giovedì, marzo 05, 2015

Poor low-level sociopathic parasite

I've lived, in the sense of had long-term rental contracts, in six countries, all with their own way of doing real estate, and I can say one thing without doubt; if you would like to meet a certain kind of scum of the earth anywhere on earth you happen to find yourself - the low-level sociopathic parasite kind - go to a rental real estate agency. I'm not saying all rental real estate agents are scummy - I'm just saying rental real estate agencies are probably the right places to find scummy people of the low-level sociopathic parasitic kind.

I've been lucky in generally living in places where I could shift to talk the language a bit, which, stunningly, includes here. My German isn't going to win any awards anytime soon, but it's adequate to get sold to and as a consequence it seems we have been able to rent directly from a landlord, as has usually been the case. The only place I've had to use an agency was Australia, where I've been on both sides of the coin, and been most disgusted with scummy parasitism as a landlord rather than a tenant.

Anyways, as I mentioned, we seem to have found a place to live which is a direct rental from the landlord. The contract is signed, I've transferred the deposit and first month's rent, and I have some keys, and I still can't quite believe it, because of that thing about how much Germans complain, and how much we were told it would be impossible to find a place as foreigners,

When we chose this place - which I think I also can't quite believe we've got because it's quite lovely and 200 euros below our budget - we'd been looking at another place, an agency rental. In fact we'd been there twice. And when I told the agent for it we'd taken something else, he was quite indignant we had made him go there twice, and that we had asked him to talk to the landlord over whether he would be flexible about including the two parking spots in the lease (we don't have a car anymore, so . . .)

This agent stands to make Euro 2,400 off of whatever tenant signs the lease on this place . . . and he was bitching about having to have a conversation with the landlord and visit an apartment twice after putting it on a real estate website. Euro 2,400. That's much more than a month's pay for most people here. And that was too much work for him.


That's not the real issue, of course, which he couldn't talk about, I suppose because he thinks we don't know about it. The real issue is that German real estate law is about to change, in an effort to throw the brakes on runaway rental costs here - as of next month agencies aren't going to be able to charge tenants fees anymore, and will have to charge landlords instead. And that means landlords just won't use them, because in most of the cities here, this is totally a landlord's market right now, and all they have to do is put a sign in the window (which is what ours did). Which means that rental real estate agents are about to feel a pinch and have about three more weeks to cash in.

I guess when the agent heard our shitty Anglo accents and saw my financial records in our "application" package for this place . . . he saw euro signs . . . the last he's likely to see for awhile, since any tenant who can help it (which we aren't - the three of us are living in a glorified furnished studio that the lease runs out on in April, and we are all ready for violence) will wait a few weeks to start looking. Probably already spent it in his head.

I kind of feel sorry for him. 

mercoledì, marzo 04, 2015

Meeting my match

First of all, readers, if you haven't given me up for dead: some  news. I'm in love with Cologne. Our second day here was the local Carnival parade, and we got pelted with bagfuls of candy while everybody dressed up, like some awesome version of Halloween where the city turns into a street party instead of children having to walk door to door like suckers, or even worse what I hear they do these days - no trick or treating and having inside-parties instead. More about me loving Cologne later.

What is striking me as particularly interesting is how painless everything has been so far when Germans have been endlessly insisting to us how completely and inevitably painful everything was going to be. Godzilla is going to a very nice daycare, though there are "no" daycare places (granted I did apply for it almost a year ago). He was accepted at four different and awesome forest kindergartens (granted I did apply to nine, and most of them a couple of years ago), though there are "no" kindergarten places. We seem to have found a really lovely permanent apartment we are signing for tonight, though there are "no" apartments to be found, and agencies have been gagging to get us into others (granted German law is about to change to make agency fees payable by landlords instead of tenants, and new rent controls are coming in, in three weeks, and we are willing to take it up the ass by taking a place now, before the lease on our temporary place runs out).

I am facing three possibilities:

1. We are almost frighteningly lucky and indebted to fate
2. Everything we have managed so far is on the cusp of falling through at the last moment

The F-word, who has lived here in the past and is amused at how I've been girding myself up for Belgian-level bureaucratic insanity that has not yet come, vouches for the third. He says that's why everything is so good here - the sheer weight of complaints waiting behind fragile dams, flooding through when anything slips even slightly below standard. And yes. Everything is good here. Except the weather, and even that has been a refreshing change from 40 degree days and sun that can kill you. All the same, I'm leaning toward two, myself. Three years in Belgium - basically I take nothing for granted anymore until I'm holding it in my hand. I'll let you know what happens.

Of course, dear readers, if you have followed any part of the last however many years of this blog, you will have some notion that if the F-word is correct, and what is happening now is evidence of Germans complaining SO FUCKING MUCH, it makes me love the place even more, because if complaining is the hallmark of this culture, then this culture has the same hallmark as my soul.