may have a “stigma” or “psychological impact.” In Massachusetts and Minnesota, for instance, the disclosure of “psychologically affected” features, such as paranormal or supernatural activities, is explicitly excluded.
Real estate professionals have noted that haunted houses can pose additional challenges that may discourage potential buyers.
Jennifer Stauter Kornstedt, a Zillow Premier Agent in Wisconsin, shares a spooky encounter with a seller who believed their house was haunted by a ghost residing in the basement. During an open house, Jennifer heard loud noises emanating from the basement and went to investigate. However, she couldn’t figure out the source of the commotion. To her surprise, when she tried calling the seller, the phone only produced static after three rings.
Although not mandatory under Wisconsin law, Stauter Kornstedt asserts that she and the seller had agreed to disclose the eerie companion to any potential buyer. Despite the homeowners’ decision to remain in the property, Stauter Kornstedt reveals that she has been finding it hard to sleep in the house ever since.
Nine states have laws in place regarding the disclosure of deaths on properties. In California, it is mandatory to disclose any deaths that occurred on the property within the past three years. In Alaska, any deaths within a year must be reported. In South Dakota, sellers are obligated to disclose whether or not a homicide occurred on the property.
In certain states, such as Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and South Carolina, sellers are required to disclose any deaths that have occurred on the property only if specifically requested to do so.
Florida Law on Haunted Properties
If someone intentionally hides evidence of a murder, suicide, or death that occurred on their property, they could be charged with concealing a homicide, suicide, or death on the premises. Additionally, if a landlord fails to disclose that a previous tenant had HIV/AIDS to a potential tenant, they could also be charged with concealing an HIV/AIDS diagnosis of an occupant. These charges are serious and can result in severe legal consequences.
- Human immunodeficiency virus infection or a diagnosis of acquired immune deficiency syndrome are not material facts that must be reported in a real estate transaction because they do not affect the value of the property.
- It is not a material fact that must be disclosed in a real estate transaction that a property was, or at any time was thought to have been, the location of a homicide, suicide, or death.
- A real estate owner, his or her agent, a real estate transferee’s agent, or a person licensed under Chapter 475 is immune from liability if they fail to disclose to a prospective buyer that the property has been, or is reasonably believed to have been, the scene of a homicide, suicide, or death, or that a current or former resident has been infected with human immunodeficiency virus or has been diagnosed with acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
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