~Written By Bobby Elgee~  

Increasingly I have become concerned as to ghost hunters responsibilities to property owners. On a side note, I consider my group a team of paranormal investigators and not simply ghost hunters, though I do tend to use the terms interchangeably.

The specifics I’m alluding to is our level of responsibility to property owners in letting them know of possible health hazards and structural problems that may exist. We have team members that are professionals in regards to heating, plumbing, and electrical systems as well as are well-versed in construction methods. Of course these team members also have become knowledgeable–through various encounters in their jobs–of the dangers of chemicals, mold, and other potentially hazardous substances/situations.

Just as I’m comfortable in addressing some of the potential psychological and perhaps medical implications of what appears to be a possible haunting–primarily by providing information and referral to qualified mental health and medical practitioners–these team members are extremely competent in providing information and referral regarding these physical/property-based issue.

If we are conducting an investigation in a private residence owned by the client, we will share each and every possible hazardous/problematic situation we encounter. Many of these circumstances may relate to the reported activity in the home. The obvious example are problems with unshielded electrical wiring that may contribute to feelings of uneasiness and nausea–and possibly visual hallucinations–to those that are sensitive to such things. High levels of carbon monoxide and mold are other circumstances that can contribute to symptoms that the home owner may be attributing to paranormal activity. We feel it is our duty to share this with our clients. Even if we see a potentially hazardous situation that is not related to a possible haunting, we do not hesitate to give clients free advice–related to our fields of expertise–in such situations. I would guess that most ghost hunting groups operate in the same manner.

However, when you are investigating a location where a renter is involved, this becomes much more problematic. I should note that we do not investigate locations without the property owners permission. We do receive a large number of requests from tenants to check out their apartment or house. Though obviously a tenant can entertain guests of their choice, we do feel a responsibility to obtain a landlords permission before beginning historical research and certainly before conducting an investigation. Consider how you would feel if you are/were a property owner, and a tenant of yours okayed a full-scale paranormal investigation of the location. Wouldn’t you want to know? In cases like this, we’ll share the results with the landlord as well as the tenant/client. In the vast majority of cases we’ve encountered the landlord has been very helpful and appreciative of the information we provided. We view this as an important part of being professional in our methods and tactics.

So, given the above, what does one do if when investigating a tenant’s residence and finds a significant problem related to the heating system? What if one finds a mold problem, that while may or may not be contributing to possible paranormal symptoms, obviously presents a health hazard to the tenant. I’m not talking about exposed electrical wiring which could be easily fixed at a low cost, I’m speaking to an extensive problem that to fix adequately, in the worst-case scenario could cost tens of thousands of dollars. Does one tell the tenant? Does one immediately share this with the landlord? Should one report the information to the local board of health, housing board, or rental association? These issues are problematic, touchy, and though it may seem like immediately sharing this information is “the right thing to do,” the solutions to these types of situations seem more complex than simply “doing the right thing.”

I do know one thing….When conducting an investigation of a rental residence where the landlord gave permission, they have given permission for a paranormal investigation, not a home inspection. The landlord hasn’t asked for a risk assessment related to their property in the areas of construction, evaluation of the heating, plumbing, and electrical systems and a mold inspection. I’m sure that any competent property owner would want to know immediately of any situation that puts their tenants–and thus themselves–at risk, but sharing with a tenant that the electrical system is outdated, then having them run to the landlord with this information and demanding that it be remedied is a pretty quick way to ensure that landlords avoid teams of paranormal investigators like the plague.

Perhaps we are being selfish in this regard. Through state landlord associations, cases of paranormal investigators causing problems for property owners would rapidly be shared throughout the area and definitely have an effect on the ability to procure property owner permissions that we require to investigation such locations.

As in a lot of situations, we must walk a fine line and remind ourselves as to the reason we were allowed on the property to begin with. On the other hand, as a human being, I feel the obligation to share any potentially dangerous situations that may exist that could affect the safety and health of the residents. We will specifically address any potential causes of paranormal symptoms associated with the situation, but we carefully chose our words in doing so.

Do others have experience and advice on such situations? My guess is that there is no easy answer.


Bobby Elgee; Sights Unseen Paranormal