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Stambovsky v. Ackley (The Haunted House Non-disclosure Case) 169 A.D.2d 254 (NY App. Div. 1991)

Stambovsky v. Ackley 169 A.D.2d 254 (NY App. Div. 1991) the Haunted House Non-disclosure Case is a very interesting read. Here's a brief re-cap as a law cliftnote so your eyes don't cross and you don't choke on legal eagle stuff. It's part of my reading list from my attorney girlfriends and I cracked up so much I had to take a break, pop in the Rain and share this with you.

My fave cliftnote quote is a question, then part of the answer: "Issue: Under what circumstances may nondisclosure of information by the seller of a house to the buyer entitle the buyer to rescind a contract for sale?" Part of the answer: Although New York follows the caveat emptor rule and the buyer is required to inspect the house for any defects, in this case the buyer probably would not have been able to discover that the house was haunted had he inspected it. Since D knew about the problem and did not disclose it to P and P could not have detected it, P was awarded rescission of the contract for sale. The court held that the caveat emptor doctrine only acts against those who do not exercise their rights and who fail to take due care. In this case there was no clue or objective standard to apply to P regarding how the ghosts were to be discovered."

Who knew, as a buyer or broker, you had to ask if the damn house is haunted? I sure as hell didn't (ROTFL). Geez... Did I mention my girlfriends were mad fun? If you can't have fun at work, where can you? My tutors sent me a PDF that floored me. It's very well written and the droll, dry treatment of ghosts tickled me pink. BTW, the six page Westlaw PDF file (Cite as: 169 A.D.2d 254) on this is fantastic. You guys have soooo got to read this. Seriously... Law briefs can be funny when you love irony. ;-)

My fave quote from the appeal contained in the PDF is on page 2: "The unusual facts of this case, as disclosed by the record, clearly warrant a grant of equitable relief to the buyer who, as a resident of New York City, cannot be expected to have any familiarity with the folklore of the Village of Nyack. Not being a "local", plaintiff could not readily learn that the home he had contracted to purchase is haunted. Whether the source of the spectral apparitions seen by defendant seller are parapsychic or psychogenic, having reported their presence in both a national publication (Readers' Digest) and the local press (in 1977 and 1982, respectively), defendant is estopped to deny their existence and, as a matter of law, the house is haunted."

Hmm... might want to think twice about what you publish in your blog posts and the comments section... Imagine hypothetically being "estopped" to deny what you published said down the road (LMAO). ;-)

 

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Comment balloon 26 commentsC Tann-Starr • September 26 2009 04:15PM

Comments

I guess you can't capitalize on having a haunted house when it suits and then deny it is haunted later when selling and it doesn't suit! Of course all the buyer had to do was EXORCISE HIS RITES!

Posted by SarahGray Lamm, Realtor - 100K Hours of NC Real Estate Experience (Allen Tate Realtors Chapel Hill, NC 919-819-8199 ) almost 9 years ago

Haaaaaaaa! SarahGray, great minds think alike. I made a similar joke to hubby (LOL). :-D

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) almost 9 years ago

BTW, regarding "stigmatized" properties, a 1995 amendment to NY State Real Property Law (Section 443-a) provides that an owner, occupant, or agent need not disclose the fact that the property is or is suspected to be the site of a homicide, suicide, other death, or any other felony... Too bad they didn't think to specifically add the spectral apparitions seen by a defendant seller whether parapsychic or psychogenic (LOL). Does his mean a haunted house is or isn't a stigmatized property? Inquiring minds want to know. Seriously (LOL). ;-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) almost 9 years ago

Ouch....this is almost as bad as my caveman post.....Exorcise? really?

Posted by Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner, Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395 (Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395) almost 9 years ago

Karen, you have a caveman post? I missed that. That sounds like fun! Send me a link. Embed that puppy over here so I can go take a look and the bay-bays can check you out as well. :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) almost 9 years ago

Lets go high-jack Karen (LOL). http://activerain.com/blogsview/1257124/did-cavemen-have-the-same-problems-as-we-do-

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) almost 9 years ago

C, That case is Nyack is famous I thought and honestly, I'm glad the new homeowners won!  I worked for clients not long ago and the day after closing they found out someone had committed suicide in their new home.  They wouldn't have bought it and when they questioned the real estate agent they were using, she knew but it was over the time limit she had to disclose.  She had some pretty unhappy clients now....and a bad name!

