Landlord loses lawsuit in haunted house case

TAIPEI, Taiwan - A landlord, surnamed Chen, lost a lawsuit yesterday in a case in which he pursued reparations from the parents of his late tenant, surnamed Hsu, believing Hsu's suicide to have depreciated the value of the apartment.

Hsu committed suicide via charcoal asphyxiation in June, 2012. Chen believes that Hsu haunts the property, which forced Chen to sell the unit at a 40-per cent discount.

The plaintiff believes that the house was depreciated as a direct result of the suicide, and that his claims were proven true based on the lack of both purchasing and leasing interest in the unit. This forced Chen to sell the house for NT$6 million (S$248,000), when he could have received NT$10 million instead, he argued.

Holding Hsu accountable for the loss, the plaintiff pursued a lawsuit against Hsu's parents, requesting NT$3 million in compensation for damages suffered during the ordeal.

After hearing the case, the Taipei District Court dismissed the suit, finding the defendants free of responsibility after deeming that there was no legal ground for Chen's claim.

The court stated that the suicide itself did not cause any damage to the property, nor did the action violate any of the ownership rights of the landlord. Furthermore, the selling price of the property in question was set at Chen's own accord, which was reduced possibly as a result of personal psychological factors and beliefs, which means that the loss can be only deemed as an economic loss.

The lawsuit was dismissed as it had no grounds under the first part of Article 184 under the Civil Code, which states: "A person who, intentionally or negligently, has wrongfully damaged the rights of another is bound to compensate him for any injury arising therefrom. The same rule shall be applied when the injury is done intentionally in a manner against the rules of morals."