The sweetest grand I might make*
Several months after moving into a new apartment 2 years ago, I sat down for a drink with my new next-door neighbour and her girlfriend. At some point I realised that the casual “chat” was going in a very clear direction. The apartment hadn’t been meant for me, apparently. Due to a mix up between the previous tenant and the landlady, I had slipped through the cracks. But actually, the apartment had been meant for my neighbour’s girlfriend. They had a dream of renovating it, of living side by side in adjoining flats. The apartment was situated inside a 100+ year old building, with creaking wooden floors and a damp problem, but they had renovated my neighbour’s unit from scratch and wanted to invest the same time in mine. The only issue was, well, me.
At first I just decided to keep it in mind, I thought they had let me know so they wouldn’t miss out again if I left. But slowly, more and more pressure was applied, until at one point the girlfriend came to me almost in tears asking if I would ever leave. They knocked on my door when furniture was delivered, asking what was going on? And wasn’t I moving out? They showed me the floor plans of apartments they had found that might suit me. They offered me the girlfriend’s apartment, but that fell through. And every conversation that went longer than several minutes ended up being about the apartment. Specifically, me leaving it. I started staying inside if I heard them outside, and not coming home till late, when I knew they’d be in bed and not in the courtyard waiting to ply me with wine and ask my plans. I got stressed. I started losing sleep.
They told me they had the assurance of the landlady that should I decide to move, they could jump in the very next day.
The apartment was far from perfect. There was no heating, no one lived below to offer up warmth, the floorboards had holes so big I lost a small guest down there, the overhead wiring was dodgy so I could only use lamps, and the kitchen produced mold at an astonishing rate. At one point, the gas inspector came and closed the gas off at the mains due to a “substantial” leak inside. Right after I’d hosted a shisha party. The universe must have been on my side during that one!
Eventually, I found a great new place – available immediately. I decided to move. I didn’t worry about the notice period because hey, the girls would take it over the next day! No double rent for me.
And that’s when the problems started.
Somewhere between when I met her and this point in time, my landlady had acquired a boyfriend. Actually, to be precise, she had acquired an arsehole. One of those men you just know gets erections cheating people out of a dollar. He convinced her not to let the girls have the apartment. Then they turned around and said they didn’t want it. Then they did again. Then they were allowed to have it, then they weren’t, then the rent would be increased, then not, then they could move in asap, then not till my lease was over. Then a contract was drawn up which the girls rejected, claiming the conditions were unfair. A second was not forthcoming.
In the middle of all this to-ing and fro-ing, I had moved, but couldn’t really get on with my life. I had no idea how much rent to budget for, or how long this would go on. I had to pay my new bond without having any idea when I’d get the old back. I dutifully went and scrubbed the old place down and rang asking for a handover appointment. Nothing.
Then came a message from my neighbour saying the landlady had told her there was too much mold on a windowsill, and I’d have to forfeit my bond. None of this was relayed to me. It was all through whispers, but it caused me great angst. I actually don’t know how much of it has been the girls trying to stir me up and turn me against the landlady and how much is true. Overall, the girls have been reliable, but they’ve sent me a few messages of dubious truth. At one point they said I had to get rid of all the blinds in the apartment, even though they’d been there when I moved in, because in Germany you have to obey the wishes of the next tenant and they wanted them gone. According to German friends, this is a bald-faced lie. I don’t know who is on my side, and who isn’t.
But today, I find out.
I have a handover appointment booked for this evening. I’m bringing an awesome, tough friend of mine with me. A German friend who knows the law and isn’t afraid to argue her point, bless her. Even though I will still need to pay rent for all of September, by this point I just want the whole nightmare saga to be done with so I can get on with my life. Will the landlady try and take money off my bond? Will the girls be getting the place so that I don’t have to pay double rent for a second month in a row? Will the landlady transfer my bond back quickly, or take her sweet fucking time, as she has done with everything else? Will her boyfriend be there, causing trouble.
Stay tuned as I find out!
*While I won’t technically “make” the grand, I will sure as hell have earned it!