Does the Seller's Disclosure Notice Require Reporting a Death at the Property?

To answer this question we will first look to the property code. The law says: “A seller or seller's agent shall have no duty to make a disclosure or release information related to whether a death by natural causes, suicide, or accident unrelated to the condition of the property occurred on the property.”

This means we do not have to disclose a death that falls under these three given circumstances. However, the third circumstance leaves for some discretion as it states “an accident unrelated to the property.” For example if a death happens because someone had a heart attack this is not something that is related to a condition on the property so would not need to be disclosed. On the other hand, if the death happened as a result of falling into the well on the property, then this is the type of incident that would need to be disclosed.

You will notice that the code makes no mention of a murder on the property. The consensus with regards to a murder has been that since the law provides only specifics about when you do not have to disclose, then the absence of murder from the list would mean the legislatures intended for murder to be disclosed.

I was asked recently by someone, “What if the person was shot on the property but they actually died at the hospital? Is that something I would still need to disclose?” Everyone has their different interpretation of the law but my suggestion would be it is better you tell them than the neighbor tells them the day after closing.

This is an excerpt from a video transcription by Gilbert Gonzalez, SABOR Vice President of Risk Management and General Counsel. If you have additional questions about what you are legally  responsible to disclosure, contact a real estate attorney.