Most of us have probably watched a movie, or season one of American Horror Story, where the haunted house is the main character. Unknowingly a family moves in and while things seem perfect at first in their too-good-to-be-true breathtakingly gorgeous Victorian, chaos, in the form of poltergeists and spirits, quickly ensues. The new buyer eventually decides to put the house back on the market, nobody wants it, etc, etc, etc. But in 1991 in the town of Nyack, New York this very thing happened that resulted in what is now known as the Ghostbuster Ruling. And because of this ruling, you never have to worry about accidentally buying a haunted house again. Let’s get into it.
From 1977 – 1989 a family with the last name Ackley lived in the home and repeatedly made claims that there was definitely at least one ghost that had been living in the home since the 1960s. In fact, the house even received national attention and was featured in a 1977 edition of Reader’s Digest, as well as written about multiple times in the local newspaper. The house, in fact, became part of a walking tour of the town.
Before we get into the legality issue, you’re probably dying to learn more about the ghosts. The Ackley’s hired a medium to scope things out and via the medium, they learned that the ghosts in their home were known as Sir George and Lady Margaret, a couple that had died in England in the mid-1700s. And no, we have no idea how they ended up in New York. Because there were two untimely deaths in the home, it has often been wondered if the home was under some sort of death curse. Whoever resided or resides in the house would often leave coins and trinkets lying around, as well as shake the beds to wake people up. (Not cool.)
Fast-forward to later days when the Ackley’s decided it was time to sell their house and move on. After years of talking about the spirit, or spirits, that also inhabited the home, the Ackley’s grew strangely quiet about it. Mum was the word with the real estate agent at this time as well, for obvious reasons, we assume. Eventually, a buyer entered the picture and his name was Jeffrey Stambovsky. A purchase agreement was made, and Stambovsky made his down payment, it wasn’t until after the deal was done that he then found out about the home’s haunted past. Upon hearing the news, Stambovsky felt this was a serious cause of fraudulent misrepresentation and when the trial resulted in a court dismissal, he took his case to the New York Supreme Court, which agreed to hear him out.
A team of five Supreme Court justices heard the case, three agreeing with Stambovsky, two taking the side of the Ackley’s, resulting in a win for Stambovsky. At the end of the day, the court agreed that failing to disclose a home’s reputation can be grounds for repealing a contract. This eventually came to be known as the Ghostbuster Ruling.
Of course, after the ruling and once again receiving national attention, interest in the house grew exponentially, with constant phone calls from interested buyers wanting to check the home out. Luckily in the same year, Ackley was able to sell the home.