A property with a grave downside


empty tombstone on a graveyard

On first inspection it's a four bedroom terrace house in sought-after Teddington, with plenty of potential for a buyer who fancies a project. At just £650,000 it's one of the cheapest properties of this size in the area, and with some work it could prove a great investment.

There's just one catch - and it's a fairly major one.

The property

It has plenty of plus points. It offers four bedrooms and four reception rooms in a popular part of the country, so with enough work you could add £150,000 of value to the house.

It has some hidden beauty beneath the peeling paint and broken plasterwork. The property particulars highlight that the building is probably part of a former pub, which makes it one of three in the road of Townscape Merit, and gives it an imposing frontage.

The catch

However, when you dig a little deeper you discover the catch. The estate agent points out: "It is important to note that the previous owners' last wishes were to be buried in this garden, which is where both currently rest."

This is not as unusual as you might think. As we reported last month, around 200 people choose to be buried at home every year. Famous examples include Princess Diana, Barbara Cartland and MP Alan Clark.

Home burials are perfectly legal. As long as you own the freehold of the land, you can go ahead without asking anyone's permission. There are some rules you have to follow - to ensure the body is not too near standing water or a well, spring or borehole, and not too near the surface. It's also sensible to let the police know of your plans, and for the sake of neighbourly relations you should run the idea past them too.

However, you will be creating a property sale nightmare further down the road. In its advice on home burials Salford City Council warns: "The value of your property will significantly decrease if you considered moving after the burial has taken place. Many buyers might not even consider the purchase of a property that has a body buried in the garden."

Estate agents have estimated that a home burial is likely to knock £50,000 off the value of the property, as you will be limiting the number of potential buyers.

But what do you think? Would you buy a home with a body in the back garden?

Factors damaging property value

Factors damaging property value