Must A House Seller Disclose Coronavirus?

PART 1 – Michigan Seller Disclosure Act

The Coronavirus pandemic dominates the news right now, particularly as to health concerns far more critical than sale of a house.  Nonetheless, the oncoming residential selling season will soon converge with the coronavirus pandemic to generate this question: must a house seller disclose an occupant’s coronavirus or infectious disease?

Applying only the Michigan Seller Disclosure Act, which is the primary current law governing this issue, the answer to that question is NO under most circumstances. The Disclosure Act is based upon the Seller Disclosure Statement, which requires distinct specific disclosures and does not impose a “tell all” standard.  There currently is no question in the Statement which specifically requires a house seller to disclose coronavirus or other infections.  Moreover, the Statement relates to conditions and features of the HOUSE, not its OCCUPANTS.      The physical or mental condition of house OCCUPANTS is not addressed.

In rare cases, one or more of the Statement’s current questions might be “stretched” to include disclosure of infectious diseases.  For example, question 7 on page 3 of the Statement asks if there are “any known problems” with the plumbing system.  If Coronavirus or another disease was known to be contracted from the House plumbing system, a Seller located in Rochester Hills, Troy, or any Michigan community would be required to disclose that condition unless it has been remediated.

Hysteria, such as that accompanying the Coronavirus pandemic, has a way of skewing logic and the law.   House Sellers and Buyers must use all available knowledge and their ability to observe the condition of a house to make sure neither of them is on the receiving end of unintended consequences in the sale or purchase of a house in these trying and unusual times.

Due to space limitations, this is the first in a series of articles. 

Caution: This article provides general information and is not intended to be legal advice. You should contact LAMBERT LAW, 407 6th St., Ste A, Rochester, MI 48307 (248) 642-7774 if you are seeking specific legal advice regarding the topics discussed above.