"As a matter of law, the house is haunted."

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Some friendly advice to Becca & Cade: make sure your clients disclose if they think the home they're selling is haunted...

No, really. While on break at the training class I'm attending this week, I was catching up on the latest over at GrokLaw when the .sig of cranesable caught my eye. It reads:

"As a matter of law, the house is haunted."
NY Supreme Court, Appellate Division
Stambovsky v. Ackley
169 A.D.2d 254, 572 N.Y.2d 672

Searching for the citation on Google turned up two hits with details about this case, both from the same site, with extensive analysis of the facts of the case:

  1. Helen Ackley was owner to a Victorian home in Nyack New York. For many years she publicized the house as being haunted.
  2. She openly conveyed, in describing these specters, that the house was inhabited by at least three ghosts thought to date back to the Revolutionary War. Phenomena included the appearance of a red-cloaked woman often seen demurely descending the staircase, a Revolutionary-era sailor seen with a powdered wig and an elderly gentleman sitting in the living room suspended four feet above the floor.
  3. The Stambovskys bought Helen.s Nyack Victorian house for $650,000 and gave $32,500 as a down payment.
  4. In negotiations, Ackley did not share the key piece of information that the house was haunted to the Stambovsky's before they signed the contract of sale.
  5. Mr. Stambovsky at some point after signing the contract, had had a conversation with a local architect, who, when finding out which home the Stambovskys had just bought, replied, "You bought the haunted house?" This was allegedly the first time that the Stambovskys had heard reference to their new home as being haunted.
  6. The Stambovskys later brought action to rescind the contract, claiming that the house's reputation or condition/state, by it being haunted, made the home not as valuable.

The Stambovskys lost initially, but won on appeal.

So, the moral of the story: if you're selling a haunted-house, disclose it!

—Michael A. Cleverly

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