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Realty Bites


doumeizhen

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We recently rented an apartment through a Realty/Zhongjie Company (中恒建业)and it's been nothing but trouble. The apartment, which was totally cluttered with old man stuff, has a lot of potential, but when we cleared out 20 years worth of calendars and junk we found some problems which we couldn't have noticed before doing so. These include gas leaks (the windows were open when I was checking it out) and water that runs out of electrical appliances (ceiling lamp) when it rains. I asked the company to fix it and they said no. So I asked them to return our money and they said no, plus some expletives and an invitation to sue. I finally got them to send a repair man after spending two days on the phone with the consumer complaints hotline, but he simply caulked our sink and said that the rest were not problems. So, finally, I figured out who to call for the gas leak (the company refused to give me the number) and the gas man refused to come - why? Because the address on the contract DOES NOT EXIST. He eventually came up with some coaxing, but we're definitely not going to stay. So, here's the question. What would you do in this case? They are holding hostage more than two months rent and a deposit, which we'd like to have back. Technically, they have violated the contract (if not by providing an unlivable apartment, then by not providing the apartment listed) and that means that technically they have to pay us two months rent in violation fees. Should we hire a lawyer and press for it? They lawyer would surely take the money, but would it be worth it, for the principle? Who else can enforce this? I'm curious to know if anyone else ever had this kind of situation, and how you got out of it?

Jennifer

P.S.: Consumer complaints hotline is 12315, and they are very good at getting people to do stuff.

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Various routes you might try, although where actual responsibility lies, and who will take it . . .

If the agency is a chain, the head office

Local police, neighborhood committee

Housing administration, eg http://fgj.bjchy.gov.cn/ - it's not top floor is it? Sounds suspiciously like one of those places builders illegally add to the top floor of a development if the address isn't on databases

Industrial and commercial bureau

Best of luck though, crappy situation to be in.

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You don't need a lawyer to actually sue him, but you do need someone of some stature -- who might be a lawyer or might be someone else -- to deal with him on your behalf. If the owner thinks you're two foreigners with no connections of any sort, then he's just going to ignore you.

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I posted a reply to this... Maybe I never submitted the preview? Now for the shorter, lazier version.

Go to their office, argue until you win.

If nothing will work, simply stand there and don't leave, you don't always use words.

There's nothing they hate more than an angry customer not leaving.

Well, maybe one thing... losing money and having an angry customer not leaving.

So this is why when they have potential customers come in, you should feel free to enlighten them.

I would estimate this should last a maximum of 1 lost customer before they give in.

They assume if they ignore the problem long enough, it will go away, so don't go away.

Someone will give up first, make sure it's them.

If they threaten to call the police, remember, the police are on your side.

Always be polite, respectful, and in the right, don't get physical. As long as you are in the right at all times, it should work..

A little emotion may help too, show frustration mixed in with your stubbornness.

Make your hand shake just a little and flex your neck muscles to show anger, without being hostile.

All these elements should add together to create a great performance, but there are a few key elements:

• Don't touch anyone

• Don't break anything

• Always be in the right

• Be a frustrated upstanding community member

• Be the victim, you never want to be seen as an aggressor

• Show control of strong emotion, furious but NEVER violent or aggressive (shaking hand [almost a vibration - like when you're angry beyond control - but be in control] and flex your neck muscles)

• Be more trouble than the money, they can always rent it to someone else who is less troublesome

• Be polite, don't shout or yell

• Be forgiving, when you win, say thank you, whether they deserve it or not?

• If it's a larger organisation, demand to speak to a manager, who will be at lunch (they always are), mobile number... ? no? well we'll wait for them to get back, but wait right next to where they work, standing, not sitting and don't move anywhere else.

• Always be seen as a respectable victim to anyone who may see, including customers and police. <== This has been said over and over but I can't stress the importance enough.

If they day ends, be there in the morning before they start work. (This won’t happen I'm sure)

Persistence is the key to all things, and at one point the problem must be greater than the losses:

They can re-rent the house out to someone else, so there's not a great amount of loss there.

If you scare off customers (politely and fairly) they will lose money.

You're a problem that they can't remove (you're so stubborn)...

There's my advice, good luck, make sure, never fight, or yell or give them any ammunition to use against you. In the absolute worst case scenario (God forbid), some one hit you for not leaving, don't touch them, say "police", take that to the police. I'm looking at the unimaginable, but you need more ammo than them, and to be right.

I think I over commarated this post, and invented a new term... Commarated!

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A gas leak is a very serious thing and should be fixed, even if you have to pay someone yourself to find someone competent to do so.

Regarding Matty's advice, I would suggest not going alone. Ideally, bring along a few male friends and a video camera or a cell phone that can do video in case things start to get out of hand. I don't have as much faith that the police will side with me unless I have evidence.

As for me, I wouldn't be that comfortable being inside the agent's office. I would rather be in front with protest signs since that will cause them to lose both customers and "face." In the office, only a few people will know. On the street, the entire neighborhood will know. Also, you could come and go on the street without losing face yourself.

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