How To: Discover If Someone Died in Your House & Next Steps
If you’re in the market to buy or rent a home, for one reason or another you may be curious about whether or not someone has died in that house. And if that’s not a question you are asking, you should be. Additionally, if you do find a body in your home – what do yo do?
‘Did Someone die in my house?’ questions to ask
According to a real estate broker who specializes in real estate damage valuation, a non-natural death such as a suicide or murder can drop the home’s value by 10-25%. Furthermore, if the body wasn’t removed by a certified bioremediation specialist, then remaining bacteria could pose harmful health threats.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways for you to determine if someone has died in a house you are interested in, or even your own home.
1. Ask the seller or their real estate agent
If you’re looking to buy or rent a home, you can ask the seller or their real estate agent. However, only three states require the selling party to disclose this information.
If you live in California, Alaska, or South Dakota, your real estate agent must disclose this information. However, in California there is a three-year time limitation. If the death occurred prior to three years, they are not required to tell you ahead of time. But if you ask and the death happened more than three years ago, they are required to tell you. In Alaska and South Dakota, sellers only have to disclose if someone has died in a house within that previous year, and only if it’s a murder or suicide. They are not required by law to inform you beyond that.
Beyond that, it’s a gray area. Yes, it’s probably morally sound for the seller to give you that information, and honest agents will let you know that information if you ask. However, most are not obligated by law to tell you.
2. Check the seller disclosure form
You can also check the seller disclosure form to find out if someone has died in a house. While it varies from state to state, and even from count to county, most parts of the country require a seller to fill out a disclosure form which highlights any potential issues with the house that could affect value or enjoyment of the property – from a basement that has previously flooded to a bug infestation problem. You can get “material” information about the home. In some states, a death in the home is considered to be a piece of material information about the home.
3. Ask the neighbors
If you are trying to find out about the house you currently live in, or even a house you could possibly live in one day, this may be a no-brainer. Neighbors are a great source of information and probably know more than you think, especially if they have lived in the neighborhood for more than a few years. It may not be best practice to knock on a door and lead with that question, but neighbors can be a good, easy source of truth.
4. Ask the city or county for the home’s title information
This will require some work on your part, but it is an effective way to do it. The home’s title information will give you a list of all the previous owners. It will then be up to you to either search online or contact your county or state’s vital records office to obtain death certificates which will list where the person died.
If none of these options works or suits you, there are websites now that will do the work for you. You have to pay a fee, which may not be worth it especially if you can simply talk to someone, but they are available for you to use. Whether you want peace of mind or want to know the value on a home, there’s no reason you can’t find out if someone has died in your house or in a house you are interested in purchasing.
Someone Died In The House, Now What?
When an individual dies in the house, either attended or unattended, the first step is typically cleaning up the physical aftermath of their passing. This process can include removing blood, bodily fluids and any other physical items that may be harmful. When a family or property owner is left to clean their home after someone died in the house, it can be overwhelming. Rather than reaching out to friends or family to help, if someone has died in your house or a house you own, calling a professional trauma cleanup company like Aftermath is the best solution.
Aftermath Home Trauma Cleaning Services
Don’t attempt to clean a house after a death is discovered. All Aftermath technicians employ a systematic approach to cleaning that ensures every trauma scene meets or exceeds hospital-grade disinfection standards. Contact us today for professional trauma cleaning services after a death in the home.