Tenants Sue Landlord Over Haunted Property

A New Jersey couple has created a unique excuse for getting out of their lease. They say their Toms River rental house is haunted, and they plan to sue their landlords for the "paranormal activity" they experienced during their tenancy. Indeed, they say they experienced such terrifying phenomena that they could only remain in the ranch house for seven days.

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Among other evidence of haunting, they witnessed lights turning on and off by themselves, objects ejecting from closed cabinets and closets, and odd whispering sounds. They even say they felt someone - or something - tugging at their bed sheets in the middle of the night.

Tenants Josue Chinchilla and Michele Callan are not suing for pain and suffering they experienced at the hands of a wayward ghost, but rather for the security deposit they paid prior to taking possession of the premises. The couple shelled out $2,250 in security, and because they didn't have time to damage the place or cause other problems, they feel the landlord is fraudulently hanging on to their cash.

The landlord's perspective, of course, is likely that because the couple did not live out their tenancy, he is due the security deposit for breach of contract. The deposit could be used in lieu of rent until he is able to find a suitable tenant to take their place.

It seems the tenants are claiming the security deposit on the basis of constructive eviction. From their perspective, a haunting is no different from a cockroach infestation or a water leak that floods the entire house. If nuisance ghosts are making the three-bedroom home untenable, and if the judge will swallow such a story, they could be entitled to the return of their security deposit.

The problem, of course, is that constructive eviction is difficult to prove even if the problem is as simple as a bedbug infestation. The judge will want to see evidence that proves the unit is unlivable. Since the tenants likely will not be able to produce photographs, videos, or other documentation of the haunting, their chances of prevailing in court are considerably lower than they would be in a typical landlord-tenant dispute.

However, they may have some expert testimony to bolster their case. A New Jersey-based paranormal investigator has confirmed a haunting - specifically one that is "active or intelligent" -- and their pastor believes that the residence is plagued by a demonic entity.

The landlord in the case has filed a countersuit on the basis that his tenants have used a paranormal ruse to cover up their financial difficulties.