The city council’s policy on haunted homes

In October 2013, the social housing magazine Inside Housing ran an article on its website about how social landlords deal with complaints from tenants concerning ghosts and other allegedly paranormal activity. Far from ridiculing such reports, the investigation revealed that:

[S]ocial landlords have frequently contacted exorcists and spiritual mediums, in some cases moved people up the housing list, and even transferred tenants into alternative accommodation to deal with the problem.
(Nick Duxbury, ‘Haunted Houses‘.)

The large majority of councils and housing associations approached by the magazine were unable to respond to an FOI request concerning their policy towards ghosts. Brighton & Hove City Council was among these, so I decided to make a quick, informal call to see what I could find out.

I spoke with someone in the Housing Customer Services Team, who gave a polite and distinct impression that ghosts were not something they had dealt with very frequently (if ever). In response to my question whether the council would investigate such a complaint, I was advised that the service team would probably first ask for evidence that the property was haunted, and then — on the basis of the response — pass on the request to whatever team was equipped to deal with what seemed the underlying issue.

Like many of the landlords cited in the Inside Housing article, the staff member at Brighton & Hove assured me that a complaint of this kind was too serious to be lightly dismissed, but would be addressed in some form, even if this might not entail taking it at face value.

Personally, I felt encouraged by the way that exorcists and mediums were not mentioned during our conversation. (Judging from the contents of the Inside Housing article, housing associations seem more prone to resort to these; councils may be more conscious of having to account for how they spend public money.) But the request to the tenant to provide evidence for the haunting struck me as a little daunting, considering the absence from mainstream science so far of any generally accepted proof.

For a tenant confronted with the task of convincing their landlord that a disturbance is genuine, or for a landlord requiring more substance before deciding on a course of action, an ethical and evidence-led local investigation team (such as ourselves) might prove a useful resource. If you think we could help, contact us.

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