Thu, Jul 05, 2018 - Page 3 News List

‘Evil landlady’ receives jail term for fraud

BAIT AND SWITCH:Chang allegedly deceived some tenants by showing them a good suite, but providing them one of lesser quality after signing a rental contract

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

The New Taipei District Court on Tuesday convicted Chang Shu-ching (張淑晶), who has become known as the “evil landlady,” for using various schemes to defraud more than 100 tenants over several years, sentencing her to eight years and two months in prison.

The court convicted 49-year-old Chang on a total of 22 counts of fraud, lodging false accusations and coercion that affected 78 tenants.

The ruling permits her to pay a fine in lieu of a 14-month portion of the prison term, meaning she could serve only seven years in jail.

Huang Tuo (黃鐸), 55, who owned several properties with Chang and was a codefendant in the case, was found not guilty.

Chang and her lawyer said they would consider appealing the ruling.

Chang attempted to evade the media and did not answer questions when she appeared for a civil lawsuit hearing on other disputes with tenants at the Taiwan High Court in Taipei yesterday.

A man surnamed Fu (傅), who was involved in earlier litigation against Chang, told reporters that he wanted to thank the judges for doing the right thing.

“This ruling has given us tenants some comfort. We hope to see more of these good judges, and less of these wicked landlords,” Fu said.

He said Chang refused to return his NT$30,000 deposit after he moved out following a one-year rental of a suite.

Chang has been indicted in another criminal case that is still on going, with the two trials involving a total of 160 tenants who have said they were cheated by her.

Over the past few years, Chang has gained notoriety in the news as the “evil landlady” for allegedly defrauding Taiwanese and foreigners through means including fraudulent documentation, hidden contract clauses, inflated costs and litigation against tenants.

An investigation found that Chang and Huang subdivided properties in New Taipei City’s Banciao (板橋), Sinjhuang (新莊), Yonghe (永和), and Jhonghe (中和) districts into individual suites, which they began to rent out at low prices in 2013, prosecutors said.

The investigation found that Chang allegedly deceived some tenants by showing them a newly renovated suite in good condition, but provided them another suite of inferior quality after they signed a rental contract and paid a deposit, prosecutors said.

Other alleged schemes included attaching clauses to signed contracts to force tenants to pay more money, such as extra costs for heating and electricity, and a stipulation requiring tenants to pay a NT$100,000 fine if they do not answer the telephone when she would call, prosecutors added.

“Chang knew most tenants were members of lower socioeconomic levels, such as students, single parents and people seeking work,” the ruling said. “Taking advantage of their urgent needs for housing, she deceived victims into signing rental contracts and providing the name and contact information for a guarantor.”

“In her numerous disputes, Chang filed lawsuits against tenants and their guarantors to seek financial gain. Her actions were a drain on the time and resources of the nation’s justice system,” it said. “The litigation also exposed the victims to judicial investigation and court proceedings.”

“For her offenses, the false accusations against 78 people and abuse of the justice system, Chang should be punished,” it added.

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