Wednesday, November 12, 2008

When good landlords go bad

Since we have a broken lamp and a water leak in our bathroom, yesterday came with visits from our landlord (a local man and woman in their 40ies) and two repair guys. I thought things were gonna go smooth seeing they were 4 people in a small bathroom, and since I was busy with my own stuff (typing away at the computer) I didn't engage in the repair process. While our landlord man stayed in the bathroom our landlord woman found it too boring and went to inspect our flat instead. And that meant the end to me doing 'my own stuff'.

-You Na, come here, come here, I have to show you something!

First it was the curtains.

-They need to be taken down and scrubbed. First they should be washed in the machine and then by hand. You have an ayi right? (Me: nodding) Yeah well u have to tell her to do this! Now, help me take those curtains down!

I helped, and went back to my computer for a mere 2 minutes before another

-You Na, come here! sounded.

This time it was the lamps:

-All of your lamps have to be taken down and washed. Tell your ayi.

OK, OK... on my way back to my computer I was called back.

-YOU NA!!!


-The balcony is simply too dirty! Your ayi must be very lazy! You have to tell her to wash it.

-She cleans the balcony three times a week! It just gets dirty because there is so much dirt flying around in the air. It's not her fault.

But it was like speaking to a wall. My landlord lady didn't take in a word of what I said. She followed her 'complaint process' by complaining about us NOT putting ALL OF OUR SHOES in the shoe closet that we have. It didn't matter that I said we prefer to keep our 'every day shoes' on the floor for easy access, she looked at me as if I was an idiot for even saying this.

Then she complained about us not drying our clothes on the balcony but inside. Again, my explanation went down the drain.

Then she found dirt on some skirting that she wanted to show me.

And constantly: your ayi is so bad, your ayi is so lazy, your ayi is not doing her job....

I happen to kind of like our ayi... I actually feel so guilty about having someone else do wash our dirty clothes (although I like that she does the dishes -which is my least fave part of house cores) that I do a lot of it myself. I mean, for what we pay our ayi I don't expect her to take down the lamps and clean them. But today I have to tell her (HAVE TO! This is an order from our landlord lady who is, unfortunately, coming back later this week with a repair guy to finish fixing the water leak as they couldn't fix it yesterday. I realised -by listening in on their conversation- that it was simply a cost issue and that neither the repair guy's company or the landlord wanted to compensate for the damage caused by the leak) or, I simply have to do it myself. I will probably share the cores with her, otherwise I believe she will hate me when I demand for her to clean better and wash more. I mean, I can't let my landlord ruin my relationship with our ayi.

But seriously, what is it with bossy landlords over here? Our first landlord (when we lived in Pudong of Shanghai) was so anal about the cleaning of our wooden floor that he basically made up a story about it being so complicated to clean it would take us half a day! Us, being new to the city and to Shanghai landlords, swallowed what he said hook line and sinker and agreed to pay for an ayi (that he recommended) to come and do it once/week. When we later realised that all she did was to mop the floor with water, we were kind of pissed off.

Our second landlord (when we lived in the French Concession of Shanghai -ahhhh these were the days!) was sweet and nice and helpful until it became time for us to move out and she had to pay back our deposit. She then started off by accusing us for STEALING the manuals to the fridge and to the micro wave, when she realised that those two were missing. She wrote us a very condescending email where she asked us to hand them back, and if we didn't want to, she said we could BUY them from her... Gosh, that was a mess. There was also a lot of other hassle to get our deposit from this flat. She made a huge deal about the fact that we had lost the password to the Internet and told us that people from China Mobile now had to come to the flat in order to sort the connection out. We were just like: 'no way, Jose... just call China Mobile, tell them your customer number and you'll get a new password'. Ahhhh... this went on for a while, but eventually (5 months late but still) we managed to get our deposit.

I guess I should oblige with our new, bossy landlord lady in order to avoid the situation turning sour. It tends to happen over here a lot.


Rambler said...

I think I met the my landlord last night. He came by with his daughter to pick up the old washing machine that had been sitting on the balcony since before I arrived. He was nice, and the only bad part of it was when I helped him carry it down five flights of stairs.

Anonymous said...

Jonna she's getting involved in stuff that is clearly none of her business, like whether you store your shoes in the closet or not. You can put all your shoes in the bath tub if that's what you want to do and the only thing she has a right to be concerned about is any PERMANENT damage to the place. A dusty lamp is not permanent!

You should have asked if there's any particular side of the bed she'd prefer you sleep on. But she would not get the sarcasm I guess.

afritzse said...

Maybe that behavior is only towards the laowais because landlords think they should have the money, or don't trust them?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, landlords is a own human breed. The one I got now is a pyscho. She is 110% sure that I will first ruin her apartment before I set it on fire and run off with her savings.

I was really close to just telling the woman to fuck off because I got so tired of her suspiciousness, but the apartment was too nice. She used somewhat like half a hour to check every page of my passport, believing that every single passport visa was a jail conviction. Then she became completely nuts when she saw my visa was only valid to February, even though I said I would be back afterwards and even showed her my work contract. She even wanted to clean the apartment herself, but for like 150rmb per time, because she thought I might be stupid or something. I told her I lost my key so she gave me hers, which I never returned in hope that it might lead her not to snooke around the apartment while I am not here.

My workmates and me is sure that she have been scamed big time by some foreigner before, or at least we all hope so :)

Jonna Wibelius said...

Trifriend -they are all nice until it becomes time to pay back your deposit.... Remember to report any damages that u find immediately, otherwise u might be held responsible for them in the end.

woai -ahhhh now I really feel like putting all of our shoes in the bath tub in time for her next visit... :)

afritzse -probably... I don't know how landlords are towards Chinese, but I doubt they are as bossy.

Emil -She sounds like a nerv wreck! I can't believe that she even rented the place to u, seeing that she's so worried. Sounds like a nightmare.

Anonymous said...

Ummmm, is that your current bathroom because it is gorgeous!

Jonna Wibelius said...

Sarah -it is indeed. Yeah, I fell in love with it too from the moment I saw it. :)