What is the law of disclosure on murders/suicide in California?

Asked by Andy, Fremont, CA Wed Jun 1, 2011

Could anyone advice us on the law of disclosure if there was a murder/suicide in the property? can the seller be held responsible if this was not disclosed prior to purchase.
If there is such a law ,when is the seller expected to disclose?

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Paul Rinde, Agent, Menifee, CA
Wed Jun 1, 2011
The owner occupied seller must disclose this during your inspection period. The non owner occupied seller such as in the case of an REO does not have to disclose it. Whether the seller can be held responsible or not would be best answered by an attorney.

Good Luck
3 votes
Tara Steinke, Agent, San Diego, CA
Wed Jun 1, 2011
Hi Andy,

Direct from the California Department of Real Estate:

"No cause of action arises against an owner or the owner’s broker/agent (or any cooperating broker/agent) when selling, leasing, or renting real property for failing to disclose to the buyer, lessee, or renter the following:

• the manner or occurrence of an occupant’s death upon the real property if the death occurred more than 3 years prior to the transferee’s offer to purchase, lease, or rent the property; or

• that an occupant of the property was afflicted with, or died from, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

This controlling statute does not change the law relating to disclosure of any other physical or mental condition or disease of an occupant or the physical condition of the property. If the buyer asks a direct question concerning deaths occurring on the real property, this statute will not protect the owner or broker(s)/agent(s) from misrepresentations.

(CAL. CIV. § 1710.2)"

So the statute says you must disclose if it has occurred within the past 3 years.


Tara Steinke
Solant Real Estate Advisors
Web Reference:  http://www.solanthomes.com
1 vote
Laura Coffey, Agent, Santa Clarita, CA
Wed Jun 1, 2011
You would have to contact an attorney and prove a case as to why this affected you and that the seller didn't disclose known material fact. Keep in mind most foreclosure properties will not disclose this and in most cases would not be held liable but again contact an attorney in that event.
It's not always a non occupied seller. Only a foreclosed property. Someone who buys and flips is still held to the same disclosures.
1 vote
Andy, Home Buyer, Fremont, CA
Wed Jun 1, 2011
Thanks Laura.

In this case I am the buyer and I was freaked out to know the house we went into contract has a man commit suicide.we were able to retract our contract but want to make sure we NEVER get into a situation like that.

so the question still is ,can the seller's agent be held responsible if this is not disclosed ?
1 vote
I totally agree! How does that affect the structure of the home? Death is a normal part of life, what a bunch of babies!
Flag Mon Mar 21, 2016
big deal a guy committed suicide in his house. where else should he have done it? people live and die in houses. doesn't mean that its haunted. if you like the house you like the house.
Flag Mon Jun 2, 2014
Jim Florance, , 45432
Wed Feb 6, 2013
Many states (and I think California is one -- I know Colorado is) say that if it happened within 3 years, it must be on the seller's disclosure. If so, it is usually printed on the sellers disclosure form. A California Broker, Realtor or Attorney can review it with you.
0 votes
Andy, Home Buyer, Fremont, CA
Wed Jun 1, 2011
thanks all for taking the time to reply,

in my case,the seller;s agent was aware of this fact and disclosed it only after we went into contract,
Since we spent a considerable time in the house for looking around and almost emotionally attached ,this really freaked us out. And the death was recent-2 months back. TMI maybe, but I am emotionally affected to know this happened and considering we almost bought the house.(my bad on not checking with the neighbors).we would probably not reacted the same way if it was a natural death but a suicide is beyond us as new home buyers,

thanks again for your replies,appreciate it..
0 votes
John Juarez, Agent, Fremont, CA
Wed Jun 1, 2011
Your follow up question, “Can the seller’s agent be held responsible if this is not disclosed?” can most likely be answered by an attorney if this issue has already been litigated or by the courts if it has not yet been litigated. You are also implying that the seller’s agent knew about the suicide and hid the fact. If the seller’s agent was not aware of the suicide, I don’t know how the agent can be held responsible. But that may be a matter for an attorney to advise you.

If the seller is a bank selling an REO, the seller is not required to provide the same level of disclosures as a natural seller but the agents are still required to disclose any material fact that they know about the property.

In any event, it is impossible for the suicide to remain a secret. The neighbors would probably tell you about in their first meeting with you. In fact, you did find out about it.

If you want to know if any house that you may buy had ever had a suicide or death of any other nature, ask. If it is an REO house being listing by a very busy REO broker, neither the agent nor the seller may know the answer.
0 votes
Laura Coffey, Agent, Santa Clarita, CA
Wed Jun 1, 2011
The law states a seller should disclose what they feel is "known material fact". Basically if you have to ask yourself should I disclose this? You most likely should. On disclosures it asks if anyone has died on the property within the last three years yes or no? You can answer that question truthfully as no if someone died four years ago but tell me a buyer wouldn't want to know someone was murdered on the property?
0 votes
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