A haunted house is a house or other building often perceived as being inhabited by disembodied spirits of the deceased who may have been former residents or were familiar with the property. Supernatural activity inside homes is said to be mainly associated with violent or tragic events in the building's past such as murder, accidental death, or suicide.
In 2005, Gallup polls conducted in three countries—the United States, Canada, and Great Britain—showed that more people believe in haunted houses than any of the other paranormal items tested, with 37% of Americans, 28% of Canadians, and 40% of Britons believing.[2]
In the case Stambovsky v. Ackley, the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division ruled in 1991 that a seller must disclose that a house has a reputation for being haunted when there is a fiduciary relationship or in cases of fraud or misrepresentation, because such a reputation impairs the value of the house:
In the case at bar, defendant seller deliberately fostered the public belief that her home was possessed. Having undertaken to inform the public at large, to whom she has no legal relationship, about the supernatural occurrences on her property, she may be said to owe no less a duty to her contract vendee.[4] Carbon monoxide as an explanation for perceived hauntings
ome of the phenomena generally associated with haunted houses, including strange visions and sounds, feelings of dread, illness, and the sudden, apparently inexplicable death of all the occupants, may be attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning.
In one famous case, carbon monoxide poisoning was clearly identified as the cause of an alleged haunting. Dr. William Wilmer, anophthalmologist, described the experiences of one of his patients in a 1921 article published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology. "Mr. and Mrs. H." moved into a new home, but soon began to complain of headaches and listlessness. They began to hear bells and footsteps during the night, soon accompanied by strange physical sensations and mysterious figures. When they began to investigate, they found the previous residents had experienced similar symptoms. Upon examination, their furnace was found to be severely damaged, resulting inincomplete combustion that produces carbon monoxide and forcing most of the fumes into the house rather than up the chimney. After the furnace was fixed, the family fully recovered and did not experience any further unusual events.
A report published in 2005 described a 23-year-old female victim of carbon monoxide poisoning, found delirious and hyperventilating, who claimed to have seen a ghost while in the shower. A new gas water heater had just been installed in her home, apparently improperly, which flooded the house with carbon monoxide when the victim closed all the exterior windows and doors and took a shower.