Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Would you live in a murder home?

Having worked in the house-building industry for over a decade I am always intrigued to hear what becomes of ‘stigmatised’ homes – these are properties which may be shunned by buyers because of their association with negative events, including suicide, murder or paranormal activity. 
Last week it was revealed that the cottage where Mark Bridger murdered five-year old April Jones was to be put up for rent again after the Local Authority allegedly refused to buy it and knock it down.
But with April’s abduction and murder still raw in everyone’s mind, who would want to rent a property knowing it was the site of such a horrific crime?
Homes where particularly shocking and emotive crimes have taken place are frequently demolished - partly out of respect for the family and also to allow a grieving community to move on. Not to mention prevent the site becoming a haunt for ghoulish souvenir collectors or 'terror tourists'. 

Who could forget the iron-mongered sign of 25 Cromwell Street in Gloucester that became synonymous with serial killers Fred and Rosemary West?
Dubbed as the ‘house of horrors’, the world’s press focused on this unremarkable terraced home as it gave up the remains of nine victims, including their own daughter.
In view of the media attention and recognising that very few would want to live in a house with such a notorious past, in October 1996 Gloucester City Council had the house and adjoining property demolished. In its place an innocuous footpath was laid to the city centre.
More recently the home in Derby where six children tragically died in a fire caused by their parents Mick and Mairead Philpott was demolished. The plan is to build more housing on the site.
Whilst the home where 12-year old Tia Sharp was murdered by her grandmother’s partner, Stuart Hazell, was also knocked down to give way for new homes.
Buyer Beware
But what happens to less well known homes where dark events take place? Once the police tape is removed, a slap of fresh paint and back on the market for an unsuspecting buyer to snap up?
Well until very recently this appears to be the case. Guidance stated that it was up to the vendor to decide whether to disclose details.
However, under new guidelines introduced earlier this year by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) agents, sellers and landlords must now disclose all manner of skeletons in the closet - ranging from ASBO neighbours to whether the home has been the location of a serious crime.
For me personally, houses don’t commit crimes, people do. However whilst I would have no problem living in a house where someone died of natural causes, if the home had been the scene of a particularly grizzly crime, I would definitely have reservations. 
How would you feel about living in a home with a horrible history? 

Perhaps you have even lived in a stigmatised property or know someone who has?
I am currently researching stigmatised homes and people's experiences of buying/renting and living in them. 

If you would like to contribute, please let me know below or email me direct at melissa_blamey@hotmail.co.uk

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