And when I say nearly, the contracts were all filled in and ready to be signed… but as we all know, landlords are bastards (and I can say that because technically I’m one too… and of course because technically I can say what I want. I’m a little bit crazy like that. A little bit woo, a little bit wah… Okay okay, enough of the Enfield quotes already!!!!)
[And my sincere apologies for the lack of posts of late. The whole flat-hunting thing in Saint Pete is fraught with peril and took a lot out of me]
Anyway, to rent a flat here with Saint Pete requires two agents. One for the landlord and one for the tenant, both of whom get paid by the tenant. This adds a month’s rent before you even get to move in.
Not being too keen on this I was advised to use a website (www.arenda-piter.ru… Piter is just one of the ways that St Petersburg, Saint Petes, St Pete, SPb, Petersburg, etc. is known) which lists the properties available (as posted by the landlords’ agents) and is fully searchable on a number of parameters. It will still claim that the agents fee is equal to one month’s rent, but essentially you can negotiate this down to half a month’s rent because you have essentially done the job of tenant’s agent.
And I mean, you really have done the job of tenant’s agent!
Before we tried to rent this flat, my perspective flat-mate (no, not prospective, she gets smaller as she walks further away, I promise) and I had been searching this website to no avail (she’s Russian by the way… I figured it would help negotiations on agent fees if I steered well clear), but I’d previously inadvertently left a message with a tenants agent (or rather a friend had on my behalf), who called back to offer her help.
In desperation I went to her office to see what kind of service she could provide. She sat me down at her desk… and loaded up the website my flat-mate and I had been checking the previous evening! I pointed out that I’d have seen everything unless it had just been posted, and I certainly wasn’t gonna pay any extra money due to a quirk of timing.
Excuses made, I left… and my (still at this stage, potential) flat mate was away in Moscow for the weekend, so needing to stop haemorrhaging money on hotel/hostel living, this is when I almost sacked her off and went for the Soviet room.
She begged me to wait as she’d already seen the Liverpool flat, and was meeting the landlord on Tuesday (this was Saturday)… I asked if I could view it before then (as there was no point waiting for a flat I didn’t like), and she arranged for me to go over that evening…
…and the flat was nice. The landlord was an Italian and his agent seemed nice enough. His Russian mother in-law was there and was making jokes. All was good… except the terms.
Most shared apartment buildings have a centralised heating and hot water system (which is great because you don’t have to worry about it being cold) for which you pay a monthly communal charge. The agent’s posting had included this in the price (30,000 rub per month or around £410 at current rates), but the landlord was having none of it and wanted to charge for electric, water and telephone too.
After a telephone exchange between himself and flat-mate (FM) in Moscow a compromise seemed to be agreed, so we arranged to all meet there on the Tuesday to sign the contracts and move in…
We turned up on Tuesday with our money and contracts were filled in. Italian was leaving the country the next day so basically just wanted as much cash as possible. He decided he needed an extra month rent as deposit which we didn’t have, but if the agent could forego his fee until the next day, then we could use that and I could go to the cashpoint to get the extra.
He also decided that the telephone arrangement was no longer valid, and FM was concerned that the bills may be high (Italian was very cagey about the amounts, although he must have had at least an idea), so she renegotiated an all in monthly rent including the communal charge and bills… Italian had obviously worked out that this was less than he’d actually be paying and saw green.
His initial request for 30,000 rub had become 60,000 rub with deposit, and now with bills and communal charge (which we hadn’t used any of at this point) he was demanding 70,000 rub. This is where I stepped in and said no (the landlord spoke good English btw). Before I’d gone to the cashpoint he’d have been happy with 60,000 and I hadn’t got (and wasn’t prepared to go and get) the extra 10,000.
He had a hissy fit and cancelled the whole thing… Italians, eh! Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. He was now leaving the country with no extra cash, no tenants… and last I looked the apartment was still advertised as including bills and communal charge in the price, so he’ll have the same issues with anybody else who views and decides to take it.
I’d rather have dealt with a Scouser. They may try to rob you blind, but at least they have the business sense to back down rather than lose the deal.