China

Beijing BS- things take a turn in apartment drama

My apartment issue reached a turning point on late Thursday night, culminated in a semishowdown on Friday in my living room and is settling into a series of negotiations.
I left my workplace after 11pm Thursday when I got a call from my agent. I’m accustomed to getting calls from the bastard at all times of the day, but even from him, this was a bit late. He said to me, the landlady knocked on your door and might be waiting outside, so when you see her tell her you’re Z-W’s friend. “What? Why is the landlord outside my apartment? Who is Z-W?” I asked. “What do you mean who is Z-W? You don’t need to know! Just tell the landlady you’re Z-W’s friends, that’s all!” the agent replied in his typical polite way. So when I reached home, got out of the lift and was met by a worried senior lady who asked me if I was Z-W’s friend, that’s exactly what I did Not do. The landlady (this was the first time I’d ever met her) and I talked, then she left and I was stunned. At this point I didn’t know for sure if she was the landlady but she did have a contract and seemed bothered by the agency.

The next day, she came back in the afternoon, and we had a decent chat. Originally I’d demanded the agent bring the landlady over on Friday so I could meet her since I had that day off. We waited for the agent, who seemed to keep delaying, at one point someone knocked on my door who claimed to be the agent’s friend (possibly a junior employee at the agency). “Go away and tell W (my agent) to come right away!” boomed the landlady. W soon came, and he was subjected to a lecture by the landlady, who pointed out all the ways he and his company lied to her. It was surreal watching the very same man who’d made threats and demands to me smiling nervously and denying he’d done anything wrong like a little schoolboy being scolded by a headmistress. The landlady brought her ownership certificate to show me today and I’m pretty sure she’s for real.

Right now, the gist of it is that for the past 2 years, the agency had rented the apartment to a girl, who is likely one of their employees, and they’d rented it out at much higher rents in turn to other people, the current tenant being me. While this is an acceptable arrangement in some cases, the main problem here was that nobody told her who was really renting the place. So in other words, the agency was possibly subrenting it illegally.

So I’m not that worried about the agent and his threats anymore, unless he gets desperate and decides he wants resort to thuggery (something not unheard of in Beijing), but I’m more worried about the paperwork and negotiating my way out of this mess.

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