“The House is Haunted” – Surely the Value should be Decreased?


  • Author Clare Bickham
  • Published November 12, 2023
  • Word count 321

If your house is 'haunted' surely that would decrease the value of the property? That very question was decided in the 2013 case of Descas & Descas.

That case concerned an application property settlement after the breakdown of an 18 year marriage. The wife in that case, in what Magistrate Scarlett labelled a “bizarre twist”, attempted to argue that the matrimonial home was haunted and consequently the value of the home was detrimentally impacted.

The wife’s allegations that the house was haunted were raised, following the appointment of a valuer, Mr P, who was tasked with preparing a joint valuation of the matrimonial home. In her solicitor’s instructions to the valuer, Mr P was asked to advise on the whether the fact that the house was haunted effected its value.

Mr P, valued the house at $750,000. Quite unsurprisingly, the valuation did not reflect any adjustment for the alleged haunting, with Mr P replying to the wife as follows:

"Exorcism is not one of our many speciality services and unless the ghost was held captive in the room top which we could not gain access it must have been at lunch."

Unsuprisingly, Magistrate Scarlett did not accept the wife’s evidence in respect of the haunting. It was noted that the wife had always sought to maintain the matrimonial home, however, she had indicated that she could only afford to pay $150,000 to buy out the husband’s interest. Accordingly, Magistrate Scarlett made the following findings about the haunted house:

"I found this account of the alleged haunting to be unbelievable and I am satisfied that the claim was fabricated for an ulterior purpose, namely, as an attempt to influence the valuer to return a low valuation of the former matrimonial home."

Ultimately, Magistrate Scarlett held that the matrimonial asset pool should be split 65:35 in favour of the wife, and ordered that the husband transfer his interest in the matrimonial home in consideration for $189,288.77.

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