Author Topic: Help: I just bought a house someone died in (house fire!)  (Read 2990 times)

Gretamom

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Help: I just bought a house someone died in (house fire!)
« on: July 23, 2015, 06:05:53 PM »
Looking for any advice. Background: My husband and I own 8 rental units. We just bought a house where someone died in a house fire a few months ago. The house is a total loss and has to be torn down & a partial basement filled in. The reason we bought it is because the deal seemed too sweet to pass up. The city lot it is on is zoned for a triplex (which was there before). There is a lot of awesome revitalization going on in the area & the person listed the house for $14,000. We offered $4500 cash and they accepted. We close next Friday.

My concerns:
I have never dealt with a new construction, so obviously that makes me nervous.
I'm somewhat concerned that no one will want to live where someone died in a fire, even if the old house is demolished and it is an entirely new house.
I'm somewhat concerned about carrying costs of construction while we are rebuilding.

Does anyone have some advice for me?


CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Help: I just bought a house someone died in (house fire!)
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2015, 06:18:13 PM »
The house you will be renting out is new construction and not the house where the person died. 

I would not mention this to any prospective tenants.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Help: I just bought a house someone died in (house fire!)
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2015, 07:13:55 PM »
You're concerned about people knowing somebody has died simply on the property? I don't see why it would come up, but people have been around a really long time. Somebody has died nearly everywhere.

I'm pretty sure somebody once died in my house and I don't care.

sugarsnap

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Re: Help: I just bought a house someone died in (house fire!)
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2015, 07:28:26 PM »
In CA we have to disclose a death in the house for 5? Years previous. We lost one buyer in escrow while selling my grandparents house, even though grandma died peacefully of old age. You may loose some buyers but it shouldn't be a huge problem.

Taran Wanderer

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Re: Help: I just bought a house someone died in (house fire!)
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2015, 07:47:56 PM »
To assuage the spirits, maybe you should do a small, private ceremony before starting work. Doesn't have to be much, but to me it just feels right to honor the person's memory.  Maybe you don't believe in spirits (I don't), but I still think it's a good thing to take a moment to remember, to acknowledge, and to commit to doing things right (fire walls, smoke detectors, etc.) so it doesn't happen again. Sure, maybe those are code required, but you can do them because you have to or because you want to.  I bet you will have more inner peace if you have the right purpose in your heart.

Also, I agree with not mentioning it to prospective tenants, but be truthful if they ask.
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forummm

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Re: Help: I just bought a house someone died in (house fire!)
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2015, 07:50:02 PM »
In CA we have to disclose a death in the house for 5? Years previous. We lost one buyer in escrow while selling my grandparents house, even though grandma died peacefully of old age. You may loose some buyers but it shouldn't be a huge problem.

Do you have to disclose a death in a rental? I guess OP could check their state laws.

Carrying costs during construction could be significant. And the process is likely to take longer than you expect. So just be prepared for lots of delays. Do you have the necessary cash? Or do you need to borrow to complete construction?

Gretamom

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Re: Help: I just bought a house someone died in (house fire!)
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2015, 08:37:41 PM »
I might agree with doing a little ceremony: There is currently a "Shrine" outside the house - candles and pictures and flowers etc.
People in this area tend to stay in the area, so I just think they might remember the house, a death in a house fire is big news around here.
Also, I might be able to come up with cash to rebuild, it would probably take us about a year.

Another Reader

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Re: Help: I just bought a house someone died in (house fire!)
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2015, 09:12:05 PM »
You did not buy a house.  You bought a lot.  Remove the remaining structure, fill in the basement, and let the vacant lot sit while you assemble the plans, permits, and funds to build the triplex.  In a year, no one will remember what was there. 

Disclosure should not be an issue because no one died in the new building.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Help: I just bought a house someone died in (house fire!)
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2015, 09:20:20 PM »
We built our house on a Indian burial ground, and aside from the tv acting up once in awhile, and some broken plates, have had no big problems.

Cathy

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Re: Help: I just bought a house someone died in (house fire!)
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2015, 09:43:42 PM »
Cal. Civ. Code 1710.2 provides in relevant part that no action lies against "an owner of real property or his or her agent, or any agent of a transferee of real property" for failure to disclose "the occurrence of an occupant's death upon the real property or the manner of death" if "the death has occurred more than three years prior to the date the transferee offers to purchase, lease, or rent the real property". Note that the term "transferee" would include a lessee even without further clarification because a lease is, by definition, a (temporary) transfer of real property. However, in this case the statute explicitly says that "transferee" includes a purchaser, lessee, or renter of real property.

This statute is widely misunderstood (which I say based on my search of the internet).

This statute does not mandate any disclosures. It also does not create any liability for a transferee who fails to make the contemplated disclosures. (Note: That does not mean they aren't liable, it's just not addressed by the statute.) The sole effect of this statute is to create a defence, in certain circumstances, for the defendant in an action where the legal theory of liability is based on nondisclosure of death. What this statute means is that if you fail to make the contemplated disclosure and the requirements of the statute are met, you can rest easy that you cannot be sued under California law for your failure to make that disclosure.

To reiterate, then, this statute only says when an owner (etc.) is not liable. It says nothing about when they actually are liable.

Assuming the defence in the statute does not apply, liability will be determined under the normal principles of tort law and contract law and any other legal theories that the plaintiff can dream up. That is far too broad of a topic to address here, so I'm not going to attempt to do so; I just wanted to clarify the effect of this California statute.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2015, 01:18:40 AM by Cathy »
This post contains only general information on the issues raised by this topic. This post does not provide help tailored to your specific situation. There are many facts that could be relevant to your specific situation and I am not in possession of those facts. If you need help tailored to your specific situation, you should retain an appropriate professional and not rely on this post.

nirvines88

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Re: Help: I just bought a house someone died in (house fire!)
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2015, 07:52:08 AM »
We built our house on a Indian burial ground, and aside from the tv acting up once in awhile, and some broken plates, have had no big problems.

No dead animals coming back to life? 

Mr. Green

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Re: Help: I just bought a house someone died in (house fire!)
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2015, 08:23:33 AM »
I would venture a guess that the percentage of homes people have died in is quite high. Not sure why that would weird someone out. You have to die somewhere.
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