How to Find Out if Someone Died in Your House

by Contributing Writer

Whether you've just moved into your dream home, have lived there for some time or are perhaps just renting, there's a chance that you may have noticed something that was a little off. Perhaps a cold spot in the hallway, a persistent shadow in the kitchen or just a general feeling of unease. Whatever the reason, you may feel the need to investigate and see if at some point someone died on your property. There is no easy way to go about this, but the following steps should steer you in the right direction.

Ask the home's current owners via your real estate agent. While most states don't require the disclosure of a non-violent death, the owners are legally obligated to disclose all known material facts relating to a property. This means that if there was a death in the home, at any time, and the current owners are aware of this, then they must disclose this if you inquire.

Check with your city or county to access title information on your property for a list of past owners. You can then research these individuals on a case-by-case basis. You will likely need to pull death certificates to verify the place of death. While this is a time-consuming project, it's one of the only ways to discover if one of the past owners (assuming that they were in no way newsworthy) passed away on the property.

Use the power of the Internet. Once you have the names of past property owners, you can mount a much more effective search using the Internet. The property address plus the names of previous owners will allow you to find any information that is digitally archived (see Resources below).

Approach your local newspaper and see if they can assist you with a search of their archives. There is no standardized archiving procedure for newspapers, so the process will vary from paper to paper. However, if there is a way to search the archives by address, they will likely be happy to help you.

Ask the neighbors. It's entirely possible that your neighbors (assuming that they've been around longer than yourself) will have the inside track on your property. Neighbors tend to know a lot more about what's going on than we may think that they would, and they're often more than willing to share.