Friday, June 23, 2006

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

Ahh property law. It's just about the most boring subject, but there is a compensation. Every now and then there is a case so off the wall that it almost makes up for the drudgery.

Consider Stambovky v Ackley, a NY case decided in 1991. The Stambovsky's decided to buy this big old house in upstate NY and made an offer and paid their deposit. To their surprise, they later found out that the house was infected with Poltergeists, which apparently had been a well known fact to those in the area. This fact, of course, was not disclosed to them prior to the contract. So, they sued to get out of the contract, claiming that the Ackleys had a duty to disclose this information.

The trial court did not agree, but on appeal the Court of Appeals did, and they were allowed to back out of the contract because, "As a matter of law, the House is Haunted". One of the more memorable quotations from the opinion:

While I agree with the Supeme Court that the real estate broker, as agent for the seller, is under no duty to disclose to a potential buyer the phantasmal reputation of the premises and that, in his pursuit of a legal remedy for fraudulant misrepresentations against the seller, plaintiff hasn't a ghost of a chance, I am nevertheless moved by the spirit of equity to allow the buyer to seek rescission of the contract of sale and recovery of his down payment.

Of course, you may have heard of this particular house. It is, in fact, the Amityville house.


Anonymous said...

They should have wondered why it was priced so low!


Anonymous said...

Ok, I find this one kinda funny :)

Sad, but definately funny...


Houstonlaw said...

I totally agree with the decision of Supreme court. It is the duty of buyer to enquire about the reputation of property.

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