Disclosing a Death When Selling Your Home

by Team Broady on Tuesday, February 15, 2022

This can be a sensitive topic for anyone who is selling a property where someone has died. The numerous circumstances in which this could occur make it a very interesting subject. Based on our team’s experience, we’ll try to explore this as thoughtfully as we can in this article. 

There are two important situations that can come into play when addressing this topic, especially as it pertains to the Province of Quebec. For all intents and purposes, we will focus only on how they are dealt with in this province. 

The first situation is when the seller of the property has no signed listing contract with a real estate broker. The second situation is when they do. 

In the first case, the seller is under no legal obligation to fill out any type of disclosure or declaration form, and it’s essentially “buyer beware.” However, both buyer and seller are still protected by the Civil Code of Quebec. 

In the second case, when selling your home under mandate with a real estate broker in Quebec, you must complete and sign the mandatory forms required by the OACIQ (Organisme d'autoréglementation du courtage immobiler du Québec). The OACIQ is the government body that oversees residential real estate transactions and essentially acts as a consumer protection organization. 

One of the mandatory forms is the Declaration by the Seller of the Immovable. This six-page document is a list of questions that aim to provide information to the buyer about the property. Among others, the seller is asked if there have ever been water infiltration or electrical problems. 

Question D13.8 asks, “To your knowledge, has there ever been a suicide or violent death in the immovable?” 

If a death has ever occurred inside the home, most sellers will ask us if they ought to disclose it anyway, even if it wasn’t a suicide or violent death.  

This can be a tricky question. Although sellers are not legally obliged to declare a non-violent death, under certain circumstances we think it’s the right thing to do. Throughout our many years of selling homes, we have come across several different scenarios where this has been the case.  

Last year, Catherine was representing the buyer in their purchase of a house in Pointe-Claire, and the Declaration by the Seller said truthfully that there had been no suicide or violent death. However, while preparing the offer to purchase, the listing broker made a last-minute disclosure about a death that had occurred in the home, in this case medical assistance in dying for someone who was terminally ill.  

Luckily, the disclosure was made before the offer had been submitted, and the buyer had the opportunity to consider this factor before buying the property. In the end, they went ahead with the purchase regardless.  

Mark also handled the sale of a property where the seller's little girl had sadly been born with a terminal illness. When the time of her passing came, her parents made the decision for her to be at home, surrounded by her family. This was disclosed to us up front and with full transparency at the time we took the listing. The sellers asked if they should declare what had happened. We explained that they were under no legal obligation to do so. However, in the end, we agreed it was best to be completely open with potential buyers. 

Some people aren’t fazed by the fact that there has been a death in a home, especially when they’re buying in communities where houses are 50-plus years old and have histories of several generations or many owners. Nevertheless, as you've seen from the previous examples, if a seller is aware of a death that has occurred in their home, it may be best for them to disclose it, even if there is no law requiring them to do so.  

Most often, buyers will eventually find out what happened from the neighbours after they’ve moved in. For many people, learning this kind of information after the fact can be quite upsetting. We think the best way to avoid this is to disclose up front any facts that may have the potential to cause concerns. It’s just the right thing to do! 

If you have any questions about the information you need to disclose when selling a home don't hesitate to contact Team Broady today at 514-613-2988 or info@teambroady.ca.