Chapter 67: One Landlord, One Less Deposit

faucet on a bathtub
When John and I decide to move in Shanghai -- before our lease is up -- all understanding gets flushed down the drain by a not-so-understanding landlord.

Changning — the long peace — was never meant to last. That’s what I discover when we asked the landlord, a Shanghai native, for permission to move. He was sympathetic about the garbage problem, even understanding. Or so we thought.

“You ruined the tub, and I need to deduct the costs from your deposit,” accused the landlord.

John, my Chinese boyfriend, and I were stunned. The tub was a scratched-up hull of its former self when we moved in. How could the landlord — a man John once described as “reasonable” — suddenly turn against us?

“You also deceived me — you said you were going to stay at this apartment for at least six months.” The discussion seemed to collapse like a poorly built home. And with each moment, I felt our deposit disappearing.

But John, ever obsessed with justice, continued to spar with the landlord. He had a history of sparring, as he had negotiated months before with my nefarious former boss. Yet the hours passed and still the discussion continued to circle around, like the water heading down the drain of that nasty tub.

“Look John,” I turned to him. “Let’s just pay him the money. That’s what he wants, right?” We both knew this was just a ploy to get a little extra out of his renters — and what better excuse than an early exit?

The landlord left that evening with our deposit. John and I left for a new apartment near downtown Shanghai, with a battered sense of justice.

Have you ever had issues with a landlord in China?


Memoirs of a Yangxifu in China is the story of love, cultural understanding and eventual marriage between one American woman from the city and one Chinese man from the countryside. To read the full series to date, you can start at Chapter 1, or browse the Memoirs of a Yangxifu archives.

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2 Replies to “Chapter 67: One Landlord, One Less Deposit”

  1. Hahaha yes. I had a batty old lady for a landlord once who would stop over at random times, who turned up at my husband (then boyfriend)’s place of work because she wanted us to return some pillowcase she’d apparently left in the apartment and who, when I moved out, actually tried to charge me (all of 10RMB, lmao) for places where the plaster on the walls was cracking a bit. This was a 1980s era danwei apartment that had never once been renovated, so of course the plaster on the walls was cracking! She was one of those typical older Chinese women who has nothing better to do than get involved in ridiculousness and so of course renting out an apartment provided the perfect opportunity for that.

    The rent was only 400RMB a month though, so it was worth it I guess.

  2. My boyfriend told me that as a kind of precaution before moving into the previous apartments, he took a bunch of pictures with camera for all walls, windows, doors, hubs, tubs and whatever you want.
    So – I think that problems with landlords can happen anywhere.
    .-= Crystal´s last blog ..Why I hate majiang =-.

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