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Requirements For Disclosing Violent Death 


Dear Phyllis,

My daughter has a home in Valley Glen, which she purchased nearly five years ago. It was disclosed to her that the former owner had committed suicide, and that’s why the home was being sold. The real estate agent that represented her has told her that she must disclose this even though the California disclosures clearly ask only if there was a death on the property in the last three years. Her Realtor said that if she doesn’t want to disclose the suicide, she needs to find another Realtor, as her Realtor knows and will have to make this disclosure. My daughter disagrees, and I told her I would ask our local real estate expert. Thanks in advance for your reply.    

Concerned Mama


Dear Mama,

I understand your confusion. This requirement is outlined in California Civil Code Section 1710.2. Specifically, the law states that it must be disclosed in writing to a potential buyer or tenant if a death occurred on the property within the last three years (other than AIDS)

Although I am a real estate agent and not an attorney, it seems that there is a legal requirement to disclose violent deaths such as suicide and or murder even if they occurred more than three years ago. For instance, if the death has gained notoriety or has negatively impacted the property’s appeal, the seller may believe it is in their best interest to disclose the information as it could impact the property’s value and desirability.

On page four of the seller’s Property Disclosure, the question reads:

Any past or present known material facts or other significant items affecting the value or desirability of the property not otherwise disclosed to Buyer?

It is generally recommended that sellers err on the side of caution to avoid any legal issues. When your daughter purchased the property, she most likely received a “discount” due to the suicide. I believe if she were sued, it would be difficult for her to claim the suicide was not a material fact at the time of her purchase. It would be hard to make the case that the home would not have sold for more money if it weren’t for the suicide.

If your daughter opts not to disclose the suicide, she really should first discuss this with a real estate attorney.