Landlord attempting to claim deductions from Jeonsai

  • My landlord has been a nightmare. I am moving out in a week and the woman had refused to return my key money (I have a jeonsei/wolsei lease ~ 2 years). Although I had told her 4 months prior to the end of the lease that I would not be renewing the contract, she continued to claim that she couldn not return my key money unless another tenant moved in. I didn't ask to leave early, just at the end of my contract.

    Apparently, property owners are always in some kind of debt. Shame on them.

    Finally new tenants did take the apartment, 16 days before the end of my contract, and I did not have a new apartment. Why? Because the landlady kept saying she could not return the key money. So despite finding 3 places, I lost them all because the landlord could not uphold her legal responsibility to return my deposit.

    Yes, I am very angry. But I am trying to give the facts without too much drama.

    So I don't have an apartment, fine. I'm happy I'm getting my key money anyway. However, the woman then turns around and starts making bogus claims that I damaged her apartment. Total lie. She claims I broke a video phone/ doorbell unit. Lie. I told her in my first week that it was broken. The rental agent who showed me the place saw it was broken. That woman has known for more than 2 years that the damn thing was broken. Because it was clear that thing was broken well before I even looked at the place. So now she is trying to make me pay for it's replacement.

    She claims she had a gas range in the villa unit. No, that too is a lie. I bought my own gas range, but she's trying to get me to pay for a new one to give the new tenants.

    She claimed I had to pay half for the wallpapering for the new tenants. Total lie, because in Korea, according to their property law, it's the landlord's obligation to change the wallpaper. So, it's clear that the woman is being sneaky, because she says "okay, I'll be nice, the tenant doesn't have to pay for the wallpaper." Hah! Nice my butt. By the way, the wallpaper was cheap and there was only minor scribbling on 2 small sections of the wallpaper.

    She continues her sneaky, verging on illegal tactics by trying to add the flooring and then retracting the flooring. No damage to the flooring by the way. And also, legally the landlord's responsiblity.

    So I've not even left the place but this woman has been trying to reduce the amount of the deposit to return to me. Even though I met with her and showed her all the damage the previous tenant had done. She couldn't care less. So I changed broken and damaged and disgusting items (bathroom sink, toilet, bathroom tiles, bathroom fixtures, light fixtures for the living room and 3 bedrooms, fan hood in the kitchen, kitchen tiling behind the stove ~ amounting to a little over 1.5 million won of my own money).

    I knew that by spending that money I really couldn't ask her for it back. No problem. I didn't buy a fixer upper, I just RENTED a freaking apartment from a Korean. I made the improvements because I wanted a nice place for my baby to live.

    2 years and I've never asked her to reimburse me. Even now, I just want that person to return my full deposit. However, every time anyone has spoken to her on my behalf (she doesn't speak English, I don't speak Korean) she claims something new.

    I gave her the deposit 2 days earlier than when I moved in. I paid my rent on time every month. I spent 1.5 million won changing the damaged crap that she said was fine. I took care to not damage the place. And she is so greedy and vile, or perhaps corrupt, that she thinks she can falsely claim these things and get away with it. Maybe because I'm an expat, but I believe she's bilked her Korean tenants as well.

    So I've gone to a lawyer. She's been sent a legal warning that if she does not return my deposit in full on the day that I move out a suit WILL be filed against her.

    I've had to deal with the deposit nonsense for at least 6 weeks now. I know it's going to go longer. But I am going to fight and I hope the Korean legal system will not disappoint. However, you never know here.

    I'm telling you this story because the advice for renters on this site is not good enough.

    When you are dealing with a rental agent, yes, the relationship is important. If they like you they will work really hard to find you a great place. Or least okay place. Even if you have a friend translating or helping you out, you need to be aware of a few things. You are going to live there and you are going to suffer the consequences of any sort of contractual dispute. You are the one who is going to lose money. You are the one who is going to suffer. So you need to be very, very prepared.

    Don't let the agents and landlord rush you!!!! They try to get you to sign a contract 10 minutes after looking at a place. Look at a place and bring your camera. Take pictures of any damage. Make notes of problems. When I say problems, I mean everything. Check the water, ask to turn on the boiler system to see if it actually gives you hot water, open the cabinets and look at their condition, if anything is covered by a painting or cloth look under it for damage, check every fixture and item in the apartment. Take pictures of each thing and make a note of each thing as well.

    Then, ask to look at it again before you agree to sign the contract. Check for anything that you missed the first time. Now you need to negotiate. Make sure they will change the wallpaper and flooring. If they don't want to don't sign. They don't have money and will give you a problem when its time to return it to you.

    Go through your list and ask that the repairs be done. If there is anything ... I mean anything .... that the landlord will not fix then you need to have it clearly marked as broken in the contract. If they agree to fix whatever it is, it needs to be clearly marked in the contract. Everything. Broken doorknob, windows don't close properly, wood or walls have any mould. EVERYTHING. Have them include all of it in your contract.

    Most of us are worried that we're going to make some sort of cultural mistake. But this is your money and your time and the place that's supposed to be your sanctuary here. So you need to look out for yourself. You can say everything politely. But if they refuse to put something in the contract then DON'T SIGN IT!

    Trust me, this will save you a lot of headaches down the road.

    I hope that my bad experience with renting an apartment in Korea can help you a little when you decide you want to rent one for yourself.

    14 Jul 2007, 10:44 tenant in Incheon
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  • thanks

    thanks yea, im going to be renting in seoul soon, ill keep all of that in mind, hopefully i find a nice person and not a cheap, broke evil person, lol. also im having a terrible time just trying to find an agent and partments in seoul, got any good ideas?, thanks

    Andrew 10 Nov 2008, 05:53 - Report
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