Ghosts, natural death, murders, suicides … there are some things sellers would rather not admit about the house they’re trying to sell.
When a buyer finds out after their purchase though, that a gang-member might have been murdered on their property, lawsuits can happen.
That’s what happened in BC.
According to REM, the owner of a Vancouver home wanted to sell. “The seller … lived for the most part in China. Her daughter, son-in law and their children resided in the property. The son in-law was murdered outside the front gate of the property. There was speculation that he was part of a notorious biker gang.”
“The seller decided that because she no longer wanted to live in Canada, and since her granddaughter would be changing schools, she wanted to sell the property. At the time [an] offer was negotiated, the buyer asked why the seller was selling. The buyer was told the reason was that the daughter was changing schools. Nothing was mentioned about the murder. A few days after the offer was signed, the buyer learned about the murder and refused to close, claiming she feared for her family’s safety.”
The buyer then sued the seller for their deposit which, on what was likely a $5 million transaction, would have been significant.
While all this is going on, money is being spent on lawyers, and the sizeable deposit is tied up for the months and years it takes to settle a lawsuit.
Before the judge ruled, it was not mandatory in Canada to disclose hauntings or deaths. After the March ruling, it’s still not mandatory.
“In fact, the judge said … the buyer could easily have found this out by just Googling the property address on the internet, even in 2009.”
The buyers were refunded their deposit and court costs, which would have run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What We Must Disclose in Canada:
Canadian law requires sellers to disclose latent (not visible) defects whether they’re asked by the buyer or not that is or could lead to be a health or safety issue. For example, if they know of or have reason to believe of mold, structural issues, or that the property can’t be used for the purpose it’s being sold, the seller is legally obligated to disclose it. Murders, suicides, hauntings, and natural deaths, however, do not have to be disclosed.
All that said, I’ve always felt it’s best to disclose all anyway.
Disclose early, disclose often. You can’t be hurt for disclosing. Yes, it could cost you a sale but you are likely better off that way.