Diatribe: Breaking A Lease On A Haunted House.
I got my first apartment when I was in college. After three years of living in a dormitory, I found an off-campus rental unit that I could afford with a roommate. I loved having a place of my own and made many wonderful memories there. There were late night study sessions and an occasional beer/pizza/video night. My landlady required only “first and last month’s rent” and a promise to pay on time until graduation. I didn’t sign a lease. But that was a long time ago.
Anyone who has rented an apartment in the time since understands the sometimes complicated process of signing a lease. Over the years, lease agreements have become increasingly complex as changes to laws and requirements of tenants have grown and expanded. When I rented my first apartment, my requirements were electricity, water and heat. Today’s leases include provisions for these basic needs in addition to cable or satellite television, internet access and other often luxurious amenities. The leases of today also afford landlords with the privilege of guaranteed income throughout the term of the agreement. “Breaking a lease” can be a costly endeavor for renters who cannot fulfill their obligations. A variety of excuses can be involved.
Recently, it was reported that a New Jersey couple is suing their landlord for a refund because they believe the house that they’re renting is haunted. The couple and their two children said that frightening voices, flickering lights and clothing that mysteriously flew from their closets was enough to drive them from the three-bedroom home and into the hotel where they’ve been living ever since.
The couple filed suit last week in Superior Court asking for the return of the $2,250 security deposit from the landlord. The landlord counter-sued claiming the couple is using “alleged paranormal activity” as a way to break their lease. A judge will have the final say on whether the family will be able to escape their alleged nightmare.
I’m annoyed by frivolous lawsuits but I’m interested to see how this is settled. An interesting precedent could be set if the court allows this couple to simply walk away from their agreement without repercussion because of claims of supernatural problems. The way I see it, if they win their lawsuit every lease in existence might suddenly be worth less than the paper it’s written on.