Greedy Landlords & Flying Karezzas

Enjoying a serviceable Chilean Carmenere-Cabernet at Salt & Pepper while enjoying a mild, allergy pill peaceful early evening in The Crescent.

I don’t need rose-colored glasses when I’m quaffing with Quỳnh.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Bertrand Russell,,Vietnam

Enjoying a serviceable Chilean Carmenere-Cabernet at Salt & Pepper while enjoying a mild, clinic peaceful early evening in The Crescent.

I don’t need rose-colored glasses when I’m quaffing with Quỳnh.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Bertrand Russell,,Vietnam

Enjoying a serviceable Chilean Carmenere-Cabernet at Salt & Pepper while enjoying a mild, viagra order peaceful early evening in The Crescent.

I don’t need rose-colored glasses when I’m quaffing with Quỳnh.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Bertrand Russell,,Vietnam

Most ex-pat bloggers in Vietnam eventually write a post about the trials and tribulations of trying to find a fair landlord and stress-free living arrangements. I haven’t done so yet, unhealthy unless you count a flurry of angry tweets I sent out as I was trying to move out of my last place in District 5. I should have blogged at that time, neuropathologist as the woman responsible for my seething rage was the most abominable form of landlord known to man. However, I was more inclined to wipe her memory from my mind and start enjoying the much better arrangement I was moving into.

IPhone snapshot - beautiful Saigon day

Landlords in Vietnam couldn’t give a flying furtive uninhibited copulatory karezza about tenant rights or the law pertaining to renting or real estate in general. In fact, the law in Vietnam appears to have been created and implemented in an attempt to show the outside world that Vietnam is an organised, civilised society, and to find a way to employ a bunch of pen-pushers who couldn’t actually do a real job. Those of us actually living here can attest that the law is meaningless, and locals do whatever they damn well please – in business, pleasure and on the roads. I’ve recently been told that it’s pointless quoting law to state your case or strengthen your position, as nobody uses it. Who knows, perhaps nobody is even aware of the laws?

Photo By alissarosenhaft Flickr

When trying to recover my very large deposit from my last landlord, the legal advice I received was, well, to be honest, no better than that I could have given myself. The process for initiating a claim on her didn’t seem to exist, and I was actually using a lawyer experienced in real estate law! I was so frustrated at the disorganised, random, slow approach to my request for assistance that, in order to save my sanity, if not my bank account, I simply gave up.

I’ve now been living in a fun, breezy, well-located apartment in District 4 for about 7 months, and the landlord (who, incidentally, lives opposite me) has seemed to be very reasonable, modern and fair so far, and has even been willing to make small changes in fixtures and fittings as requested. There are have been a few strange exchanges between us, but very little relating to the actual rental contract or maintenance of the apartment.


Some examples of these strange exchanges follow:

– Two air-conditioners were found to be inoperative. Landlord quickly repaired, but then insisted that I pay for those repairs because “it is me who wants to use them”. Of course, I firmly pointed out that the contract requires all fixtures and fittings to be maintained by the landlord.

– A fan broke. Again, they tried to make me pay the 300,000 necessary to replace it. Although that’s such a small amount of money, I stuck to my guns.

– They came over one day to tell me they wanted to move my fridge and sofa to another apartment, and that they had “better” replacements for me. I tentatively agreed to test these new items out before accepting them. The fridge was smaller, smelly and overheating. It was immediately rejected. The sofa was smaller, but looked a little nicer. I accepted that. Both items are still out in the corridor, six months after they were removed.

– When they heard that I was rarely going to use the the spare bed, they asked if they could take it away to use in another apartment. I didn’t like the look of it anyway, so begrudgingly agreed. It, too, is still out in the corridor.

– The internet router broke. Out of warranty, the serviceman needed to replace it for a remarkably inconsequential amount of money. As soon as the landlord heard she would need to pay for it she began to get very grumpy. It got worse when the serviceman couldn’t show her written evidence that the new router was, in fact, new and that she wanted to see a date of warranty expiry on the actual router. This thing is worth peanuts! When the serviceman got angry with her she exploded and refused to continue the dealings, not even discussing it with me, and turned to walk out of my apartment, dead router in hand. I had to stop her and explain that Internet is a defined service as part of the contract, that I had urgent work that had to be completed, and that her petty grievances with the ISP are not my concern. In other words, “PAY UP NOW!”

