Halloween season has finally arrived in Louisiana. The weather is cooling, the houses are decorated, and kids are anxiously awaiting Halloween night. As most Louisiana residents know, the State of Louisiana has its fair share of houses with a “haunted” history. Ghost tours are abundant during Halloween season. Macabre stories of ghosts and murder are also abound. So, what happens for new home owners that discover that their new house has a sordid history of murder or suicide that they didn’t know about when they purchased it?
Although this question is amusing on its face, for new home owners, a gruesome discovery of their house’s “haunted” history may create great stress and anxiety. An unknown history may even depreciate the value of the house itself.
Surprisingly, Louisiana has little case law to discuss this issue. However, Louisiana does have a statute which informs home buyers of “psychologically impacted” properties that they will not likely have any recourse for a “haunted house” discovery. Specifically, La. R.S. 37:1468 provides that:
The fact or suspicion that a property might be or is psychologically impacted, such impact being the result of facts or suspicions, including but not limited to: (2.) That the property was, or was at any time suspected to have been, the site of a homicide, or other felony, or a suicide; is not a material fact or material defect regarding the condition of real estate that must be disclosed in a real estate transaction.
The statute further provides that “No cause of action shall arise against an owner of real estate or his or her agent for the failure to disclose to the transferee that the transferred property was psychologically impacted as defined in Subsection A.”
So, put simply, if you purchase a home where a grisly event occurred in the past, there will not likely be any recourse. Keep in mind the latin phrase “Caveat Emptor”. Let the buyer beware.