April 22, 2014

By Brad Smith

Ever wonder what would happen if you hear rumors the property you purchased may be haunted? Or wonder what the Latin phrase “caveat emptor” means? A 2014 Ontario Court of Appeal case answer both questions: buyer “beware”.

The purchaser of certain property heard rumors the property was haunted and sued. Essentially it was alleged there were ghosts in the building. The Court dismissed the claims for several reasons.

First, there was no legal authority that that a seller of property had to disclose someone died in the building, how they died or “there is a rumor that the building might be haunted”. Second, what little legal authority that existed was not helpful. Another Court stated it had “a great deal of difficulty in agreeing that elements whose importance depends on the sensitivity, phobias, sentiments or purely personal and subjective apprehensions that are not related to the quality of the building should be subject to compulsory disclosure.” Third, the purchaser had difficulties proving the existence of a ghost.

The Ontario Courtney of Appeal has endorsed this approach. See the trial decision here and the Court of Appeal here.

The take away is that you cannot sue because of rumors of a haunting. It is truly buyer “beware”!