Ten­ant says Se­nior Po­lice Of­fi­cer/ Land­lord has Bro­ken her Oath!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - Clau­dia Elei­box

Afam­ily of two par­ents and three young chil­dren came home on Novem­ber 2 to find their front door miss­ing. They be­lieve the per­son re­spon­si­ble is their land­lord, an As­sis­tant Po­lice Com­mis­sioner, and not with­out cause.

The events lead­ing up to the miss­ing door be­gan on Au­gust 28 this year when the fam­ily claim they were mov­ing some of their be­long­ings into the apart­ment four days be­fore they were sched­uled to move in—with their land­lord’s per­mis­sion. At around 9:30 that night they re­vis­ited the house to find the apart­ment flooded and most of their pos­ses­sions dam­aged. The land­lord came to their as­sis­tance, and helped clear the wa­ter out of the apart­ment and aided them with wash­ing their clothes which also got wet the day af­ter. They also shared a cup of tea and a ba­nana.

Ac­cord­ing to the fam­ily, they re­quested a one-year lease upon se­cur­ing the apart­ment for rental and it was pro­posed they have a dis­cus­sion about the wa­ter-dam­aged prop­erty later on. The ten­ant had dis­cov­ered that the wa­ter that caused the flood orig­i­nated from a dam­aged toi­let in the apart­ment, which was later par­tially re­paired by a plumber. But the ten­ant’s wife re­fused to sign a monthly agree­ment when she re­al­ized the date cited was Au­gust 27 and not Septem­ber 1 as dis­cussed with the land­lord. What she and her hus­band wanted was a year’s lease. The land­lord in­di­cated she would not be pay­ing for any dam­ages and later sent an evic­tion no­tice re­quir­ing the fam­ily to va­cate her premises by Oc­to­ber 31.

The wife in the fam­ily showed this re­porter doc­u­ments that seemed to show she had al­ready de­liv­ered a cheque to her abruptly re­luc­tant land­lord for two months’ rent and a se­cu­rity de­posit. The Au­gust 19 cheque was cashed by her land­lord, the po­lice of­fi­cer, on Au­gust 28. The ten­ant turned to act­ing po­lice com­mis­sioner Mil­ton De­sir for as­sis­tance. “I called him and he said, ‘You know what, you will have to take the mat­ter to court. She’s not go­ing to pay. I tried to talk to her and I can­not do any­thing about the sit­u­a­tion.’ ”

The ten­ant went on: “Our lawyer ad­vised us to ig­nore her and look for an­other place, so we didn’t say any­thing to her.” Some­how the house owner found out what was go­ing on. Ac­cord­ing to the ten­ant the house owner started spew­ing in­sults and in­for­ma­tion about her fam­ily that could be found only on a po­lice data­base. She says the land­lord wielded her rank in the po­lice force to de­ter mak­ing any of­fi­cial com­plaint.

Said the ten­ant: “How­ever, I went to the po­lice to make a re­port be­cause I saw what the woman was do­ing was ha­rass­ment. I did not want it to con­tinue.” She claims the of­fi­cer who took the re­port said, “No, this is unac­cept­able, she has to give you 90 days’ no­tice; that’s the more ap­pro­pri­ate time.”

The ten­ant con­tin­ued: “Then he asked me if I knew the home­owner’s full name. When I told him, he and some other of­fi­cers burst out laugh­ing. They gave me the im­pres­sion she was not one to be messed with. The of­fi­cer who had heard my re­port said, ‘Ma’am, we can­not take your re­port be­cause this lady is our boss and there is no­body here that could dis­ci­pline her.’ ”

The “ha­rassed” ten­ant’s next stop was the Min­istry of Home Af­fairs. She com­plained to per­ma­nent sec­re­tary El­iz­a­beth Bai­ley, per­chance she would pass on the word to the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion. The ten­ant and her hus­band were ad­vised, for their own safety, to first get an­other apart­ment be­fore they did any­thing fur­ther. Mean­while they claim they re­ceived a ver­bal apol­ogy from Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Sev­erin Monch­ery who as­serted that the home­owner’s be­hav­iour was not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the RSLPF.

The cou­ple main­tain that on Novem­ber 1 their lawyer on sev­eral oc­ca­sions at­tempted to reach the home­owner’s lawyer to say the fam­ily had been un­able to find al­ter­na­tive hous­ing. A friend was as­sist­ing with pack­ing their be­long­ings while the par­ents were at work, when the owner came into the apart­ment and started ques­tion­ing him. The next day the friend video­taped him­self look­ing out of a win­dow of the apart­ment and speak­ing with two men who the ten­ants claim to be out-of-uni­form po­lice of­fi­cers. The men were ask­ing the friend to open the door, one said so they could check out a prob­lem with it. Asked who said there was a prob­lem, the man replied, “The owner of the place.” There is loud bang­ing in the record­ing I was shown, then the two men push the door open and walk into the apart­ment with crow­bars. The ten­ants said the door was com­pletely re­moved by the men af­ter­wards. I was also shown an ex­change of text mes­sages be­tween the home­owner and her ten­ants, in­clud­ing one from the land­lord say­ing she knew noth­ing of the break-in and that the fam­ily should re­port their al­le­ga­tions to the po­lice.

There are other videos, one show­ing the home­owner, ac­com­pa­nied by a po­lice of­fi­cer, ac­cus­ing the fam­ily of do­ing the dam­age to the door and sab­o­tag­ing a toi­let. The ac­com­pa­ny­ing of­fi­cer tells the ten­ant: “This is the lady’s prop­erty and you’re not sup­posed to be here.” The ten­ant’s re­ac­tion: “Is this why she took down the door?”

The com­plain­ing cou­ple and their chil­dren have since moved to dif­fer­ent premises. In the mean­time, they have been in con­stant con­tact with the po­lice com­mis­sioner but are still wait­ing for up­dates about their re­ports to the PSC, and in­for­ma­tion on the next steps for­ward.

“I feel as if I’m deal­ing with a po­lice mafia,” said the fe­male mem­ber, “I don’t know what will come of this sit­u­a­tion. If we didn’t have a record­ing, if we didn’t have some­body at the apart­ment, I dare not imag­ine what would have hap­pened. That po­lice of­fi­cer who owns the apart­ment has bro­ken her oath to serve and pro­tect cit­i­zens. Now my hus­band and I are al­ways look­ing over our shoul­ders. We al­ways have to look at our backs to a point that we feel as if we need to file for a firearm. We need to keep our­selves safe, Saint Lu­cia is a very small coun­try.”

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