So here’s the story.
My girlfriend and I moved into a place near Taida in early February. Within a month - that is to say when the first big rain occurred, we discovered leaks in the ceiling. We immediately called the landlords and they came and slapped some sealant here, slapped some there, and said “oh we can’t do anything really until it stops raining.” Heard that before?
Oh yes, and in the kitchen the sink leaked every time we used it - water creeped out from underneath. We mentioned this to the landlord and they said “oh zenme keneng?” Because, see, they had just redone everything in the kitchen.
Continuing on, over the months since this time the leaks have appeared, we’ve called, they’ve come and been repeatedly useless. Finally they hired some shuidian dudes to come check the sink. The dudes said it was clogged a bit, but mostly it was the way the plumbing was done (water flows down, water sits on a level surface, the plumbing is all level, etc). However, this did fix the sink leak. The ceiling leaks, on the other hand continued.
Let me pause for a moment to quickly describe the place. It’s two bedrooms, one living room, kitchen, bathroom, tiny. The apartment was extended a bit by enclosing the balcony - and it was from the metal-tube and plastic enclosure that the first leaks appeared (dripping onto my desk and computer). In the living room an enormous patch of ceiling discolored, water welled through, collected in a seam, and began dripping all along the seam onto our brand new 15,000NT sofabed. We moved it out of the way and put down buckets (something we ended up having to do every time it rained). Over the front door a discolored patch appeared. In the corner of the living room a discolored patch appeared. However, these two patches never actually dripped.
Okay so fast forward (through repeated “hello, it’s leaking again” “oh zenme keneng” exchanges followed by more inept slapping on of sealant with no results) to early this month. Plum rains finally arrive. Ceiling discolors in huge patches. More water dripping. We tell the landlord that’s it, we’ve gotta move out. How will we deal with the deposit. They say oh we understand, please don’t worry a bit about that (shoulda known). So we’ve been searching for a new pad (anyone moving out of a decent 2 bedroom close to MRT with kitchen and balcony? Please?!).
So now move to this last week. I go to work. Girlfriend goes to shop. We meet for lunch. We come home. Living room has an inch and a half of water covering the floor. We jump in, grab bags, realize the water is lapping over the powerstrips that power the running computers (holy sh*t unplug those fast before we die), call the landlord, evacuate the living room, start slopping dirty water into mop buckets and dumping it down the drain. Landlord comes over with his son (who asks his father repeatedly how much he’s had to drink… oh did i mention he smells like he’s been in the bottle… and I really mean soaking in the bottle like it’s a hot tub… every time we see him? or that his wife wears the pants and runs the business but he’s always the one that comes over first shouting “oh zenme keneng! hen kwa zhang!”) and stands around until i tell him in my terrible chinese that we need to get it cleaned first, then figure out how it happened. We clean - can’t figure out where the water came from. They leave saying “oh so sorry we’ll try to figure out what has happened.”
We continue looking for a new place. Start packing.
Today. I do recording work - work cancelled today. Girlfriend teaches - in between terms. We’re both home this afternoon. Xia hen da yu. I head to the bathroom and hear “Ahhh! Water!!!” from the other room. Water is shooting into the apartment from the balcony. Small fountain in the balcony drain. Call landlord. Try to stem the tide. Frantically move furniture, bags, books, etc. (did I mention the loss - to the tune of around 7000NT - of property in the flood last Saturday?). Drunk landlord again arrives and fiddles with the drain spouting useless words. I tell him “nin youmeiyou… babe how do i say pump… choshuiji?” he says no - i don’t know where to find a pump. i say “ni shibudhi fangdong!” and something like “you should know how to find one. we need one. you must call someone!” (girlfriend said my sloppychinese wasn’t quite correct but it got the meaning across)
okay i’m going on. I like to tell stories. let’s cut to the chase. gongren come, try rooting out the drain. tell us the problem is that when the landlords split their apartment into two and put in the plumbing in our half they plumbed terribly and plumbed into the roof drain so every time it rains big there’s a risk of this happening. we spend all day (cancelled work - more money lost) getting things cleaned, start packing. invite landlords’ wife over to talk business.
Here’s where you come in. i need advice. landlord is balking at returning deposit - returning all our deposit. i said look, we’ve had problems since we moved in so we think it would just be simplest to return the full deposit and we’ll go on our way and you can deal with your property without the hassle of tenants. she says but when you shower and hair goes down the drain… but this, but that… it’s not our fault… we’ve been so worried every time it rains… bascially she left without any numbers or agreements made (other than me saying no we’re not simply going to act as if this is a normal move-out, we need to dicuss this again) So now I’m thinking oh boy… we’re gonna have trouble after all. So now I need to find out how to best prepare for some kinda mediation. Of course this is the brief version (yep that’s right - this is the brief version. the long version is coming soon to a theater near you), and because i’ve ben man man xue-ing the chinese i’d need someone who can help in both languages. I also just want to find out, in general, what our options are: small claims court for damages, breach of contract? the threat of blacklisting by agencies like tsuimama? things like that…
congratulations for reading this far. now tell me what to do.