|Helmer Wieringa had an idea: how to get rich on other people's account. Using others would put good use to his bachelor's degree in psychology. It's not an original idea and Helmer didn't want much, only to retire comfortably with his partner Ineke Kester. So when he left uni and got his first job they became property developers. The set-up was based on other peoples need for a friendly listening ear with the trump card of giving the right compliments to feed their ego. People mostly seek recognition and don't see the how the wool is pulled over their eyes. But how the hell does this line up with property development?
The answer is through the social-legal construct of the body corporate. Like the politburo there is a mix of personalities and business where schemers flourish, so they bought an apartment and Helmer became chairman of the board. Then he got a loan in the name of the body corporate for a renovation of the building for a huge sum and included an extra renovation of his own apartment. He always works with his own people for planning and executing the works; the builder had no contact with anybody in the building except himself.
With the suggestion of personal benefits he kept a few other owners, especially board members from seeing what he actually did, applying his knowledge of ego and greed and what they do to people's judgment. Not much later the treasurer of the body corporate was forced to pay back tens of thousands that had gone missing, but Helmer knew how to stay in the clear while reaping the rewards of his scheme.
It worked a treat, they sold their improved apartment and bought a loft in a building called “The Standard”. They had now learned how to do it, so they started planning the upgrade of their new apartment. Inviting people for coffee, chats, compliments, blind trust and nomination of Helmer to be chairman followed. However there was a twist. Ineke had an obsession for the ground floor. They had wanted to buy it 10 years earlier but the current owner had been too quick for them. Ineke wanted to have her way and buy it, renovate it and profit. The problem was that the apartment was already in the process of renovation and the owner only wanted to sell through an agent, after completing the renovation. Her obsession worsened.
Helmer and Ineke offered the owner about a quarter of the value. Ineke offered using the apartment in exchange for renovation with added a little payment for rent. But she was refused, which really set her off. Helmer now used his position as chairman to target the owner of the ground floor, and started planning his personal renovation on account of the body corporate.
He demanded that City Council that force the destruction of the new interior of the ground floor. He said the status of the apartment had changed from commercial to dwelling. But instead of demanding destruction at once council offered – although under threat – the option to change the status of the apartment. That was not nearly enough for Ineke, who's temper flared to unbearable levels. To make up Helmer took a risk to triple the cost of the renovation of the building for the owner of the ground floor, not for other owners, to sort of smoke them out.
It was not difficult for Helmer to get the treasurer Henri Lantsheer, a small time crook who had emptied the reserves of the body corporate for years, on board. So out of the blue the committee announced to surprised owners that they now had a debt of “180000 Euro, oh no, make that 212000 Euro.” (In reality it was actually 186000 Euro.) “But if you didn't know, we have started a renovation on your costs.” They were of course prepared for objections and engaged several collection agents, and seized the ground floor. This made it impossible for the owner of the ground floor to sell his apartment or get a personal loan, to pay the bill to release the seizure, thus moving toward an insolvency auction.
However, they made a miscalculation and the bill – to their surprise – was paid. Helmer planned a new financial onslaught to the owner of the ground floor, this time equivalent to the value of the apartment. He closed a deal with the agent that had been hired to sell the apartment. The owner was overseas so it was easy to keep them from knowing what was going on, and the apartment was rented to a brothel long enough to build up a fine to the amount Helmer had set out to achieve. At the time that the treasurer Lantsheer demanded a little compensation for himself and a very big fine for the body corporate Helmer sent an offer to buy the apartment to close the 'unpleasant issue' with the ground floor. Providence intervened: the power supply to the ground floor was cut, the brothel packed up and the claims lost their ground.
However Ineke was at boiling point and she demanded that the apartment be destroyed completely. She wanted it back to the state it was 10 years earlier when she had missed the chance to buy it. If not fast, it could be destroyed slowly - they had a key to the apartment for maintenance. A blockage of the sewerage made the old rusted pipe crack and break. That did the job, the sewerage simply gushed into the apartment, meter by meter.
Requests from the owner to fix the pipe they ignored, objected, refused, forbade, or sabotages in every possible way by changing the locks, refusing entry to the workers sent by the owner with threats and of course extensive blaming of the owner himself toward other owners in the body corporate. Slander that the owner only used his apartment for criminal activities somehow seemed to support the chutzpa that the owner himself was neglecting and pauperizing his apartment. Other owners, seeing the aggression of Helmer, were afraid to call for reason. This went on, Lantsheer left and the new owner, Daphne Brinkhuis, took the position besides Helmer. Blinded by his compliments she believed every piece of slander and took the witch hunt against the ground floor owner to a new level.
Helmer offered a deal to the lawyer of the owner of the ground floor, resulting in a stagnation of 2 years before they finally fixed the pipe that continued to destroy the apartment. He also made a deal with the estimator to exclude most of the damages caused by the leaking pipe in his report and to take care that damaged personal belongings and other evidence would be removed. That prevented the owner of the ground floor to demand full compensation. Helmer didn't waste time after destroying the interior and rendering the apartment an unusable total-loss. He started two court cases against the owner of the ground floor, and with a certain contentment saw that the owner's defense was very poor. Assured that he was on the right track he started preparing for a third court to force the owner to fix the damaged apartment on his own cost. But this time he had to face that his game was over, the owner of the ground floor had taken legal insurance.
Although Ineke's tantrums were unbearable Helmer knew that the only solution was to sell and go, to which she agreed after letter of the owner of the ground floor to the meeting of body corporate mentioned her “stretchy face”. She cooled off even more when the owner of the ground floor started suing the body corporate for compensation – they sold and left to let the other owners pay for what they did.