Watch the video above: New website details ‘stigmatized homes.’ Sean Mallen reports.
TORONTO – Would you want to know if someone had been murdered inside your home before you owned it? Or if the former tenant was tending to marijuana plants in what’s now your living room? Well one website is hoping to give you, and everyone else, the answer.
Housecreep.com is a hub of “stigmatized” homes, listing homes where people have died, drugs have been grown or sold and even if a famous person used to live there.
“I think it does cross some people’s minds, I think if the information was out there, people would like to know about it,” site co-founder Robert Armieri said.
“I would certainly like to know if my apartment, or a house I was looking to buy, was the scene of a terrible homicide.”
Armieri came up with the idea while apartment hunting. He was cross-referencing apartment ads with the city’s Bed Bud Registry where people publish their complaints with the bedside bug when got the idea.
In fact, his own website worked for him.
“There was one apartment I had found, it seemed great, the pictures look awesome, it was right in my price range, and then I searched it up on HouseCreep and found there was a double homicide there as well as a stabbing,” he said. “So that went off my list.”
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Most of the entries are for the GTA with many in Toronto’s Regent Park, Cabbagetown and Parkdale but many of the other approximately 2,000 listings are from around Canada and the United States.
The website crowdsources it’s information. So anyone can sign up and submit the information. The website then organizes events into two categories; known events for stories that can be verified and unknown events for stories that rely on rumour.
Like Wikipedia, House Creep encourages users to fact-check the stories on its website and submit external sources where applicable.
“If people think something is misleading or wrong, they can say so,” Armieri said. “They can also flag it or report it to us, so we’ll review it and possibly remove it from the website.”
But real estate lawyer said misleading or wrong information on the website could lead to lawsuits.
“If they don’t verify and something goes up about the property that will affect the market value and its false, I think they’re opening themselves up to lawsuits,” real estate lawyer Mark Weisleder said.
If I’m selling my home, what do I have to tell the buyer?
There is currently no law in Ontario that forces sellers to disclose where a murder happened or a grow op was found in the home but Weisleder said if you’re selling a home, just tell people what you know.
“I can see why sellers do not want to disclose it because they know it will impact the value of your property.”
However, realtors have to disclose “material facts” as dictated by their code of ethics. The problem however? There’s no real definition as to what a material fact is, Weisleder said.
“The realtor is sort of left to their own to figure that kind of thing out,” he said. “But I think most people would say that a murder in a home is a material fact that would matter to a buyer.”
He said there’s “no question” that a crime being committed in the house would impact its market value.
I’m buying a house. How do I protect myself?
Weisleder offered a few tips to protecting yourself from buying a home out of a horror film. First, ask the seller.
Second, ask the neighbours. If they know, he said, most likely they`ll tell you if anything untoward happened in the home.
Third, put it in the contract.
“If you put it in the contract, the seller has to answer truthfully,” he said.
– With files from Sean Mallen