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Do you have to disclose a prior occupant’s disease or death when selling a home?

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2021 | Real Estate Law

People can be very funny creatures, full of biases and superstitions — and real estate agents are fully aware of how that can translate into a lost sale when it comes to homebuyers.

That’s one of the many reasons that home sellers are required, by law, to disclose certain material facts about a property to potential buyers. Those rules do vary a bit, however, depending on where you live.

What does Connecticut law say regarding disclosures about death or disease?

If a potential buyer finds out that a home’s former occupant died from a communicable disease, murder or suicide, they may run from the sale, so sellers and their agents are naturally reluctant to disclose anything they don’t have to reveal.

Under Connecticut’s laws, a death — no matter how it occurred — is not considered a “material fact” that has any bearing on the property. That means you do not have to volunteer information about a prior occupant who died from AIDS or any other communicable disease that has to be reported to the public health commissioner by law.

Nor are you obliged to volunteer information about a murder or suicide on the property, no matter what the circumstances (even if it made the news).

The only exception to this rule is if a potential buyer asks in writing for such information. In that situation, you or your agent must disclose whatever information you have. (You aren’t responsible for anything you don’t know, so don’t go digging for ancient history.)

How can you best protect your interests when selling a home?

Residential real estate deals and closings can be both emotionally and legally tricky. Working with an experienced real estate attorney from the beginning of your sales process is often smart.