Many people (in Arizona) falsely believe that they must disclose information about prior inhabitants of a home including if there was a murder in the home or if a criminal lived there. In reality, homeowners do not have to disclose any of this information.

Stigmatized Property Law

Arizona passed A.R.S. § 32-2156, or the stigmatized property law, in 1995. This prevents homeowners from having to disclose things about a property to a buyer that may have a negative psychological impact.

Examples:

  • Murder
  • Suicide
  • Natural Death
  • Sex Offender
  • HIV infected occupants or other diseases not known to be transmitted through housing
  • Neighbors with Criminal History

Why Would a Future Homeowner Want to Know?

Much of the reason that a homeowner may want to know about previous issues with psychological impact is superstition. It may make a person think the home is haunted or has bad luck. Many people don’t feel right about living in a place where they know someone has died. Superstition may not be an appropriate reason to not purchase a home, but there are other reasons a homeowner would want this type of information disclosed.

If there was a publicized incident with any notoriety, the event may have a psychological and monetary impact on the property. There was a California court case that argued that a multiple murder that had taken place in the home should have been disclosed because it affected the resale value of the home. Since then, California has changed its law to read that people must disclose how any death occurred in the home for the past three years. Arizona does not have that same rule.

Why is stigmatized property law a good thing?

Arizona’s stigmatized property law is a good thing because people can claim that practically any adverse event can “stigmatize” a property and lower its value psychologically. While it may be unsettling to dig up an old pet that may have been buried in the back yard, this should have no impact on the sale or the purchase of a home. Allowing anything to stigmatize property that only has psychological effects opens a can of worms that would be difficult to close.

Why do you need to know about stigmatized property law?

As a home seller, you need to know about stigmatized property law because there is no need to disclose things about your property that have no real impact. As a home buyer, you need to know that these things may not be disclosed. If it is important to you, ask. Do your research. In some cases, it has been found illegal to lie about certain things that may have psychological impacts.