If buying or selling a home in Iowa is in your future, you're likely well versed the entire process from the initial offer to closing. But are you aware that disclosing a death in the home may be required? Here's what you need to know.
Property Disclosure Documents
No matter how perfect a house looks on the outside, there is often property information a buyer needs to disclose before the sale can go through. Property disclosure documents reveal known structural issues, neighborhood nuisances, hazards, HOA details, water damage, notable repairs made to the home and death in the home.
Rules for reporting a death in the home vary by state, and variations in rules may include:
- Timeframe: When the death occurred.
- How the person passed away: If the death occurred naturally versus due to negligence on the property.
- Hauntings: If the seller has knowledge that the property is being haunted by the dead.
So what are the rules in Iowa? Here are the details:
Iowa requires sellers to provide a written property disclosure to a potential buyer or their agent, either before they have presented a written offer or before the seller has accepted such offer, and it must be presented either in person, by certified/registered mail, or by electronic delivery. Iowa Code §558A governs the rules around property disclosures and the information required to be included.
Iowa requires disclosures relating to the condition and important characteristics of the property and any structures on the property (think of detached garages, garden sheds, etc.). This can include, but is not limited to any important zoning classifications, condition of major mechanical systems, presence of pests, roof repair/replacements and other items.
While most people understand a home's 'sale' requires such disclosure, the rules also apply to others transfers per the definitions in Iowa code, such as between joint tenants, a transfer between spouses as part of a divorce decree, quitclaim deeds, etc.
Though Iowa does not specifically require disclosure of a death on or in the property, if there was an incident and the seller was aware of remediation (or lack thereof) that could reasonably present a physical, structural or biological risk for the buyer, a seller/transferor is obligated to provide information in good faith. Withholding of information can leave you liable for damagers incurred by the buyer/transferee.
For a state by state guide on disclosure laws we recommend visiting this resource on Nolo.com.
Remediating After a Death in a Home
If a death recently occurred in the home you're hoping to purchase, there may have been biohazards from blood-borne pathogens that required remediation. Consider asking the seller how the death was remediated to ensure proper steps were taken. Remediation processes may vary depending on the location of the death, how the death occurred, types of flooring, and if the death was undiscovered for days or weeks.
Bio-One technicians are trained and equipped to properly disinfect biohazards from blood-borne pathogens, and we ensure safe biohazard material handling and disposal. Once the entire area is cleaned of blood and body fluids, we can also help property owners coordinate restoration to a location's pre-incident state.
If you are selling a home and need a biohazard remediated or want to ensure remediation was done correctly, give Bio-One a call at 515-776-1044 or complete this request form for a free estimate. Our experts not only contain and disinfect the dangerous biological materials, we carry out our work in a caring and private manner.