New York State’s Legally Haunted House

There are many houses in the United States with a reputation for being haunted. But there is one house in particular that has actually been declared legally haunted by a court of law.

Anne Ackley owned a Victorian home that was built around 1890 in Nyack, New York and situated right on the Hudson River. It is a beautiful house, with charming period features. According to Ms. Ackley, the house was also home to three poltergeists. In fact, she had published several articles about her haunted house, both in her local newspaper and in a 1977 Reader’s Digest article. The home was even included in a local ghost tour.

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Though the Ackleys were afraid of the ghosts at first, they apparently weren’t too much of a problem for them. They managed to stay in the house for over 20 years and never reported any hostilities. There were no issues with the ghosts at all, really, until Ms. Ackley decided to sell the house in 1989.

A man named Jeffrey Stambovsky fell in love with the house and decided to purchase it. He wasn’t from the Nyack area, though, so he knew nothing about the home’s reputation. In addition, neither Ms. Ackley nor her real estate agent mentioned the hauntings in the legal disclosures for the house. When Stambovsky found out about the purported ghosts, he tried to get his deposit back, claiming that the house’s ghostly reputation would damage its value.

Ms. Ackley refused to return the deposit, so Stambovsky took her to court. Legal experts were astonished when the New York Appellate Court declared the house to be haunted “as a matter of law.” This ruling did not declare that the ghosts in the house were real. It only stated that Ackley’s various published “true ghost stories” about the home established its reputation as a haunted house. This could certainly affect its value.

Stambovsky got half of his deposit back as a result of the ruling. Also, this case established the rule that sellers must disclose if their house has a purported ghost or if it is reputed to be a haunted house. Though Ms. Ackley had to change her disclosure to reflect its ghoulish occupants, she had no trouble selling it for a good price. Apparently, there are many people who want to live in a haunted house. None of the home’s subsequent owners have mentioned seeing the ghosts, though, so they either didn’t exist or have since moved on to another plane of existence.

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