The Haunted House - and other problems to face when selling your house
My house is haunted. The ghost and I get along just fine - but now I want to sell the house. Do I have to disclose the fact that the house is haunted?
When you come right down to it, the law is about people. Anything which people believe or do or say can wind up in front of a judge. In one case, an Ontario numbered company sued an entity from which it had recently purchased a property because the seller had neglected to disclose the "fact" that the property was haunted. [1784773 Ont. Inc. v K-W Labour Association et al, 2013 ONSC 5401]
It is undoubtedly true that some properties are worth less than others simply on the basis of the history of the property. Would you buy a home where a notorious murder had been committed within the past few years? Many people wouldn't. Homes which are associated with notorious events are referred to as "stigmatized properties."
The general rule about disclosure is that one must disclose facts which make a property unfit for habitation or dangerous. Such facts could be referred to as "material defects." Where a seller neglects to disclose a material defect, the buyer may be entitled to back out of the contract.
Was the alleged presence of a ghost sufficient grounds to allow the buyer to obtain judgment against the seller in the haunted house case referred to above? One of the comments made by the judge was that there was "no evidence before me as to how the plaintiff would prove the existence of a ghost." In the result, the judge decided that the presence or absence of a ghost did not create a "genuine issue requiring a trial with respect to the claim." In other words, case dismissed. Apparently, one does not need to disclose the presence of ghosts when selling one's home.
Article written by Centennial Law Corp. (Douglas E. Dent)