The downstairs neighbors (that we have never met) are suing us (criminal and civil charges)

My wife was born in Taiwan my children are also Taiwanese citizens. I’m here on a spouse ARC. We decided to visit to Taiwan for a couple of years so our kids could perfect their Mandarin while they’re still young.

We rented a nice apartment near Da An. Everything went well for the first 6 months. Kids were getting fluent in language and making local friends. We were all happy. Then it started.

Downstairs contacted our leasing agent to do a “noise experiment” because they claimed the apartment’s timber floor was causing too much noise for them. I refused to let them in. I told the agent this was a matter they need to take up with the landlord. Besides I really wanted nothing to do with them because it smelled like trouble. We’d been there for 6 months without a single complaint.

Our family live a quiet life, we didn’t have any parties, we rarely stay up past 10pm. Never have loud music or tv. From the first noise complaint we instructed our kids to “walk quietly”. However our next door neighbor constantly had parties, and the other next door neighbor had screaming matches with his wife (in Taiwanese).

Then downstairs started having the concierge to call us repeatedly via the intercom and phone to complain of footsteps. They were also complaining of hearing “Taiwanese voices”, none of us speak Taiwanese, but our neighbors do. I eventually disconnected the intercom and told the concierge that they were not to contact us about noise complaints. The concierge told us downstairs comes down to scream at them every night for a good 30 minutes, and that the staff didn’t like the downstairs neighbor.

After all this trouble, one of my kids (aged 12) started sneaking down the fire stairs and pressing downstairs’ doorbell. As far as I know he pressed the doorbell about 7 times over a period of two weeks. Downstairs put up a security camera and recorded my child pressing their doorbell. The video was sent to us via the agent. We wrote a short apology letter to them for our son’s childish actions.

One month later the police turn up asking for a statement. We politely refused to give any statement. Downstairs had gone to a lawyer and are filing criminal and civil charges against my wife. As far as I know the criminal charges are Article 304:

Article 304
A person who by violence or threats causes another to do a thing which he has no obligation to do or who prevents another from doing a thing that he has the right to do shall be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than three years, short-term imprisonment, or a fine or not more than three hundred yuan.

I can only guess that via some really screwed up logic that they are equating the doorbell pressing with a “threat” that prevented them living in their apartment. And how it involves my wife I’m not sure.

Now my wife and kids have a subpoena to be interrogated by the prosecutor’s office.

Downstairs also have a civil case tacked onto the criminal case. If the criminal case wins, so does the civil. This is apparently a common legal tactic in Taiwan, because it’s easier to win a criminal case, the burden of proof is lower. The police said downstairs are claiming nearly 1 million NT for all their damages. Including staying at a hotel and emotional stress … etc.

Throughout all this we have never actually met downstairs. We have never spoken to them. I wouldn’t know what they looked like if they were standing in front of me. The only interaction we’ve had is to send an apology letter, and that was sent via the rental agent.

Next year we were planning on migrating to another country where my wife doesn’t have citizenship. Obviously a criminal record might prevent her entering that country.

Does anyone have any experience being interrogated by a Taiwanese prosecutor?

This is some bullshit unless they can prove it was noise from your apartment I dont know how they can win.

However it may be best and more efficient to settle with them for some amount of money and move out. The 1 million ntd is a joke…

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Thankfully we’ve already moved.

We’ve been advised that even if we were to settle, that wouldn’t stop the 304 criminal charge if the prosecutor decides to go ahead. So not one cent of compensation will be paid to them.

Thankfully we have means to fight it, and potentially sue them for criminal defamation, and all our legal fees. And if they don’t pay (i.e. have all assets in one person’s name) I will pursue them into bankruptcy.

During the process they circulated a defamatory statement about us to the building’s chat group. We have it all documented, and a witness who will testify.

We also were told by the agent and the building board member that the landlord had many previous battles with downstairs about the timber floor. I guess we just got caught up in the middle of it all. The landlord used to live in the apartment but moved out just before we moved in. I suspect they moved out because of downstairs.

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You should start suing them now, apart from there likely being a time limit, your case may bring them to the negotiating table or even to drop their case if they realise you are not a push over.

Kids up to 5 tend to have a very stompy walk, unintentionally, as they tend to stomp their weight down on their heels. It can be quite unpleasant to live under someone with toddlers, particularly if they have wooden floors. We laid the thickest foam tiles we could get in all the areas our kids play and traverse as we previously lived under a similar family in another part of the complex and it was not fun. Their older nephew used to come around at the weekend and bounce a basket ball in the apartment for a few hours, but that’s another issue…

Are your neighbors local? Seems an odd complaint.

