November 4, 2011
Disclosure of Death on Property
American Horror Story, a seriously disturbed new show on FX, spent several minutes debating property law in it's third episode. The house at the center of the show is a 1920s mansion in Los Angeles, lovingly restored with beautiful glass and wood. It is also the site of many, many murders over the years and may actually be evil.
The new family which purchased the house in the pilot were told of the murder-suicide of the house's previous owners. The realtor told the couple that she was required to disclose those deaths because they occurred in the house within the prior three years. She did not disclose the other murders. (It is unknown at this point in the show how many have actually died there.)
Not surprisingly, she wasn't exactly correct.
California Civil Code sec. 1710.2 provides in part: "a) No cause of action arises against an owner of real property or his or her agent, or any agent of a transferee of real property, for the failure to disclose to the transferee the occurrence of an occupant's death upon the real property or the manner of death where the death has occurred more than three years prior to the date the transferee offers to purchase, lease, or rent the real property..."
There isn't actually an affirmative requirement to disclose deaths which occurred on the property within the prior three years. There is, however, a more general requirement to disclose material issues that could impact the value of the home. For example, that the house is evil.
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