Oakland reality stars threaten to expose landlord on social media, lose rent court case

Judy Gao and Sabi J. Photo/Nori Montgomery

Two reality stars threatened to expose their multimillion-dollar St Heliers landlord to their followers over a series of issues they had with the house, including a pool that wasn’t ready to film.

But a rental court ruling has been passed against Sabina Gaisingham, better known as Sabbie J, who starred on Moses Mackay’s season of The Bachelor last year and on this year’s TVNZ dating show The Ex Best Thing, and Si (Judy) Zhao, a contestant on the 2018 season. From Project Runway and now a haute couture designer.

The ruling said the disputes arose from what the tenants expected to move out of the house.

Jey, who has 60,000 followers on Instagram and TikTok, wanted to use the house as part of her job as a social media influencer or on TV shows, which requires it to be a “showroom standard” that realtors don’t expect.

Jey has also done work on sexual violence awareness and is an advocate for inclusivity.

Gao, who has 1.8 million followers on TikTok and 152,000 on Instagram, needed plenty of sewing spaces and planned to use the double garage and other rooms for her business, but the couple’s contract was for an apartment building, not a commercial workspace, the ruling said. Zhao did not live on the property.

“It is clear that the divergent expectations about the premises between the tenants and the landlord has caused a conflict between the two parties.”

Sabby Jey in a teaser for The Bachelor.
Sabby Jey in a teaser for The Bachelor.

The court described the five-bedroom property as a “high-quality dwelling” that reflected his weekly rent of $1,750.

The referee said the couple ran into problems just three days after entering into a written lease agreement on January 11, before moving in on January 15.

Jey was planning to film an unnamed TV show at home and asked the owner to professionally clean the pool.

The owner complied, whose names are withheld, but the tenants were unhappy with the job and claimed there were other issues, including gas not working properly and property with rubbish, spiderwebs and ants.

Five days after the move, the tenants threatened to file a complaint with the court, claiming that the cases had not been handled.

Judy Gau was photographed at Project Runway NZ in 2018.
Judy Gau was photographed at Project Runway NZ in 2018.

They also threatened to publicize the situation.

“I will be sharing with my 60k followers, most of whom are in shape [sic] New Zealand, and I will discuss how we are being exploited by landlords via our social media platform, naming [the property management company/s]We will reach out to the media to cover this story once we go to court,” the document noted, the tenants wrote in an email.

The tenant does not specify who wrote the letter.

Tenants also reported a dispute with their neighbors about where they could park their car on the property, which led to the police being called.

The ruling said the landlord had taken steps to address these issues and allow tenants their first week of rent free of charge.

But on January 24th, tenants emailed the landlord requesting that they complete a number of jobs such as ant treatment, installed plumbing in the down shower, another clean pool, and a clean oven.

Jey claimed that she would never have taken the drug if she had known about the lack of interest and the issues that come with it.

The referee quoted her as saying: “I have cried on many occasions and been very nervous in dealing with you and this property.”

On January 28 the landlord contested a number of their assertions saying that a previous inspection of the rental showed that the oven was clean, a cleaner had come to the house and cleaned it to the tenants’ satisfaction on January 15 and that they had informed where the tenants could park.

The owner arranged for pest control on the property, and a report provided from that visit stated that the contractor was unable to find evidence of an ant problem.

The star's real-life husband has been involved in a lease of the St Heliers home.  Photo/Nori Montgomery
The star’s real-life husband has been involved in a lease of the St Heliers home. Photo/Nori Montgomery

On February 1, the landlord filed an application with the court and this was followed by another application to the court by the tenants on February 15.

The court noted that rent was routinely paid late, and was short. They said tenants earn “just under six figures” each.

The ruling, issued in May, found that the tenants had breached their agreement by having three other people living on the property instead of the agreed occupiers.

As a result, they were ordered to pay $400 in typical damages and $1,360 in late rent.

The landlord wanted to terminate the lease but was refused.

The couple’s attorney, James Cochrane, said: “Miss Giasingham and Miss Zhao can confirm that there was a lease agreement, and there was a dispute between the parties, but that dispute has now been satisfactorily resolved, and the parties cannot say anything else because of the confidentiality arrangements.”

Gee explained to the Herald on Sunday the hardships she went through after moving out of the house in 2012.

“She was in a small city apartment, 30 square metres, where she shared a double bed with a roommate.

“I’ve struggled with rent, working as a casual waitress in Sky City. Looking at it now, I feel very fortunate with the lease I’m on now.”

She said she is now dealing with PTSD from sexual assault.

“For this reason, I prefer to stay at home where I feel safe and at peace.”

Both parties applied to write off the name – which was granted only to the owner.

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