THE MURDER HOUSE

They had no idea that the home had been the scene of a triple homicide

A young man murdered his parents and his sister in their family home. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

A few months later, the home was offered for sale by a local agent. Prospective purchasers were not told about the home's gruesome history.

A migrant family purchased the home for $800,000. They paid a non-refundable deposit of $80,000 and signed an unconditional contract of purchase. They had no idea that the home had been the scene of a triple homicide.

A few days after they bought the home, the family saw a headline on the front page of a local newspaper. It read 'Death house sold' and showed a photograph of their new home.

Understandably, they were devastated. They could not pull out of the contract without losing their $80,000 deposit (and perhaps being sued for more).

They contacted their lawyer who said there was nothing, legally, they could do.

They contacted the agent - who was a member of a large network. The agent said he was under no legal obligation to tell them about the murder. The agent said, "You never asked us, so we never told you." [Sure, as if buyers go around asking agents at each house they inspect, "Has anyone been murdered in this home recently?"]

They contacted the state government's fair trading department and told an officer that, because of their religious beliefs, they could not buy the home. The officer said that, because they had signed the contract and paid their money, there was nothing they could do. He suggested they use their religion as a source of "comfort".

Finally, their friends told them about Neil Jenman.

When Neil heard their story, he contacted some journalists. The story quickly became a media sensation, making the front page of The Sydney Morning Herald and being covered by virtually every newspaper, television network and radio network in the country.

The public outcry was huge.

Finally, after weeks of pressure, the real estate network agreed to refund the family their $80,000 deposit. The government's fair trading department then took action against the agent who was fined for misleading the buyers.

Since this case, agents all over Australia are more inclined to disclose any facts about a home that may have a severe psychological or financial impact on the buyers.

FOOTNOTE: Although Neil does not charge consumers for his help, he does accept contributions to his fighting fund. In this case, when the family received their $80,000 deposit back, they made a significant donation to the Homesellers and Homebuyers Protection Fund (www.hhpf.com.au).