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) almost 9 years ago

Carole, that totally whomps. The sad thing is if the purchase happened after 1995 neither the listing or selling agent had a duty to disclose the suicide. Wow... I feel bad for everyone involved in that one. I usually ask people how they feel about cemeteries because a few buyers I met didn't want to be near one or pass one. I live in Queens and they are everywhere (LOL). I started taking them to Brooklyn. :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) almost 9 years ago

C...

I hate it when I''m estopped from doing anything!

Cool point of law, featured in the Group "Whacked!!!"

Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional (Richard Weisser Realty) almost 9 years ago

LOL @ Richard. Thank you for the feature. Very much appreciated. :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) almost 9 years ago

C:

 

"who ya gonna call"

"...the presence of poltergeists in the house, it cannot be said that she has delivered the houe "vacant"..."

"...a hobgoblin which should be exorcised from the body of legal precedent.."

 

Priceless.

 

 

Posted by Jesse Skolkin (Independent New York State Certified Real Estate Appraiser) almost 9 years ago

ROTFL @ Jesse. OMG - too funny. :-D

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) almost 9 years ago

Seriously, Carolyn...I subscribe to the theory of "if the neighbors are gonna tell, I tell" unless of course it is ILLEGAL for me to tell. DEAD silence works well then....(get it....) ;-)

Back to Karen's post...your fault. You get a feature. She gets jacked. All's fair.....

Posted by SarahGray Lamm, Realtor - 100K Hours of NC Real Estate Experience (Allen Tate Realtors Chapel Hill, NC 919-819-8199 ) almost 9 years ago

LOL @ SarahGray. BTW, I sent Karen an invitation to join the family. How could I not. She's fun. I'm gonna love teasing her. (LOL) :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) almost 9 years ago

Awesome! Somehow I assumed she was part of the family...I mean CAVEMEN!?!?! How you go wrong?!

Posted by SarahGray Lamm, Realtor - 100K Hours of NC Real Estate Experience (Allen Tate Realtors Chapel Hill, NC 919-819-8199 ) almost 9 years ago

LOL :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) almost 9 years ago

C- I guess the ghosts conveyed with the house.  ghosts

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) almost 9 years ago

Hahahahahaaaaa! Kathy, guess they did (LOL). ;-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) almost 9 years ago

And this is exactly why I never write about all the haunted houses that I list. Before you know it, some proves it is legally haunted and all hell breaks loose.

Posted by JL Boney, III, Columbia, SC Real Estate (Coldwell Banker) almost 9 years ago

ROTFLMAO @ JL. ;-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) almost 9 years ago

C,  I'm wondering if since Realtors don't have to disclose this information and a prospective client wants to know, would the local town hall reveal this?  Or if they had gotten a buyer's agent would they have disclosed?  The world of RE in NY is very confusing (to say the least!).

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) almost 9 years ago

Carole, my fave move is to tell the prospect, customer and/or client to Google the address and neighborhoods and see what comes up (LOL). I also frequently send them to NYC.gov and suggest they explore the agencies and public records available there. The Police, Buildings and Finance Dept have a lot of interesting records on file regarding properties and neighborhood stats. I don't answer school questions, I send them to their website instead. Keeps me out of trouble and lets them make up their own minds (LOL). 

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) almost 9 years ago

C & Carole:

Don't forget about ACRIS (Automated City Register Information System) for publicly filed documents such as deeds, mortgages, etc.

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dof/html/jump/acris.shtml

(you have to click on the link titled "BEGIN USING ACRIS" from the page above)

My favorite of the NYC.gov sites is the NYC Dept. of Buildings for building permits, violations, certificates of occupancy, etc.

http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/bispi00.jsp

 

Posted by Jesse Skolkin (Independent New York State Certified Real Estate Appraiser) almost 9 years ago

Jesse, I am always there. I send my buyers all the time. Thanks for the links. :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) almost 9 years ago

I never even considered 'activerain' until I read these posts.  Priceless. 'Exorcise his rites'. LOL

Posted by Emerson almost 7 years ago

LOL @ Emerson ;-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) almost 7 years ago

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