There are a lot of things you want to avoid as a landlord, like delinquent renters, unnecessary paperwork and shifty contractors. But chief among these for most property owners is a law suit. Whether you’re being sued for rental discrimination or unlawful eviction, you do not want to be faced with your recent tenants in a courtroom, no matter what the circumstances.
So you can imagine how thrilled a Toms River, New Jersey landlord was to find out he was being sued by a couple that had moved out of his rental home after only a week. Turns out they thought they should get their security deposit back in full because the landlord didn’t tell them that the house was haunted.
After a week of what the couple has described as eerie noises, flickering lights and slamming doors, Jose Chincilla and his fiancée Michele Callan called in a paranormal expert to diagnose the house as haunted. The ghost busters (not their technical name, I’m sure) at the Shore Paranormal Research Society decided that the house was indeed haunted and the couple moved out immediately. You can visit the society’s website to see a video of their highly inconclusive evidence of paranormal activity (which is different from an all out haunting, apparently).
As you might expect, the landlord has a pretty different opinion about the situation. He is countersuing the couple because he believes what actually scared them away was the prospect of paying their rent every month and the ghost story is just an excuse to break their lease and still get their deposit back.
A tenant certainly has a right to know about the quirks of a unit before they move in, but it’s doubtful that landlords are going to start including a haunting clause in their leases.
What would you do if your tenant told you that your property was haunted? Would you give the deposit back?