Monday, January 12, 2015

A Tangled Web Is Woven When One Family Member Blackmails Another

Dear Tazi:

I own a lucrative rental property in a popular skiing town. I have owned it for many, many years and it has been in the family since before the town became fashionable (I inherited it from my Mom, who inherited it from her father). I have kept the place in good repair and kept up on the ever increasing taxes, using the rental income to reinvest in the property through home improvements and additions over the years. I hope to someday leave this income property to my only child, and I wish to leave it to her in the condition I have kept it.

My friends all understand that my property is a rental, and not something that I give away for free; my family is another story. I do not ski, so my cousins who do ski think that I should allow them the use of the property free of charge – because “after all, it is a family property”. They have absolutely no connection to the property! My grandfather, the original owner, was their uncle who turned down the opportunity to share ownership – and expenses – of the property when Grandpa first bought it. I have explained to them I several different ways that the property is not a “family property” nor is it free to use.

This week I received a “Save the Date” card from the daughter of one of my skiing cousins, informing me (as well as everyone else these cards were sent to) that she will be getting married on New Year’s Eve. I developed a sense of unease when I saw that she included the location as the ski town where my rental property is, and completely flipped my lid when I saw the accompanying note telling me she would appreciate if I gave her the use of the chalet and property for the entire week between Christmas and New Year’s – free of charge – as a wedding gift, because her plan is to have the wedding in the same town. Tazi, even if the place was not already booked for that week, I would not give it to this woman as a wedding gift! It costs $2,000 to rent for that one week and quite frankly I am not particularly close to this woman’s mother.

I immediately dashed off an email telling my cousin’s daughter that she would have to make other plans for her wedding venue because my property is booked. She wrote back a tirade of how terrible I have been to her family over the years, refusing them the use of my property. She also sent me a copy of my property listing on a review site, trashing me as a landlord and my property as an “overpriced dump”, adding that the 5-star reviews the place received were either old or fakes. I am positively livid, as the start of ski season is upon us and I still have available bookings to fill.

I would rather prevent any financial loss from occurring than sue for damages, but my cousin’s daughter outright refuses to remove the false and slanderous review unless I give in to her wishes. I will not be blackmailed, Tazi, but what else can I do? Is there any way to prove to the world her review is a fake?

Worried Out West

Dear Worried Out West:

Your cousins sound like a treasure; I would love to bury them in my litter-box.

My junk is valuable!

To answer your question, yes; there is a way to prove to the world that her review is a fake. You should contact the Customer Service Department of the review website and explain that the review is a fake and an attempt to blackmail you into offering someone a free week at your chalet. Once you have a contact name, send them the emails as supporting documentation. The review will be removed, although the damage it has already done cannot be undone.

Your next step should be to contact your local authorities and report this attempt to defraud you and your property. Blackmail is a crime, and your cousin’s daughter has provided more than enough evidence in her emails to you to make the charges stick, should you decide to file any. You may want to try and reach a civil agreement first, wherein your cousin’s daughter will be responsible for any financial damages you incur from her preposterous stunt. I realize this woman is young, and she sounds like a spoiled brat, so the threat of a criminal record could be all the lesson she needs to improve her attitude.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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