Friday, September 09, 2005

Spooky Scam: Call in the Meddling Kids

Apparently would-be restaurateur Christopher Chung has decided that he can’t move into an Orlando building he leased because it’s haunted. He has refused to pay the rent he owes, so the owner of the building is suing him. This sounds perfectly sensible to me: if you sign a lease and then refuse to pay the rent, you owe the landlord.

Apparently the Mr. Chung doesn’t see it that way. It seems that he’s a Jehovah’s Witness, and his beliefs “require him to avoid encountering or having any association with spirits or demons.” Fair enough, I say. All he needs to do is show reasonable evidence that there are, in fact, spirits or demons inhabiting the premises. Well, maybe not all, since I doubt there was a “void if haunted” clause in the lease he signed, but anyway…

Mr. Chung obviously doesn’t have any real evidence of supernatural activities. Oh, his lawyer says that "There have been several documented reports from subcontractors and others of having seen ghosts or apparitions in the restaurant at night," but people imagine spooks all the time, and I’m sure there hasn’t been a serious investigation by reputable scientists.

Hey, this would be an ideal opportunity for Mr. Chung to sign up for James Randi’s Million Dollar Challenge. If he can show reasonable evidence that the building is haunted, he can potentially win his case and make an extra million dollars in the bargain. Sounds like a win-win situation for him to me.

On the other hand, I think it’s much more likely that Mr. Chung decided after-the-signing that he didn’t really like the terms of his lease, so – in a move worthy of a Scooby-Doo villain – he cooked up this “haunted building” scam to get out of it without paying the landlord.

1 comment:

Lord Runolfr said...

It gets better! I discussed this with my wife. She's a realtor, and she tells me that, at least under Tennessee law, Mr. Chung could have a case.

Apparently any reports of hauntings or other supernatural activities have to be disclosed to potential buyers of real estate (I don't know if the same terms apply to renters). This is because such reports could be a perceived flaw to potential buyers, who might be sufficiently superstitions to believe in such things.

So at least one state panders to nonsense. Go figure.