The house that Jack built – securing tenants for stigmatised properties

Imagine moving into a home that was the central location of an infamous murder…

What if you discovered the living room doubled as a drug den, or the garage was used to sell illicit firearms.

Or maybe, the ghost of a local soul is said to roam the hallway …

Would you want to move into a home with a disturbing history or negative public stigma?

The reality is many house-hunters would rather avoid properties with tainted reputations.

Unfortunately though, many such homes are vacated every year, and it’s up to property managers to convince potential new tenants to forget about the stigma, and focus on what the property has to offer.

According to Rebecca Fogarty, Co-Founder and Director of Property Management Specialists Blackbird and Finch, a property is considered stigmatised if it has been associated with an undesirable significant event that has occurred (or which is suspected to have occurred), either on the property, or in its immediate vicinity.

While having no physical impact on the property itself, stigmas may affect the way in which prospective buyers and tenants feel about a property.

So, what sort of event could be significant enough to create the sort of stigma which might deter a potential tenant?

The answer to this question is varied, but may include:

  • Deaths (murder, suicide or natural causes);
  • Crime (assault, theft, drug dealing/use or sexual crimes);
  • Health related issues (contagious diseases);
  • Troublesome neighbours (presence of sex offender, aggressive or offensive behaviour);
  • Environmental conditions (soil contamination, aircraft noise, industrial aromas); or
  • Psychological factors (the rumoured presence of ghosts).

“It must be understood that stigmas are subjective and may be dependant upon the particular cultural or religious background of the beholder, including any particular beliefs, superstitions, or experiences they may have,” says Fogarty.

And it’s not just famous houses or well-known circumstances that property managers have to worry about.

News travels fast – and often locals will be quick to let new residents know about their new home’s reputation – so keeping things quiet isn’t a good idea.

“It’s better to be up front with the issue than have to deal with an angry call after the local neighbourhood BBQ.

“Agents should first obtain written permission from the client prior to disclosing the presence of a stigma and, if the owner refuses permission, the agent should consider whether or not to take any further part in the transaction.

“Consistency in this approach by agents will both protect the reputation of the real estate industry and help educate clients that deliberate non-disclosure of material facts is unacceptable.”

Of course, the real challenge for the property manager comes after the stigma has been disclosed – convincing potential tenants to give the home a chance.

But stigmatised homes are far from a lost cause, with many a tainted property going on to find very happy new residents.



Rebecca Fogarty will be speaking at The REIQ’s Practical PM Day, coming up soon, sharing the best ways to manage stigmatised properties, secure the tenant and manage your own mental health in the process.

Visit to secure your tickets.