The pitfalls of renting an apartment in Thailand
In Bangkok, the following chain of events is quite common where apartment buildings are concerned.
A new apartment building is constructed and glossy sales literature is distributed, advertising all the usual facilities - in no particular order; ample parking, easy access to expressways, mini-mart, 24-hour security system, sauna & gymnasium, satellite TV, and cleaning service. The place sounds like paradise, and what a bargain at 10,000 baht a month. Employees are then carefully recruited. The receptionists have toothpaste - commercial smiles, the gym trainer looks like he can have you in shape within a fortnight, and the cleaners greet you with a cheery hello every time you walk by. Even the security guard stands ramrod stiff and salutes you as you nip to the mini-mart for a bottle of milk. And as for the woman in the mini-mart, she’s like the auntie you never had.
All that remains is for the apartment owner to fill the place with residents. Not so easy as he soon discovers. He employs a couple of girls purely to show the rooms off to prospective renters. The girls will unlock rooms on every floor, explain where all the fixtures and fittings are, and answer any questions you may have about rental fees. They will do anything short of dropping to their knees and begging you to be the father of their children. You take one final look around and with a sharp intake of breath “great – I’ll take it”.
In the early days of your new life as a resident at Paradise Towers, something dawns on you – the building is 90% empty (or 10% full as the owner prefers to see it). The months pass by and apart from the Japanese salary-man who has moved in to room number 657 and the seven bargirls that share a room on the first floor overlooking the sewage treatment bay, it feels as though the whole building belongs to you. In effect, it does. But your 10,000 baht a month, although very much appreciated, doesn’t pay salaries, and before too long, everything begins to fall apart.
The security guard is replaced by a cheaper security guard that divides his time between playing his Walkman and taking one of his many daily naps. Most of the time he just isn’t there. The gymnasium manager and the only receptionist that speaks decent English will both quit over a wage dispute. The gym now becomes a place for spiders to practice web-building skills and any interaction with the reception now requires knowledge of international sign language. The sauna is permanently locked and bolted and the key hangs around the owner’s neck. Access to the sauna room now becomes possible only on every third Friday in a month that has an ‘R’ in it. The mini-mart opens for four hours a day when you are at work, and the ample car-park becomes a gathering place for bare-arsed kids and dogs of questionable generic background. The bill to the satellite TV company doesn’t get paid so the actual satellite dish is replaced by a dustbin lid that can pick up 37 channels in Hindi.
And the final straw – four of the letters drop off the apartment signage and you now have the embarrassment of explaining to your colleagues that you live at –AR---SE TOWERS. Easy access to the freeway does however remain, but I neglected to mention at the beginning that this only applied to helicopter owners.
Q: Had an apartment problem, been cheated, or is it home sweet home?
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