This is the part that will likely cause you issues. Are you sure this is all he did? I’d question the legality of the camera though.

They are claiming he did other things. But they have absolutely no proof. And I questioned my son, he is adamant that he didn’t do anything else. I can usually tell if he lies to me.

I know. Our new place has small kids upstairs.

My youngest is 9.

We have until late September before the time limit expires. We are searching for a good lawyer at the moment.

They are local Taiwanese. My wife’s family is 3rd generation Taiwanese and only speak Mandarin.

Your biggest mistake was to decline the noise evaluation.
there’s a special department attached to the police department to handle these issues between neighbors in a sort of arbitration.
I had a similar problem with my next door neighbor in a shared townhouse. They complained every time my young children drop the toy or walked up and down the stairs too hard.
they analyzed the problem, knew my neighbor was a little bit batty and they told me to try to be quieter. They were able to gather a good picture of the situation and the problem went away. Here in Taiwan refusing the police or authorities can get you into trouble. And again they prefer doing things via arbitration instead of the law. If you’re not doing anything illegal it’s best to let them in.

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What?

Man, I feel for the OP. We have similar issues, I hope they don’t progress to this point. Keep us updated…

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It’s simple, the neighbors made an accusation.
The police want to see our daily activity and how we make the noise.
The police learned about both sides. Tempo gain, you’ve been here forever you didn’t know that there’s a division of the police department dedicated to this sort of thing? Guess you were lucky or I’m especially unlucky.
Because we complied there was no chance of any criminal charges being issued.

This is the other departments name and they’re definitely connected with the police 環保局.
If the visit it’s best to comply

I was having the same kind of trouble, the police wanted me to sign some kind of pre-prepared statement, I refused :man_shrugging: It depends on the situation, and there may be situations where I would comply with requests, but I think the statement I quoted is quite excessive.

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I agree. I’d comply and did with their demands to search and test. And I would bring in some of my legal savy Taiwanese Friends to alter that prepared statement.
The officers were on my side. They showed me the “anonymous” complaint by half covering the name of the complainant so I could clearly see it.
All am saying is these are people who do this all day they’d rather not escalate things…
Your neighbors on the other hand will push and push if you don’t cooperate or defend yourself.

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The officers are always on your side. That I know!

Yeah, I’ve learned that the hard way. Never again

This is good.

I hate Taiwan’s defamation laws but it’s the way the dirty game is played here.

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Yeah you file the lawsuit back to let them know they will be a world of hurt if they pursue.
Remember it’s cheap to file a lawsuit in Taiwan and you don’t pay the fees of other side even if you lose (don’t quote me on that its what I heard).

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Agreed with Brianjones and others, once you countersue likely they will think ‘darn this isn’t easy money we’re going to get’ and hopefully drop the case.

It also is a twofold benefit. When the prosecutor sees a counterclaim he is going to want to get you guys to come to an agreement quickly to drop the charges on both sides so it’s less trouble for him. Hopefully you can then both make ‘apologies’ and both drop the charges.

I’m more concerned that this family might be a) heavily connected that they can get a prosecutor involved with criminal charges for something as small as noise. Or b) they are so persistent and annoying that they will get their way just by harassing the judiciary.

Contact a lawyer for sure

I’m sorry to chime in here too many times. In reading the OP original post I saw so many ways that he could have deescalated the situation. No one likes an “I told you so person” but in my experience here I’ve been through everything from bosses stealing my tax refund to the neighbors situation. Because I did not trust the situation and reported every irregularity to my Taiwanese Friends, I was able to nip almost every problem in the bud.
Taiwan is somewhat like a police state in a good way. They want to know where you live and where you stay. They can actually drop in on foreigners to make sure you actually reside in the place you say you do. They also don’t like filing charges or paper work. When the police ask to come in, and you really don’t have any contraband, it’s best to let them say hello.
If they would have done inspection, the OP could have explained the noisy partying neighbors.
When the concierge was repeatedly calling, the worst thing to do was to disconnect the intercom and ignore the calls. Silence shows agreement or hiding something. It would have better to get the concierge or an assistant to come up to the apartment and hear the noise coming from the noisy neighbors for themselves. The camera phone is our friend able to record the noise, date and time of the incidents.
It’s good that they were defaming the original poster. That is where the complainants made a big mistake. But, next time, if the open just opened the door, looked for a friend who is experienced in neighbor disputes to help represent him, he would have never been in this place. I’m going to crawl under my rock now. Good luck to the OP.

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