Haunted houses can be fun, exciting and frightening around Halloween. However, if you’ve experienced some strange and seemingly inexplicable things around your home that you suspect could be the spirit of a former resident, it’s best to keep it to yourself — or at least not to widely share your suspicions. It could pose a problem when you decide to sell.
Do you have to disclose to potential buyers that your house may be haunted? It depends on how publicly you’ve made the assertion. In the so-called “Ghostbusters” case in New York, a court ruled that because the property owners claimed that their house was haunted in local and national periodicals, they couldn’t deny it later when they were selling it.
If you fail to disclose suspected paranormal activity to potential buyers after you’ve claimed it in the past, you could face legal action. Therefore, the best thing to do if you experience strange happenings is to look for a logical explanation.
For example, electrical issues can cause lights to flicker. It’s probably better to worry about having a potential fire hazard than a ghost. Many homes have sophisticated electrical systems that can easily malfunction and cause gates to open randomly or appliances to seemingly have minds of their own. It’s a good idea to have an electrician conduct a thorough inspection.
If, after that, you’re still convinced that your house is haunted, it’s better not to broadcast it. If you don’t, a court probably won’t hold you responsible for not disclosing something that no one can prove is true.
The law is more concerned with the reputation of the property. If your home has become known as a haunted house and you fail to tell an unknowing potential buyer from outside the area, you could face problems — at least the possibility that the deal will fall through.
State laws are more specific on the subject of disclosing suicides, homicides and other deaths that have occurred on a property. Disclosure isn’t required in Florida. Every state has its own laws regarding required disclosures for “stigmatized” properties.
If you have any questions about what information you’re required to share about a property you’re selling or what you have a right to know about a home you’re considering buying, an experienced Florida real estate attorney can help.