Mon, Apr 13, 2009 - Page 2 News List

‘Violent house’ sale leads to eight-month jail term

DPA , TAIPEI

A man has been sentenced to prison for eight months for selling a house without telling the buyer that someone had committed suicide there, local media reported yesterday.

The Banciao District Court handed down the sentence to Lee Chiong-chi (李炯祺) on Saturday because he did not tell the buyer surnamed Chang (張) that it was a “violent house” — a term meaning that an unnatural death, murder or suicide had occurred at the house, the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) reported.

Lee bought the house in August 2006 for only NT$4.68 million (US$140,000) because a lodger had committed suicide in the house by burning charcoal in the bathroom. One month later, he sold it to Chang through a real estate agent for NT$5.45 million.

Lee ticked “no” to the clause on official papers that asked if the house was a “violent house.”

After the Chang family moved into the house, neighbors told them about the suicide and they became frightened. Chang said his little daughter could not sleep well at night and the family slept on sofas in the living room and dared not use the bathroom, the scene of the suicide.

When Chang questioned Lee, he lied, saying that the lodger burnt charcoal in the bathroom but died in hospital, so the house was not a “violent house.”

In addition to the jail sentence, the Banciao District Court ordered Lee to take back the “violent house” and return the money to Chang.

Taiwan custom says that a house in which someone has died an unnatural death — being killed or having committed suicide — is haunted. Most people are afraid to live in such a house.

Under Taiwanese law, sellers must inform the buyer of such incidents. If this does not occur, the sale contract is invalid and the buyer can get his money back and sue the house seller for fraud.

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