The Pennsylvania Superior Court refused to find that a seller of real estate was required to disclose that a murder suicide took place in a home.
In Milliken v. Jacono et. al. the buyer sought to impose a duty to disclose a murder suicide in the sale of residential real estate in Pennsylvania. The buyer argued that : “the offending defect” was “certain psychological damage to the property occasioned by the murder/suicide”. The case was dismissed on summary judgment and on appeal the buyer failed to convince the Pa Superior Court to extend the duty to disclose to the seller of the home.
The Pa Superior Court in refusing to extend the duty to disclose by a seller noted the following problems that it would pose:
- “First, how recent must the murder be that the seller must inform the buyer?”
- “Second, how can a monetary value possibly be assigned to the psychological damage to a house caused by a murder?
- "Third, is this disclosure limited to murder, or must other crimes be revealed also?”
This case is victory for sellers of real estate. Currently, the Pennsylvania Real Estate Disclosure Law (“RESDL”) requires a seller to disclose 16 categories of information. It makes you wonder how any property gets sold in Pennsylvania. The Superior Court got this one right. There was no need to expand the requirements of the RESDL and if they had it would have opened a Pandora’s Box!