Should Landlords Tell Tenants About a Previous Death in the Property?

Most landlords and property managers know about landlord disclosures regarding information about lead paint or mold, and that some states require landlords to disclose certain other information to prospective tenants.
But what about a premature death on the rental property? Depending on the state or municipal law, sometimes landlords are required to disclose whether there’s been a death.
Learn what information you must legally disclose about a death to stay in compliance with your state’s laws before your tenant signs that lease agreement.

Psychologically Impacted Property

While the death of a tenant in a rental property doesn’t usually affect the unit’s physical condition after any necessary repairs and proper cleaning, many states recognize that there is an emotional and psychological impact of living in such a place.
Rental properties that were the location of a homicide, suicide or other violent death can become psychologically impacted—that is, it may cause a prospective tenant to pass on signing a lease even if there is nothing else wrong with the unit.

Renting an Apartment where Somone Died

Whether landlords must disclose the issues that contribute to a psychologically impacted property all depends on the state laws—sometimes it’s mandatory and sometimes it is not required.
Unlike the federal law that requires landlords in all states to disclose the presence of lead-based paint in a unit, there are a range of laws and regulations concerning previous deaths in the rental property.
In some states, a landlord has no duty to disclose to a potential tenant that a death occurred on the rental property. Other states legally require the landlord to disclose to the potential tenant that a former occupant or renter died in the unit and how the death occurred.

Examples of Death Disclosures

Because the requirements surrounding death disclosures vary so widely, here are three examples from around the country that reflect this variation:

California State Law

The law in California (Cal. Civ. Code § 1710.2.) requires landlords to voluntarily disclose whether there has been a death at the rental property that occurred within the past three years. Landlords cannot provide details about the previous tenant’s identity, job, family or lifestyle—just that the death occurred and minimum information about the cause. If the prospective tenant directly asks about any deaths before the past three years, the landlord is required to provide that information, but does not have to volunteer it.

Georgia State Law

In Georgia, (O.C.G.A.§ 44-1-16) landlords and owners must answer truthfully if asked direct questions about a death on the property and must disclose whether it a death by accidental or natural means, the site of a homicide or whether the death was by suicide. Georgia landlords do not need to volunteer the information unless asked directly by the prospective tenant.

Oregon State Law

For Oregon, the law (Section 1. ORS 93.275) specifically states that landlords are not required to inform prospective tenants whether a death occurred on the property. It further clarifies that no cause of action will arise against an owner or landlord for failure to disclose the death.

How to Check if Someone Died in Your House

If you’re feeling like you absolutely need to know if someone has died in your house, or if your landlord isn’t being truthful with you, you can check if someone has previously died in your house before you.
Just visit Died in House and type in your address to begin your search. I’ve never used the website, so let us know how it works for you.
Have you ever been asked by an applicant about deaths on your property? Did the answer make a difference in whether they rented from you or not?
Share this article and let us know in the comments below!