big problems

I am writing this as a group email cos I don’t think I can handle telling it more than once.

Short story: Bec and I will not be moving into the apartment I told you about already, and we will not get our deposit back from the landlord.

I’m going to skip some less relevant details because it’s hard enough going through the story as it is. We went to see the renovated apartment yesterday morning. We were told the renovations were “complete” and the landlord had just bought furniture which he was bringing over.

The cheap wood flooring through most of the apartment was fine. The walls had been plastered (but not painted) but this was okay. The central air ducts, however, were still totally exposed and some light switches no longer worked.

The kitchen hadn’t been done at all (although apparently that was going to happen today…) so it was still unrendered concrete walls with exposed pipes, although the floor had been put in.

The biggest issue was the bathrooms. He had had super cheap red lino put in on the floors, in one of the bathrooms it was very badly laid. There were no powerpoints in any of the bathrooms, and only a bare bulb in the ceilings for light. The cheapest possible shower fitting and towel racks had been installed, and the walls were still totally unfinished. One bathroom even had a random piece of pipe sticking up out of the floor.

This was all bad enough, but the landlord also insisted that he had now done everything he’d agreed to and absolutely would not do more.

Then there’s the furniture he bought:

– three tiny wardrobes (1m wide each)

– a folding card table (with edges that fold up to make it a round table)

– 4 cheap blue plastic chairs,

– lime green futon (the super cheap one-piece kind that breaks easily)

– 3 bed frames (like a plywood box with rough posts) with no mattresses

There was just no way we could accept the apartment under those conditions – unfinished with hardly any furniture. The landlord was insisting he’d spent 20,000 RMB fixing up the place and wasn’t going to do anymore. The poor real estate agent was upset, too. This wasn’t the deal she had negotiated with him. At this point Bec and I realised that even if he did fix up the place the way we wanted he isn’t the sort of person we’d want to have as a landlord.

It ended up with us saying we couldn’t take the apartment unless the landlord fixed it up properly, and the landlord quite insistent that he would not do anything more, AND would not return the deposit (one month’s rent – 7,500 RMB / $1,100 USD / $1,300 AUD). The estate agent felt very bad and said they would do their best to find us another place, and would not charge us a realtor’s fee (thereby taking the loss herself). Of course that only works if we find a place through her. I always thought that in most cases it was the landlord paying the realtor’s fee anyway.

So now I’m out 5,000 RMB and Bec’s out 2,500 RMB and we’re both terribly disappointed and kicking ourselves. Bec feels bad for not protecting our interests better at the meeting with the landlord and I feel bad for not being at that meeting to stand up for us and have made a better arrangement at the start (I’m more detail minded and forceful than Bec).

Now we’re back to square one looking for an apartment, with less money. Our current agent is looking for places for us but yesterday didn’t have anything suitable to show us. I’ve already contacted a real estate agent I know at Fang Zhou Yuan (the place Bec and I used to live at, where my good friends Matt and Kara live) to see what’s available there. There are several reasons I had decided against FZY but Matt mentioned it again after everything fell apart and I suppose at this point I figure it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Add to that other things weighing on me, such as the Australian dollar dropping in the last two weeks. That means the album is costing me more to manufacture than I budgeted and it costs me more AUD to take RMB out of the bank (which I need to do to pay for things like rent on a new apartment). The album is also taking longer than I expected so I don’t know exactly when I’ll have it in hand. I have sold 4 copies already, though, so that’s encouraging (2 from Australia via paypal and two in cash here).

Oh and then there’s my visa – I have to wait til a month before it expires to renew it, which (long story short) means I probably can’t leave Beijing til the 23rd of July at the earliest. Deciding when to book a ticket when I’m not sure when I’ll have my passport back is stressful.

Oh, and all of this happened on the same weekend as the ReGen lock-in (staying up all night) and two other late-ish nights so I wasn’t at my best when it all went down anyway.

So now I’m feeling pretty down and disappointed and not particularly hopeful. I do trust that God has a plan through all this, that it will be revealed in his time, but right now I don’t have the energy to be particularly encouraged by that knowledge.

Thanks for listening



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