Among the many duties a Minnesota Realtor owes her client is that of disclosure.
As defined by the state, this consists of sharing “all material facts of which broker/salesperson has knowledge which might reasonably affect the client(s) use of the property.”
Both the listing and selling agents are bound by this. For example, if you’re walking through the basement of a great old Craftsman duplex and I point out the presence of asbestos on the pipes, I am disclosing what I know (or see).
Conversely, if I am the listing agent, both the owner-occupant seller and I are bound to share adverse information. This may be as innocuous as an incident where there was water in the basement when a downspout was kicked off, or as serious as a murder.
Are there exceptions?
Yes. According to Minnesota Statute 82.22, Subd.8, neither the seller nor listing agent are required to disclose the property was ever inhabitied by a person with HIV or AIDS, or was the site of a suicide, accidental or natural death. While other states (such as California) do require the disclosure of suspected paranormal activity, it is not the case here.
That doesn’t mean if a buyer’s agent knows, for example, that the property was the site of a heinous crime, however, they can’t mention it. With over 20,000 properties on the Minneapolis MLS at any given time, tracking it all would be humanly impossible.
There are also no disclosure requirements for the presence of a group home in the neighborhood, nor the presence of a registered sex offender.
In the case of a registered sex offender or criminal activity, Realtor’s are actually prohibited from disclosing the information, if they are in fact, even aware. (Hence all of the warnings on both the state’s listing forms and purchase agreements.)
A seller may also choose to have the property professional inspected before placing it on the market in lieu of disclosing information he may or may not have. He must then make this report readily available to any potential buyer.
Are landlords required to disclose a suicide? Murder? Asbestos?
No. In fact, Minnesota’s Landlord/Tenant Handbook makes no mention of a landlord even having to disclose anything.
So while it’s important to perform your due dilligence before you buy, and it is largely your responsibility to do so, remember you have the same responsibilities as a tenant.