TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Tainan District Court ruled on Jan. 7 that the parents of a deceased woman must pay her landlord NT$2.86 million in damages after she committed suicide in her rented apartment.
A woman in her 30s surnamed Yang (楊) had rented an illegal rooftop apartment from the plaintiff, surnamed Hsieh (謝). In early January of last year, the woman's body was discovered in the dwelling.
Police ruled her death a suicide and believe that she had taken her life on Dec. 26, 2018. Neighbors then became spooked by the "unlucky abode" (凶宅), and all the tenants moved away out of fear.
Word spread about the suicide and no new tenants were willing to rent rooms on the property. The value of the building soon plummeted, and as Yang's parents did not waive their right of succession, Hsieh decided to sue them for the losses incurred from their daughter's suicide.
Hsieh said that Yang signed a year lease with her that ran until the end of December 2018, including a monthly rental fee of NT$4,000, reported Liberty Times. Hsieh told the court that because Yang was an adult, she would be aware that her suicide inside the apartment would cause people to shun the property, making it difficult to rent or sell in the future.
She therefore reasoned that Yang should be liable for damages. Hsieh said that because the value of the property depreciated by NT$2.63 million and the loss of rental fees was NT$240,800, she would sue Yang's parents for NT$2.87 million, reported NOWnews.
Yang's parents countered that it was against the law for Hsieh to rent out an illegal rooftop structure apartment. They said that after the illegal addition was demolished, it would have no value and that the building would thus not depreciate in value.
The parents argued that Hsieh had failed to prove that she had lost that much money from uncollected rent after the tenants fled. They also claimed their daughter had not purposely inflicted harm on the landlord by taking her own life and that her suicide was a "lapse," but not intentional.
In the end, the judge ruled that the fact the apartment was illegal had nothing to do with Yang's suicide leading to the devaluation of the property and that her parent's objections were inadmissible. The judge entrusted a real estate appraisal agency to assess the value of the property, which had depreciated by NT$2.63 million, with rental losses allegedly amounting to NT$238,000, according to the report.
Thus, the judge awarded Hsieh NT$2.86 million in compensatory damages. The defendants still have the option of appealing the decision.
Those considering suicide should immediately call the Taiwan Suicide Prevention Center at any time, at 0800-788995, or Taiwan Lifeline International at 1995. Foreign residents can call the Community Services Center's emergency hotline at 0932-594-578 24 hours a day.