A St Joseph woman has accused the landlords of her Little Diamond, St Elizabeth Village home of leaving her and her 13-year-old daughter without electricity since April 17.
Racheal Nicholls, 51, said she chose to go and live in the countryside for peace and tranquillity. But she has described living without electricity as a frightening and traumatic experience, especially at nights. She said her landlords Victor and Eastlyn Lewis have ignored continuous pleas to restore the power.
Nicholls received an eviction notice dated April 6 stating that she had 30 days to vacate the property. But she claimed that it would only be fair if she and her daughter have access to electricity until they leave.
She said because there is no electricity at the apartment, she is forced to take her daughter to the public library in The City to allow her to participate in online classes.
The mother said the landlord has blamed the volcanic ash for her apartment having no electricity, but she noted that other apartments in the complex, including the landlord’s house which is also attached to the buildings, have electricity.
Nicholls told Barbados TODAY: “My daughter is scared to death. We are scared in the evening. We lock up. We got golf clubs everywhere in the house. His [landlord] whole intention is to instil fear and terrorize me. It is interrupting her studies. It is interrupting our lives. We have never experienced living in darkness and it is having a psychological effect on us. It has been costing me a lot of money.
“She has been marked absent from school over the last four days because the teacher says she has to be present for registration at 8:45, but she gets in the library at 9 a.m. when it opens. She is in second form at Harrison College. This is somebody who last term had seven As. She keeps telling me that she wants to go back to Germany. I am so glad when I am on the outside. But when I get home I become edgy.”
The data analyst said the ordeal has caused her to put her own online studies on hold.
“I can’t do the same with my daughter. I just want the electricity turned back on until I leave.” she declared. “I am looking every day for somewhere to go. I even have boxes to start packing. I just want my light turned back on and I want water from the Barbados Water Authority as is included in the rent.”
Nicholls moved into the apartment last November 15 after returning from Germany in the last two years. But she said the relationship with landlord Victor Lewis began to break down on March 26 when the noise from their land mower disturbed her daughter’s online school.
She said while voices were raised during their conversation about the noise disturbance, the landlord sent her an email three days later to apologise for his actions, but noted that he and his wife were concerned about the behaviour she displayed in seeking to address the matter. In the email, Lewis also noted that during this unprecedented COVID-19 period, “let us further mobilize our Christian principles as we depend upon God to take us through”.
Nicholls responded, outlining to Lewis that this was not the first time her daughter’s online schooling was interrupted as a result of him engaging in activities that led to noise pollution. She noted that she reserved her opinion about Lewis’ “Christian principles”.
The next day, March 30, Lewis sent Nicholls another email indicating that it was unfortunate that they could not find an amicable solution to the matter and noted that foreseeing some challenges ahead, he asked the tenant to make arrangements to vacate the apartment on or before May 15.
On the morning of April 16, Lewis sent her a WhatsApp message asking her to pay her rent for the past month, she said. But after seeking legal advice, she said, she informed Lewis she was not paying any rent as he had given her notice to leave.
Nicholls said: “But before this, I never owed him any rent. I moved in on November 15th and the morning of every 15th since I was there I would message him on Whatsapp and tell him Mr Lewis your rent is ready. I went there, I paid my rent and we would be peaceful.”
She said in a matter of an hour, the electricity in her apartment was turned off, and when she checked with her neighbours they indicated that they were not affected by any power outage. Nicholls said she immediately called the police. When officers arrived just after 10 a.m. they asked Lewis to turn back on the electricity, but he failed to do so, she said.
The electricity returned around 3 p.m. that same day but when she woke up on April 17, it was off again. Nicholls said that after someone made attempts to get into the apartment on April 18, she again called the Police on the 19th in an effort to get Lewis to put on the electricity.
Nicholls recalled: “I went to a lawyer and I told her my plight and she wrote him, telling him he had no right to turn the electricity off because the bill is in my name and he had already given me notice to leave. She told him he should turn it back on but he has not turned it back on up to this morning [May 4]. All my attorney got was a letter from his sister who is an attorney at law but she said she was not responding in the capacity as an attorney at law, but as his sister.
“His sister said in the letter that the volcanic ash caused my light to trip. She told my attorney that the situation encountered by her client by the impact of the volcanic ash is a unique and daunting experience for many, however, it can and will be rectified and this letter is dated the 23 of April. But I haven’t seen any rectification. The neighbour is playing his music and enjoying his life and enjoying light in the house and I have no light.
“But Light and Power is saying if the light tripped then everybody light trips, why is only your light tripping according to him. Light and Power is laughing at the whole thing because if anything happens to the breaker then the whole house doesn’t have light, not only one apartment.”
Nicholls claimed she lost several appliances, including a smart television, washing machine, and a converter when the electricity was turned off.
She said: “He is saying now that all these appliances had internal faults. When he manipulated the light the things blew. We do not even know which other appliances are damaged. Now somebody ran into my car at the bottom of University Hill last year.
“So my right side is impaired and right now I have to do my washing with my hands and it is hurting me. I have no washer to wash my dirty clothes. I end up being in pain. Despite this pain, I still have to do my washing and stick [with] this intimidation and terrorization from these two people. I only came back to Barbados because my mother is 90 years old and wanted somebody here with her.”
Barbados TODAY made repeated efforts to reach out to the Lewises. There was no response when a team visited Lewis’ home on Tuesday evening. Several calls to the couple’s landline and to Victor Lewis’s cellular phone went unanswered, as were several WhatsApp messages. ([email protected])