Lessons from a Spanish Landlord
Do you remember when your parents would tell you about that old car they had to drive when they were younger? You know, the one with the different colored door and that just needed a “good push” to start the engine? But they kept on trucking, and drove that jalopy as long as they had to in order to save money. Well, is that how it should be with apartments as well?
What is the straw that breaks the camel’s back when it comes to putting up with a bad apartment?
A dripping faucet- O.K. A shower drain that doesn’t drain- gross but bearable. A landlord who doesn’t fix problems quickly- annoying but forgivable. But when you mix all these problems into the boiling cauldron of dysfunction, and add one extra ingredient- bed bugs, for example- this becomes the proverbial straw.
And so the struggle begins.
This is exactly my current problem, as I try to run away from a bed bug infested apartment. The worst part is that the bed bugs arrived right at the height of summer, when my landlord was away (along with everyone else in Spain) and the best he could do was tell me to spray insect repellent around the apartment. While that did not solve my problem, I did learn a few tips on how to deal with landlords, which I will now share to hopefully spare you some grief:
1. Communication is key – Don’t be afraid of coming off too demanding or too picky. Even if you don’t speak the same language there are ways to get your message across.
2. Be willing to negotiate. If there is something that you don’t like, tell your landlord and see if they can lower the rent or if they will fix or get rid of it. This can be intimidating, but everyone does it.
3. Be polite – Whether this is with your current landlord, or with a real estate agent. If the person who is showing you the apartment takes a liking to you, they might reveal some real estate secrets or try and help you out a bit more.
Hopefully with this in mind, you won’t end up in a foreign country stuck between bed bugs or no bed!