Whether you've just moved into your dream home, have lived there for some time or are perhaps just renting, there's a chance you may have noticed that something 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.
Ask the home's current owners via your real estate agent if you have not yet bought the home. While most states don't require the disclosure of a nonviolent 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 whether 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 the Resources section).
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.
- Cemetery image by ike from Fotolia.com