Hello, everyone out there. Of course I usually post about nails, but this morning I have something else to say. I’m in a tough spot and maybe there is a nail polish color that will cheer me up somehow.
As you may know, I live in Tokyo but I’m American. Sadly, there is still a lot of legal discrimination here, particularly in housing. It’s hard to find a landlord who will accept foreign tenants and it’s legal to discriminate based on race/citizenship here. My current apartment lease is up on Dec. 21- right after we go home for Christmas. Renewing the contract will cost us 1 month’s rent ($1200). My current apartment is not horrible- about 8 minutes walk from the station, 500 sq. feet (this is considered big in Japan!). But, the rent is high considering the age of the building and the location. Out of 40 apartments, only 12 are occupied. I know this because I can see the taped-up mailboxes with no names on them. If someone was living in those apartments, his or her name would be on the mailboxes, right?
But the big thing is I have a mold problem. It’s in both closets and starting to spread around the windows. Tons of our clothes, suitcases, cheapo pressed wood furniture etc. have gotten moldy enough to just toss. We bought a dehumidifier, but the mold continues. So, the landlord at my current apartment, “Mold Haven,” told me to pay the $1200 renewal fee. Oh- it gets better. The real estate agent who got me this place is the SON of the apartment owner. So the real estate guy will not negotiate with…his dad on my behalf.
So yesterday, I went to the real estate office in the hope of negotiating the renewal fee with the agent/owner/whoever would listen to me. I figured seeing the mold every day and throwing away moldy stuff regularly after paying him $1200 would really tick me off. Also, I figured, for $1200, they could at least get a mold inspector to come and do something.
The conversation went like this, but in Japanese:
Me: Hello. I’d like to talk about the renewal fee. We have a mold problem, as I mentioned before, and before deciding if we renew, we need it fixed.
Real Estate Agent Horsecrap-san: Oh, really? Well, nobody else has ever complained. Sorry about that, it must be from something you’re doing. Where’s the renewal fee?
Me: No, this is not a regular mold problem and I’ve never had mold before in my other apartments. Can someone at least take a look?
::drag him out to our place, unhappily::
H-san, looking at the mold: Hmmm. Well, we can get a guy to come and spray mold-killer on the wall and ceiling, but not on the closets because it will damage them. It will cost a few hundred bucks.
H-san: Yeah, and after he sprays, it will change the color of the wall and ceiling. So of course, you’ll have to fix that when you move.
Me: So I have to pay for the guy to spray AND re-wallpaper when we leave?
H-san: Yes, of course. And I’ll be expecting the renewal fee before the 21st. Oh, and if you cancel the lease, it’s one month rent as a penalty. Of course.
Me: Head explodes.
H-san: You know, this building is fully occupied.
Me: Oh, really? Because I see a lot of empty units.
H-san: No, there are NO empty units here. This is a totally blatant lie, unless all the other tenants have a mailbox phobia and won’t write their name on the boxes or take the tape off. And nobody but you has complained about mold!
Me: I see.
H-san: I think if you just move all the clothes and furniture from this room, and keep the window open all the time, the mold won’t be a problem anymore.
Me: Gee, we have electric heat which isn’t included in the rent, so my electric bill will be about a million dollars. So that means I’ll have to buy new wardrobes to hang the clothes because that room has the only clothes closet, right? Can you drop the renewal fee in that case, since a large part of the apartment will be unusable?
H-san: smirks. Oh, no, I’m afraid the owner (oh, don’t you mean your daddy?) will refuse. I’ll be waiting for your decision.
Other than the mold, this place is not so bad. I don’t love it, but the timing to move out couldn’t be worse. I’m going home on Dec. 18, my guy is coming on Dec. 23, and I don’t know if we’ll have time to get it all packed up and ready to go by then.
The new place we picked out (a lot wouldn’t allow foreigners) is nice, but $1300. The location is great- 2 minutes from the station, and is a nice place. It will cost one month “gift money” to the landlord, one month “agency fee” to the real estate agency, and one month deposit which we will never get back, plus moving costs. So $1300 x 3= $3900, plus about $500 to move, against $12oo for renewing Mold Haven + whatever stuff we have to throw away, which is probably not too much money (plus we wouldn’t have to pack up and get out and do all that troublesome utility set-up and all.)
I honestly don’t know what to do. Should I stay in Mold Haven because it’s the easiest thing? Should I fork over the dough and move? Should I push Mr. Horsecrap down some stairs?
YIKES! I’m seeing my new agent in about 2 hours and she’s really pushing to get me to move into the new place. I need a good polish color for a tough day. Black immediately sprang to mind, but I think I’ll do some butt-kicking burgundy. Or white and gray, in honor of the micro-organism which is going to cost me several thousand dollars.