Catrina McGhaw, a Missouri woman, had no idea that her house had a sinister past, and her landlord, Sandra Travis, wasn’t the one who told her, either. McGhaw only became aware of her house’s dark past when a friend of hers told her to watch a documentary about serial-killers. Upon watching the feature, she learned about Maury Travis, her landlord’s son, and about the crimes he allegedly committed in her current home’s basement.
After learning about her house’s mortifying history, she naturally tried to break her lease and move out. Travis’ mother refused, claiming that she’d fully informed McGhaw about the events that had transpired in the house.
Under many state laws, tenants have the right to know the facts about their rental, typically before they move in. Some of these state required disclosures include the details on security deposits, details on smoke alarm maintenance, presence of environmental and health hazards, and the identity of the person authorized to receive legal papers and manage the premises amongst many others.
However, Missouri doesn’t have any laws in regards to such disclosures as the one’s Travis failed to make, which means that she had no legal responsibility to tell McGhaw about what her son allegedly did in the house’s basement. This naturally begs the question: shouldn’t she? Shouldn’t state law require landlords to tell their potential tenants about any unsavory history?
On the upside, the housing authority took McGhaw’s side, and convinced the Travis to allow her to break her lease.
“Initially, the landlord was not willing to let her break her lease but we talked with her and eventually the landlord agreed to rescind the lease,” said Cheryl Lovell, the executive director of the St Louis Housing Authority. “In this state, there is no duty to disclose. Other states there are, but mostly that is for selling houses.”
McGhaw will move out at the end of July.