I just want to share this experience I had last December. We were moving out of our HDB unit last December and about to hand the keys to the owner when the landlady told our agent, who was also there, that she won’t return the deposit because the unit is not in the same condition as it was before. She complained about the velcro straps of the curtain that weren’t working anymore. She complained about the dust hidden behind the washing machine and above the fridge. The house was thoroughly clean and everything was in place except for those things. We explained that since we were renting it for almost 2 years already, the velcro of the curtains is a natural wear and tear. I offered to clean the dust she mentioned and told her that these complaints are not worth the $2,100 deposit.
What happened afterwards was surprising. When I offered to clean the dust, she said: “Why don’t you go back to your poor country Philippines and be a maid?”
I was shocked! I replied, “You should apologize because this is racial discriminatory remark and the unit has nothing to do with me being a Filipino. Do you know I can complain to the police about what you said?”
She responded, “I’m not scared of the police. I don’t care about what I said because it’s true. You come from the village like all the other poor Filipinos here.”
This is when we started screaming at each other, which I know I shouldn’t have done. Our agent mediated and we left the unit. The agent gave us back the deposit and partly out of his own pocket. It was unfair for him but he said he will get back his money once the landlady showed the receipt. Until now, she hasn’t. The agent complained about them several times as well and now he’s not working with them anymore for future leasing.
The next day, I filed a police report for the racial remarks, not the money issue anymore. The day after that, I went to the subordinate courts and they scheduled a mediation for us. I kept reiterating that all I wanted is an apology for the racial discriminatory remarks she said.
During the mediation, she didn’t cooperate (it is voluntary) and instead complained to the courts about how dirty the house is (mostly lies, exaggeration, and things that were already broken when we arrived).
I learned that we should take photos of the unit on the day we moved in and out. We also had the issue of her getting inside our house when we were not there. She also stored boxes in the attached room near the kitchen to the point that it was full and we couldn’t use it anymore. (We were renting the whole unit.)
Right now, I’m still waiting for the the second mediation schedule, which I’m sure she also won’t cooperate. I want to teach her a lesson that she cannot discriminate Filipinos like that. Hiring a lawyer would be expensive and time-consuming considering that I travel frequently. I wonder if there is anything else I can do. Thank you for your advice, in advance.
I’m still contemplating on whether I should press charges through a lawyer which will surely teach her a lesson. I have to calculate the pros and cons. When she received the summon for mediation, she kept calling our agent asking why I went to the police, etc. etc. I thought at that time, she might have been moved somehow; I was wrong.
The agent, though thinks it will inconvenience his work, talked to me and agreed that he is willing to be a witness in case needed. He can prove that I didn’t do anything that could have provoked her. The day before we moved out, she was sending text messages to the agent and my husband (the primary tenant) threatening to hold the money, accusing them both that they were avoiding her (which is true because the agent was already pissed off with her), kept saying that, “That is my house. That is not your house.”
I also want to add that I know very well the negative stereotypes against Filipinos and somehow I understand them. I was never sensitive about those stereotypes and always try to educate (sorry for the lack of a better word) other Filipinos about these and that we should not also be racist against others. But since what she said was directly for me and out of context, it got into my nerves quickly.
I also posted for those who are not yet aware that this could happen, and to know whether similar incident happened to them as well and what they did, and to maybe get other information like how much lawyer would be (even if I only want an apology in any form, not financial compensation). I don’t have evidence except for the agent’s statement. And I know that the landlady could easily deny accusations, create evidence against me, and so on and so forth. Having said that, I really need a lot of thinking on this.