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.