Spy tricks in cancer woman eviction case

Malmö's council-owned housing company MKB has admitted to using "classic" TV tricks in its bid to evict a 69-year-old woman with multiple illnesses, local newspaper Sydsvenskan reports.

At a rent tribunal hearing in the city on Tuesday, MKB’s legal coordinator Bernt Waldermansson revealed that he had monitored the tenant’s movements by requesting her landlord to seal the front door with see-through tape.

“I think it’s something I learned from Perry Mason. It’s an industry classic. You put see-through tape between the door and the frame,” he told Sydsvenskan.

MKB said it was asserting its legal right to evict a tenant who, though she always paid the rent, was not living in the apartment for sufficient periods of time to justify retaining her contract.

“We suspect that there are a lot of empty apartments that could be used for people without homes. If a tenant doesn’t need the apartment we can cancel the contract. It’s something we’re looking at more and more,” MKB spokeswoman Helen Lindblad told Sydsvenskan.

The 69-year-old tenant, who has rented her one-bedroom apartment on Bennets Väg in the Rosengård district since 2005, told the tribunal that she was not in good health and spent much of the time either in hospital or staying with her children and grandchildren.

“I’ve never seen any tape. I have cancer and wonder why I can’t just be left alone,” she told the tribunal.

The woman struggled to hold back the tears as a series of MKB civil servants took to the stand and recorded all the times during the eighteen-month investigation that they had knocked on her door without reply.

“I hear people knocking but I’m scared. I never open the door. My children have their own keys,” she said.

Apart from sealing the door, MKB also performed regular checks on the tenant’s electricity metre as a means of gauging whether she was using the apartment.

In its submission to the tribunal, MKB said it had also spoken to a number of the woman’s neighbours who said they had not seen her for a long time.

On one occasion, representatives from MKB took photos from inside the apartment after they were allowed access by the tenant’s daughter.

“I let MKB in but I’m incredibly disappointed in them. They started taking photos of my mother’s empty toothpaste mug and empty refrigerator. They didn’t care that my mother had just come back from a trip,” she told Sydsvenskan.

The tribunal is set to reach a decision in the case in mid-December.

From the tribunal: An MKB spokesperson reads aloud from the investigation log (Source: Sydsvenskan):

September 3rd 2008. I put tape on the door for the first time. It opens inwards.

September 5th. There is post inside the door. The tape is broken. I tape the door again and read the electricity metre.

September 9th. No post. The tape is unbroken.

September 15th. The tape is unbroken.

September 16th. No post. The tape is still there.

September 18th. No post. The tape is broken. I apply more tape.

September 19th. Post inside the door. Tape unbroken. I read the electricity metre in the cellar.

September 25th. Post inside the door. Tape unbroken.

October 2nd. The tape is broken. I sense that the piece of tape has been discovered and move it.