CARL L. FRAZIER, B, (R), PB, RMP
Owner, Principal Broker
Past President, Oahu Chapter
National Association of Residential Property Managers and
National Conference Speaker
Q. I rent out a home and my tenants are saying that there are spirits in the house. They open and close doors, turn on lights and make them feel uncomfortable. Do I have to let them out of their lease? What can I do? This seems so odd and unreal.
A. Surprisingly, this topic is not covered in the Landlord-Tenant Code! I think most Property Managers have come across this issue at one time or another. To simply answer your question, no, you do not have to let them out of the lease. If they leave, then they would be breaking the lease, in which case the Landlord-Tenant code under 521-70 (d) applies: If the tenant wrongfully quits the dwelling unit and unequivocally indicates by words or deeds the tenant’s intention not to resume the tenancy, the tenant shall be liable to the landlord for the lesser of the following amounts for sure abandonment: (1) The entire rent due for the remainder of the term; or (2) All rent accrued during the period reasonably necessary to re-rent the dwelling unit at fair rental, plus the difference between such fair rent and the rent agreed to in the prior rental agreement and a reasonable commission for the renting of the dwelling unit. This paragraph applies if the amount calculated hereunder is less than the amount calculated under paragraph (1) whether or not the landlord re-rents the unit. In other words, they are on the hook until the unit is re-rented.
That being said…is there something else you can do? Yes, there is. I would first of all be very sympathetic when you talk to them. Assure them that you want to keep them as tenants. Then hire or get a priest, pastor or some other recognized spiritual person out there and have a “cleansing” ceremony, whether you believe in it or not. At this point it’s not about you, it’s about the tenant. The tenant should be happy with that and stay. But if they are not, they may very well leave. You might want to let them out of the lease with no penalty. Up to you. However, if they leave, I would still recommend you do the ceremony. I guarantee you that even if there is no paranormal activity there, the neighbors will inform the new tenants that they just moved into a haunted house! Bite the bullet and do it. This has happened three times with my company. We had a ceremony and I’m glad to announce that all of our properties are “ghost-free”!