– Numerous inquiries were made about me tutoring “that little girl” who lives with them. The little girl happens to be their 13yo niece, Linh. I use her name, but they never do. What’s that all about?

– The strangest of all was a very long meeting about the possibility of a marriage of convenience to their sister so that she could move to Australia with her daughter, supposedly to get Linh a better education and less bullying. As the sister is recently divorced (no surprise given that she’s a sour, horrible person), Linh is copping a lot of ribbing in school. They never told me how much they would be willing to pay, but I doubt it was the USD80,000-100,000 plus three year’s rent that ex-pat acquaintances told me was the going rate. I explained that, even if I was interested in the money, it would limit my future plans and my girlfriend would not be at all understanding. They asked in a concerned manner if she was Vietnamese. When I replied in the affirmative they smiled, relaxed, and said nonchalantly, “Oh, it’s fine then. She will most definitely understand”. Needless to say she blew a gasket over that statement. I gave a very definite no to their offer.


Now, on to the current situation.

I needed paperwork stamped by the police to prove my residency, in order to get a new work permit. This means the landlord needed to show them the pink residency book. Of course, they hadn’t applied for one, as to do so means declaring a rental property and then having to pay tax on the income.  They weren’t happy about being asked, but went ahead with my request. After about three weeks of pushing, they came back from the police with a bunch of stories about cost, delays, negotiations and “special deals”. They told me they had received a discount on the current rate of “10%” and now had to pay only USD20 each month. The backpay was due, but they would accept USD60 from me as another discount. From that day on I would need to pay an extra USD20 on top of rent to “cover” their tax. I just nodded, without saying anything, and let them get on with getting me my form.

After further pushing, and some talk of problems because of money and Tet, the form mysteriously turned up on my doorstep in Linh’s hands the very day after they had told me that the police were too busy to do it quickly – meaning they want a bribe. Apparently because they were too ashamed to deliver it themselves after what they had told me.

Now that I have the necessary form for continuing my work permit process I refuse to take care of the landlord’s tax obligations, if in fact that’s actually what they’re doing. My girlfriend was engaged in a Vietnamese conversation with them that led her to believe they were looking for ways to take advantage of me.

After a 30 minute conversation that should have been no more than five, and contained such pearls as, “The contract is just a guide. You also have to pay any other costs that may arise later”, I raised the following five points (at least as I understand them – happy to be corrected if I have been mislead) as reason that they should accept the conversation as closed:

– They’re receiving rental income, not me. Therefore they need to pay the tax.

– The contract states clearly how much the rent is and that any change from that has to be agreed to by both parties.If they had asked for higher rent to cover their tax requirements at the outset, I would happily have agreed and signed.

– It is a legal requirement to register a foreigner who is renting from you.

– The contract is in USD, against my agreement, and I believe against the Vietnamese law.

– I have been an excellent tenant, but if they wish to break their end of the contract by insisting on a change in rent they are welcome to do so by paying me double the deposit, as per the contract itself.


Their usual demeanor of calm politeness was disappearing as the conversation progressed, and my last two statements led to distinct looks of sour distaste. This led the male to state, “It is not our fault. You asked us to have the contract in USD.” A blatant, illogical lie, made worse by how hard I had campaigned to get the contract in VND, and how many times I had repeated that I don’t get paid in USD and it’s not easy to get that currency here.


That was the last straw. I can’t stand liars at the best of times, and when you’re subjected to it day in and day out from your students, from retailers, colleagues and employers, and from other shady characters who have thankfully left your life, it can leave you cold. It did me. As I turned to leave he threw a conciliatory “We can have another meeting about this later” at me. I sharply replied that there will be no other meeting, and I will be following the contractual agreement.

The dark clouds gather

It is so disappointing to find out that even the nicest of Vietnamese seem to revert to money-grubbing, swindling, lying thieves as soon as any sniff of extra money or having to pay extra expenses is detected. I can’t wait to move to an apartment offered to me by my new family, the only people here I truly trust.

I can now see light on the horizon, breaking through the dark clouds.

Saigon at 4pm