A Civil Action: Will Neighbors Sue Me?

by Matt Shamblin

The question may have come to your mind “If my house is haunted and it gets out can my neighbors sue me if it lowers property values?”

The short answer to that question is NO.  Any judge that hears claims like this related to paranormal phenomenon is going to throw the case out of his court room.

Generally dealing in property the old saying caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) is the standby. There really is nothing that anyone can bring up against you that will hold up in court in the highly unlikely event that it does get that far.

So lets say that it does get around that your house is haunted. The broad term in real estate lingo is called stigmatized property. Stigmatized property refers to any condition that buyers or tenants may shun the property outside of physical condition. This refers to murder, suicide or haunting.

There was one case in New York where someone was attempting to market their house as haunted (as a selling point) and later retracted that statement. So the other party was upset and attempted to sue them for fraudulent misrepresentation.  Stambovsky v. Ackley was decided on July 18th 1991. The New York Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the fraudulent misrepresentation action and stated that the realtor was under no duty to disclose the haunting to potential buyers.

This is the only case I’m aware of that made it that far. So I mean it’s highly unlikely that it will happen but it could and more than likely it will get thrown out. So in my opinion there isn’t really any risk or threat involved here.

So if it is a concern for you simply ask the paranormal investigative group not to disclose the location of the home. Besides any legit group should already have their i’s doted and there t’s crossed; they should have a confidentiality agreement that you sign and specify exactly what information they can release. We have one and keep one copy on file and the other is the client’s to keep.

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