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