After feeling so positive about house hunting yesterday, I might have known I'd put the mockers on it! So, let me tell you a story...
So, Hanh finds a nice looking house which is halfway between her work and my work. A three bedroom house which was said to have a lot of mod-cons and to be new. What's more, the price was very reasonable! Too good to be true. Anyways, Hanh called the landlady, arranged a viewing for a couple of hours later and we set off in search of the house. Needless to say, it started to rain en route but that didn't dampen our spirits. After getting lost multiple times, several through rather small alleyways that are so typically in Vietnamese back roads, we found our new dream home. :-)
We pulled upto the house and it really did look beautiful. There was a freshly painted gate out front to meet us with a small patio area leading to the front door. Perfect for keeping bikes out during the day without having to bring them into the house. We walked into the house and the living area had a 3 piece suite, tv and cabinet....ideal I thought! Later I slumped into the chair and thought to myself: "I could be happy here!". Further in was the kitchen. Whilst not equiped with anything more than a gas stove and AC, it was very large with an ample sized table and 4 chairs. I was starting to think that we wouldn't be looking much further. Upstairs were 2 very large bedrooms with AC, bed frames (with no mattresses) and usually bedroom brigadier such as wardrobes and chest-of-drawers. Oh yeh, I forgot to mention they were both en suite. Anyhows, we went back downstairs and Hanh spoke with the landlady. We both (Hanh and I) that we liked the place, relayed that to the landlady and she told Hanh the price.
The beginning of the end
The price quoted was $110 higher than agreed. (I wasn't aware of this at that point) Hanh told her that we would think about it and we drove home. I knew that the price would be higher (the foreigner tax) and for the house, the price wasn't unwholly unreasonable. Besides, I really liked the house so I was willing to pay it. On the drive home, my better half started to have doubts about the safety of the area. I hadn't really considered it. Since the house was down a smallish alleyway it would be difficult to take a taxi and she didn't really feel comfortable with either of us driving there too late at night. So with that in mind we visited the place late one night and found the area to be family friendly, not too difficult to get to and we felt it would be a safe place to live as the other surrounding houses were also similar to what we had just seen. We put the initial fears down to the fact that when we first went it was raining pretty heavily and we hadn't really been looking around at the area as conditions weren't conducive to it!
What happened next?
Don't get me wrong, the landlady seemed pretty nice and for all I know is an honest and trustworthy person. We just went on a hunch. Since she would be taking our deposit (a sizeable amount of money, especially in Vietnam) we needed to feel absolutely safe with our money. The small event which followed created enough doubt for both of us to pull the plug.
After the inital rent requirement, we decided that we wouldn't pay anymore than the original agreed rent. The landlady (LL) pondered it for a while, and accepted, we thought we had a deal. However, then some strange things started to happen. I wasn't party to them since my Vietnamese is bordering on non-existent. First, the LL since reluctant to meet at the house to sign the contract and hand over the deposit. She said that we'd already since the place so why did we want to see it again? Hmmm, what is there to hide? Secondly, she was pushing Hanh to sign the Vietnamese contract and pay the deposit before I had the contract translated into English so I could understand it. Again, alarm bells. Thirdly, she removed 2 of the ACs to put them into her own house. Surely a lowering of rent should be required....apparently not. Additionally in the contract there were numerous crimes for which we could lose the deposit, half of which I'm sure are completely illegal and to be frank just unreasonable. For instance, our friends couldn't stay overnight...a complete joke if you ask me. Finally, I never mentioned the 3rd bedroom because apparently she wanted to keep that locked for herself. She stated that she wanted to come from time to time to clean it. Again, we smelt a rat. Seems like someone wanted to spy and what the hell is there to clean in a locked and unused room? Needless to say, plug pulled, on with the search!
Well tonight we've looked at another furnished apartment. Again it's on the 13th floor of a highrise. The place is very clean, modern and the furniture is all great. We were allowed to stay there are long as we wanted to check everything out and the LL's daughter spoke good English which put my mind at ease somewhat. I'm currently waiting for the contract and more importantly agreement on the rent. This time the price was paid down out front and there was no bumping it up after seeing a foreign face. Time will tell, but I have a good feeling about it...but we know what happened last time!