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Hypothetical quandary of the day: Tell or don’t tell?

by Eric Nuzum May 23, 2011 at 4:00 pm 91 Comments

Run-down house

I love to discuss hypotheticals, ethics, and things that are squishy and hard to navigate. So, whenever I reign as Lord of Petworth, I like to pose questions to see what people would do.

So, here is today’s…

There is a house down the street from mine. About two years ago, things started to fall apart for the family that lived there: three generations of very sick, very obese women. First, the oldest one died. For some reason, that seemed to be the undoing for them.

Shortly after, their house was listed as a foreclosure property (word around the neighborhood was that they had gotten a sub-prime mortgage on the house–previously completely paid off–and couldn’t keep up). Eventually, they lost the place. It went so far as curbing them and all their possessions.

That’s when we started to get a hint of what happened in there.

Shortly afterwards, guys showed up to clean up the house. Mind you, this is after the two women had been curbed. These guys hauled out three dump trucks full of trash from that 1,400 sq ft rowhouse: boxes of stuff, broken appliances, and just…junk.

Then a few days later, another group of people showed up, seriously, in hazmat suits. They hauled out piles of garbage.

It appeared the women, all in bad shape, just threw all their garbage into the basement where it…sat. The couple living next door swears that they have been smelling garbage through the walls for years. They, and a few other neighbors, bought cats after the clean-out fearing that rodents living there would go searching for some new digs.

So, after all this drama, a contractor bought the place and started working on doing a fairly decent rebuild of the place. While there were a few cut corners, by and large, the place is now a complete, yet modest, renovation.

A few months ago, after sitting on the market for awhile, we noticed the “for sale” sign was gone and there were signs of activity there.

A nice young couple bought the place and are very excited to have a home all their own together.

Nice ending, right? Well, here is where the quandary is: Should I tell them about the house’s history?

On one hand, I feel some sense of obligation to tell them–simply in case they experience anything weird and dangerous (mold, rodents, etc) that may have been caused from its previous state. Also, if it were me, I’d kind of want to know.

On the other, the house has been completely renewed since all that happened, so any concerns from the past may be entirely moot. But can I say that for sure?

And just in case you are wondering–there is no way they could read this and figure out I’m talking about them. They barely know my name, let alone what I do, and certainly that I am the Lord of Petworth. So I’m not telling them by posting this.

So, what would you do? Tell or don’t tell?

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