TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Chang Shu-ching (張淑晶), who has been dubbed "Evil Landlady" by local media outlets for swindling numerous tenants over the years, has been sentenced to eight and half years in prison by Taiwan's Supreme Court on Monday (May 9).
Chang, who was notorious for using leases to trap and blackmail tenants, was accused of repeatedly falsely accusing tenants or joint guarantors of fraud or embezzlement in 2014. After being exposed and sued by 78 victims, she was sentenced by a lower court to eight years in prison for 18 counts of false accusations, three counts of fraud, and one count of extortion.
Chang (53), was prosecuted in 2014 for renting five houses for low prices in New Taipei City's Zhonghe and Banqiao districts, using inferior materials to break the apartment into suites, and leasing them out for around NT$9,500 (US$319) each.
She lured vulnerable groups such as students and single mothers, made them sign "bulk leases," and deliberately concealed key pages from the documents. She would also not give them copies of the contracts or would only give them part of the documents after they were signed.
Most of her tenants lacked experience, and they did not think to obtain the original or copy of the full lease agreement and did not notice that there were other pages concealed beneath the contract's stamped seal. Chang took advantage of their inexperience by secretly adding terms to the lease such as "four months rent for early termination" and false claims including "did not receive the deposit or rent because the tenant does not answer the phone," to justify a reason to increase fees charged to tenants.
Chang (center) being escorted by police. (CNA photo)
In addition, Chang also asked tenants to sign the names of relatives and friends in the "joint guarantor" field of the rental agreement, claiming that they are only used as contact persons to avoid rent arrears or loss of contact. Not only did the tenants fill in the names of their parents and other relatives as required, some even wrote down the "joint guarantor" information before deciding to rent.
If they changed their mind and decided not to rent a place, Chang would falsely accuse them and their "joint guarantor" of misappropriating the keys, remote controls, and other items. If tenants asked for repairs, Chang would often refuse to answer the phone and even force them to terminate contracts by cutting off power and using other tactics, and then invoke a "trap clause" (坑殺條款) that imposed fines on the tenants.
She pleaded not guilty to the first ruling in 2018 and appealed the case in a high court. However, in December 2020, the court handed her an even heavier sentence of nine years and eight months, of which one year and two months could be commuted to fines, while the rest could be appealed.
The high court found that Chang had committed 23 crimes, including 19 counts of false accusations, three counts of fraud, and one count of extortion.
On Monday, the Supreme Court upheld the high court's ruling, found that the sentencing was appropriate, and dismissed Chang's appeal, closing the case.