Landlords not obligated to tell buyers, renters about murders: lawyer
Published Monday, May 27, 2013 3:26PM EDT
If you learned that someone had been brutally murdered in the house or apartment you were thinking about buying or renting, would you balk? Would you feel that the landlord, realtor or former homeowner had a duty to let you know of the property’s provenance?
Real estate lawyer Mark Weisleder says in fact there are no laws in Canada that compel home sellers or renters to disclose a property’s past, no matter how disturbing the history might be.
“The law in Canada does not require them to disclose what many people would consider to be really important information to a tenant,” Weisleder told CTV News Channel Monday.
But that appears to be changing.
This week, the landlord of the building where Luka Rocco Magnotta allegedly murdered and dismembered Chinese exchange student Jun Lin revealed he had finally rented out the unit where the gruesome crime took place.
Superintendent Eric Schorer told The Canadian Press the unit remained empty for months after Lin’s body parts were found in the trash outside the building a year ago this week. The unit had to undergo extensive renovations, but he says the bachelor apartment has since been rented out twice.
Schorer admitted the current tenant, whom he described as a foreigner, likely knows nothing about the past of his current home, though he expected he would hear about it eventually from neighbours.
According to Canadian law, Schorer is not legally required to reveal anything about this unit, Weisleder said.
Weisleder says it’s an unusual situation given that most home appraisers would say a murder or a suicide on a property affects its market value. He notes that many houses where murders took place take much longer to sell and tend to sell at prices that are lower than market value.
He also notes that in the U.S., if the property has been the location of a murder or a suicide in the last three years, it must be disclosed to potential buyers.
Murders and suicides taint a property with a psychological stigma, Weisleder says, and it seems the law is beginning to take that into account -- at least when it comes to home sales.
“We have a multicultural country and there’s clearly going to be many communities and cultures that could be bothered by this. I believe the law is evolving to the point where owners need to disclose this kind of information to potential buyers,” he said.
“I’m hopeful that governments will see this as a real problem and will start to establish these kinds of laws.”
Magnotta, 30, meanwhile is still awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges in Lin's death. The former porn actor and stripper has pleaded not guilty to all the counts. His trial is due to begin in September 2014.