When your tenants tell you that something is going bump in the night, you may wonder if it’s all in their heads. Maybe you don’t believe in ghosts – or maybe you’re just not ready to admit it out loud. But you’re not alone. According to a 2021 study from YouGov, 41% of American adults believe in ghosts, and one in five Americans have encountered a spooky spectre.
So, what do you do?
Your personal beliefs aside, ask your tenants to check their carbon monoxide detector(s) first and foremost. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause confusion and dizziness among a host of symptoms, and that could explain their supernatural experiences.
But if their detectors are up to date and testing well, you have a choice on your hands. You can decide that you’re not ready to exorcize a spirit and read up on Halloween safety tips for rental properties… or you can descend into the wild world of ghost-busting with the TurboTenant team.
Signs Your Rental is Haunted
According to the supernatural experts at TeenVogue, there are 10 common signs that a home is haunted:
- Experiencing a strange, creeping feeling like someone’s watching you
- Smelling inexplicable odors from a localized area during a specific time of day
- Hearing weird sounds like whispering voices
- Seeing the lights flash on or off
- Feeling a sudden drop in temperature (usually between 20-30 degrees)
- Witnessing your electronics turn on and off by themselves
- Catching sight of a shadowy figure in the corner of your eye
- Finding missing objects in strange areas, different than where they were left or usually kept
- Having strange dreams that you haven’t experienced before
- Noticing your pets acting oddly
If your tenants have complained about any of the above and you’ve confirmed that they’re not being poisoned by carbon monoxide, then it’s time to lace up your boots and grab some salt. You’re not afraid of no ghost!
The Landlord’s Guide to Ghost-Busting
When faced with supernatural spooks, you and your tenants may be tempted to ignore the problem – but just like a jack-o-lantern after October 31st, that can get messy quickly. Instead, advise your tenant to:
- Ask the ghost(s) to leave. Remind the ghost that they’re not on the lease, haven’t been making monthly rent payments, and can no longer haunt the space. But, as TeenVogue notes, some methods are safer than others: “Do not play with Ouija boards or have seances. Opening the gates to the spiritual world willingly invites energy into your home that you don’t want there.”
- Cleanse the space. Burn lavender in each room, wash the floors with ammonia, and circulate fresh air throughout the property. Not only will this detox any residual ghostliness, but it also invites an opportunity for a deep clean!
- Armor up. TeenVogue recommends placing a black tourmaline stone in the corner of the room. This inky member of the tourmaline family is also known as schorl, and it’s used to banish negative energy.
- Invite positivity in. If your lease allows it, encourage your tenant to light a white candle in the rooms where they sensed apparitions. White candles symbolize peace, purity, and comfort – perfect to reset the space.
- Salt the perimeter. Admittedly, a certain amount of sense must be applied to this step. You don’t want your tenant to salt the earth, but they should pour a little black salt around the unit and the doorways therein.
- Dream peacefully. A sachet of lavender under a pillow at bedtime doesn’t just smell lovely. It can also ensure that ghostly figures don’t creep around (probably because they hate things that smell good*).
Congratulations – your rental should be ghost-free! If problems continue, such as people being sucked into different dimensions or their heads turning all the way around before vomiting pea soup, consider calling a professional.
Do Landlords Legally Have to Disclose Ghostly Presences?
Stambovsky v. Ackley
In the early ‘90s, Jeffrey Stambovsky bought a house in the Village of Nyack, New York, from Helen Ackley. A stranger to the area, he had no idea that the property he purchased had a phantasmagorical reputation – largely created by Helen and her family for at least nine years prior.
He went to court to rescind the homebuying contract, arguing that Helen had failed to disclose a key aspect of the property. While his initial case was dismissed, he returned to the 1st Department of the Supreme Court of New York on July 18, 1991 to try again. It’s important to note that the presence of ghosts was not being contested; the focus was on Helen’s duties as a property owner.
That said, the Court determined that Helen’s interview in a national publication and constant flaunting of her proximity to ghostly presences in the local press made the house haunted as a matter of law. According to Cornell Law School, “the plaintiff was allowed to seek rescission of the contract and recover his down payment [under equity principles]. The ghostly reputation of the house impacted both the value of the property and its resale potential. Thus, it also affected the deal between the defendant seller and the plaintiff buyer.”
In other words, Helen’s ghost goose was cooked because she made it publicly known that she believed the home was haunted, yet didn’t disclose that fact to Jeffrey.
Assuming that your local laws don’t specifically require you to disclose the paranormal and you haven’t gone on a press tour about the ghosts in your units, not mentioning a paranormal presence is legally okay. Just remember to put yourself in your potential tenant’s shoes, and weigh out what you would want to know about a space before committing to it.
Whether your rentals are haunted or not, TurboTenant’s free all-in-one landlord software takes the fear out of property management. Stress less by signing up for your free account today!
*I’m not a ghost scientist, so it’s simply my hypothesis that specters hate things that smell good.