In Real Estate, stigmatized property is property which buyers or tenants may avoid for reasons that are unrelated to its physical condition or features. The common ones are murder, suicide, or even AIDS; in addition to a belief that a house may be haunted with ghosts.
Georgia Stigmatized Property Act states that a Real Estate Agent, seller or landlord is not required to disclose the following:
- Property was the site of a homicide, felony, suicide, or death by accidental or natural causes.
- Property is or was occupied by a person who was infected with a virus or any other disease which has been determined by medical evidence to be a disability.
State laws often provide guidance on how Real Estate licensees should respond to questions relating to the stigmatization of a property. Georgia is typical of the national trend. The Georgia Real Estate Commission states that under Georgia’s Stigmatized Property Law, the owner or agent must answer truthfully to the best of their knowledge when questioned directly about whether a property was the site of a homicide, suicide, or felony. In this case, the Real Estate Agent, seller or landlord must answer the question truthfully and to the best of their knowledge.
However, disclosing information about a previous owner or occupant having AIDS is different. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, persons who have tested positive for HIV are “disabled” for legal purposes. Under the Federal Housing Act, disabled individuals are protected from intentional or unintentional discrimination in regard to real property. The ADA also dictates that owners or agents not disclose information about a person dying from AIDS, since this could violate Fair Housing laws that prohibit discrimination based on disability.
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