A woman who was attempting to remove furniture from an apartment she rented is claiming she was manhandled and threatened by one of the landlords as a dispute over a sublet boiled over.
The landlord has denied harming the woman and claims she had no right to be in the apartment as the lease had expired. She was therefore removed from the property.
The incident occurred on Wednesday, when the tenant, who asked to be identified only by her first name Sabine, went to drop off her keys and remove furniture on what she said was the last day of the lease of the San Ġwann apartment.
However, on arrival, she discovered that the locks had been changed and the landlady, Lucinda and her husband were inside the apartment.
A heated argument ensued and Sabine said she recorded footage on her mobile phone as the landlady’s husband, identified in the footage as Charlie, repeatedly insulted her and told her to leave.
In the footage, Sabine can be heard telling the landlords that she would be reporting the aggressive behaviour to the police, to which Charlie replied “the sink police”, in reference to a cracked bathroom sink in the apartment.
Lucinda then appears in the footage and berates Sabine for not telling her that she broke the sink. Sabine says that the damage was caused by a handyman who entered her apartment while she was abroad last month.
The man continues to shout at Sabine and prevents her from taking her furniture, while his wife attempts to restrain him from getting close to her, telling him to “leave her alone”.
After freeing himself from his wife’s grasp, the man continues to swear profusely as he grabs Sabine and forces her out of the apartment.
Sabine said she had always had a rocky relationship with her landlords, who she claimed, entered the apartment and bedrooms while she wasn’t there and often started arguments with her. Things soured further when she sublet one of the bedrooms in the apartment, which, she claims didn’t violate the terms of her lease.
In documents seen by Times of Malta, Lucinda had filed a complaint about the sublet with the Housing Authority, seeking to terminate Sabine’s lease. But the authority ruled that this was not sufficient reason to do so.
Sabine then terminated the lease on her own accord and informed Lucinda through her lawyer to take the final month’s rent through her deposit.
Sabine estimates that there is some €1349 worth of her furniture still stuck in the apartment.
“There was no reason for them to act like that, I always was a good, responsible and clean tenant, not if there is any justifiable reason to attack a girl,” she said.
“Even if there were thousands of euros in damage, that primitive and inhuman reaction was unjustifiable.”
The police confirmed that they had responded to the incident on Wednesday evening and that a report was subsequently filed at the St Julian’s police station. An investigation is still ongoing, a police spokesperson said.
When contacted for comment, Lucinda denied that her husband had attacked Sabine and said he was removing her from the property after she showed up without notice.
She confirmed that she had a poor relationship with Sabine and that she sought to terminate the lease because of the subletting issue. Sabine used to have guests over for long stays, with neighbours complaining about the noise.
She insisted that the subletting did in fact violate the terms of the rental agreement and after warning Sabine not to do it again, they sent her a legal letter when she persisted.
The couple says that after inspecting the property following Sabine’s departure, they found damage to the sink as well as a shower tray. They were also left with a dirty kitchen.
Lucinda argued that she was owed money for the damage, and admitted that she prevented Sabine from taking the furniture on Wednesday.
“She doesn't want to pay for the damages and keeps insisting on taking the desk, which I found very unfair,” she said. “She also left an internet dongle behind, but we gave that back to her.”
Sabine maintains that she had a right to access the property because her lease was meant to be up at the end of the month. She denies causing any damage to the apartment.
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