Readers' Submissions

Money Hungry Thais

Regarding a recent reader's submission about how money motivates (or not) some of the locals, as well as their level of short-sightedness and their tendency to deceive (which I am sure has been covered in numerous other submissions): I rented until late last year quite a nice condo near the Chao Praya river. It was quite a nice place, had a pool etc. and I had a nice view of the river from the 17th floor. Probably, I would not have moved out had it not been for a money hungry landlord, greedy to a point I had never seen before in Thailand, and I've been here 10 years now.

Every month, he would send me the utility bills and I'd just add it all up and then deposit the whole amount, including the month's rent, into his bank account as per our agreement. The amount would come to some uneven figure like XXXXX baht and XX satang, let's say 21 satang. I just rounded it down to an even number, without the satang. For the following month's bill, he had added 21 satang and the comment "You did not pay 21 satang last month". Also, he always demanded payment on the due date, not a minute later. Ok, fair enough, but with most bills you're allowed to be up to five days late in your payment. Not so with this guy. As soon as it was one day past due date, he would call me up and ask where his payment is. He was not slow to point out that the contract allows him to cut off electricity and water in case payment was not made promptly. Or, he would send someone over to my place to ask if I could write a check and hand it over there and then.

When I first moved in there, I was told by the landlord that the unit comes without a parking space. I know that some condos charge extra for a parking space so I didn't think much of it. Conveniently though, the landlord also ran a parking lot right behind the condo and I could park my car there at a reduced fee, which I agreed to. After a couple of months he said he must now charge the full monthly fee for parking, no more discount. Only then did I check with the condo about parking and it turned out that every unit does in fact come with a parking space included. My guess is that the landlord was using it or, more probable, he was renting it out. The agreement was for the unit without parking space, so I'm not arguing that.

But I think the set-up clearly shows his level of greed, or as he might call it, entrepreneurship. In connection with the parking lot there was a toilet, your regular squat type toilet inside a little concrete box. After a while, a sign was put up stating that there is a five baht fee for using the toilet. I guess he didn't get many customers for his toilet business and he then had the "5" on the sign replaced with a "3". It's possible that he realized that it was not worth the effort and some time after the sign was gone.

One day, I locked myself out. It had happened to me once before and it's not a big deal, just call the locksmith. However, this time it was close to 8 pm and it turned out to be somewhat difficult to find a locksmith working at this hour. The staff at the condo tried their best in locating one but they agreed that most locksmiths would have gone home for the day already. I then suggested that we just drill the lock and then I'll pay for a new one to be put in the next day. The staff felt they had to call the landlord to get his permission for this so they called him, and let me talk to him. I explained to him my plan and then he said that if we destroy the lock, it will cost 10,000 baht to have a new one installed. I asked him if he was joking but he said he was not. Jokingly, I asked him if the lock was made of gold, as it just looked like plain brass to me. He just repeated that it will cost 10,000 baht for a new lock. I hung up, not wanting to waste more of my time on him. I asked the staff and they let me know that a complete new lock, not just the locking mechanism, would cost about 2,000, or less. I had seen similar ones for about 1,000.

Finally, the helpful staff did manage to find a locksmith, so it cost just a few hundred to have the door opened. The locksmith opened the door in about one minute (I timed it). I duly notified the landlord that I will be moving out when the contract expires, which is what I did.

Half a year later, I heard that he had not found a new tenant, how he regretted that I had moved out, and that he had lowered the rent several thousand baht to prop up interest. Som nam naa. I don't want to get much upset about greedy Thais. I have my own problems. I can't stay here if I have to get upset all the time about how they try to rip people off. As much as I can, I avoid them. Most Thais that I meet are mostly nice to me. Did I get a better landlord? I decided to buy a place, and so far I am happy.

Stickman's thoughts:

Good on you for moving out. That landlord sounds like a right prick!