The downside to gentrification is cheap apartments suddenly becoming more expensive and “affluent”. This obviously sucks for the people who lived there previously. One way to prevent your landlord from jacking up the rent and squeezing you out is to invent ghosts — which is exactly what some tenants in America did.
This crazy scheme appears to be what’s going on in a Brooklyn apartment building. The property has been having trouble renting its apartments and at least three people who worked at the building have quit, reports the New York Post:
Aleksandra Scepanovic, managing director of Ideal Properties Group, confirmed that there has been high staff turnover at the building and said, “They have had issues renting.” One doorman who still works there told a superintendent in a nearby building that On The Park “is a messed-up place to work because it’s haunted.” “He said he was doing routine security walks in the basement and the back of the building, and every time he would go down there by himself, he would hear footsteps echoing around him,” the superintendent explained. “He told me he felt like a presence was following him.”
Before you go calling Dr. Egon Spengler, Gothamist managed to find a practical explanation for all this with the help of a little investigative journalism:
We tried to confirm the haunted smells today, though employees manning the door refused to allow us into the building’s yoga room. The spectral rumours, they said, were actually started by neighbours concerned that the new high-end development would raise their own cost of living.
Ah ha! Because nothing keeps people away like phantom smells. So, okay the people in the apartments next door start spreading their ghastly rumours to try to keep outsiders from moving in. But it turns out that even gentrifiers can smell a deal!
Other enterprising locals have tried to turn the alleged haunting into a bargaining chip: The front desk manager added that some prospective renters have attempted to negotiate rent breaks on the basis that the units already come equipped with dead former tenants, an inconvenience roughly on par with mice or shower mould.
The theory I’d rather believe is that a group of tenants has banded together like a modern-day Barbara and Adam Maitland to “haunt” the building with DIY ghost tech. It’s an absolute perfect setting for such a plot: The building was a hospital built in 1910 which lends itself perfectly to a “former patients who died in this room” narrative. It would only take a few Bluetooth speakers, a motion detector or two, perhaps a smoke machine to gin up some convincing specters. In fact, with the price of real estate in many cities, it’s a wonder that we’re not seeing more supposed hauntings. This is just too easy of an idea.
So if you live in a nice place and you hear some creepy bumps in the night, don’t worry, it’s probably just some smart neighbour trying to keep your rent down. Thank them!