The thing that I really ought to be concentrating on is that we've got a nice apartment which I think we'll enjoy living in, but there were a few things that happened on the way to this that I found incredibly stressful and made me very angry. I've (mostly) managed to let it go because otherwise I was probably going to have a heart attack and I'm going to give the outline of it here and then that's it and I'll leave it.
The lady who was helping us find an apartment is a rental agent but she was also acting as a broker/mediator between us and other rental agents. I'd been asked to produce a list of things that I wanted and she would then find properties that matched this. Based on a short conversation with someone from Johnny's firm I came up with some ideas and then we met rental lady on Friday. We saw six properties in total and there were at least two that we knew we wouldn't want to live in and there was one that really stuck out as being the best and another that would be a good back-up. The differences between our favoured apartment and the second choice was that favoured apartment was more expensive, had higher management fees and no fridge/cooker/dishwasher. Favoured apartment was the palaver with paying rent in cash whereas the second choice was all above board and with a fitted kitchen. It was slightly smaller and it wasn't as private but it was significantly cheaper. We decided that because of the 'dirty' money (that was the agent's term) we wouldn't be comfortable with the favoured apartment and would go for the second apartment.
When we said that we wanted to go for the second apartment she called us a bit later and said that the landlord for the favoured apartment would be prepared to accept the rent 'clean' if we wanted to go ahead, but we felt that we couldn't really afford it and asked her to make arrangements to rent the second apartment. We were a bit disappointed that we'd only seen six properties and that there had only been two that we would be happy with but we accepted that accommodation is difficult in Athens. A few hours later the rental lady came back and said that she'd negotiated with the other agent and managed to reduce the price on the favoured apartment to be the same price as the second apartment but because of the hefty management fees for the garden and that we would have to get electrical equipment we decided we would still go with the second choice.
Later that day the rental lady called back and said that the second apartment actually had management fees that were at the same level as the favoured property. The favoured property has a lift, large lobby, large maintained gardens and underground parking with extra storage. The second property has no parking, no garden, no lift and a small stairwell. We couldn't work out what the management fees were for and at this point I became less polite and pressed her to find out exactly what we were paying for.
To shorten a lengthy and pretty dull story we ended up after much shouting and many phonecalls to agree on the first property because it was now the same price as the second choice and it had so much more to offer even if we had to buy a cooker and fridge. All through this Johnny and I were suspicious that there was something going on somewhere because she was really pushing us towards the first choice and everything about the second choice was going wrong. On the day we were to sign the contract she telephoned Johnny and we agreed the time and place to meet the landlord and pass over the money and she added at the end of the conversation that she had now found out from the other agent who the landlord was; by an absolute coincidence the landlord is her neighbour and an old friend of the family! Would you believe it? She didn't know! Quelle surprise la la la! And would you believe that the other agent is the landlord's niece? Really? What a coincidence.
I don't believe for one moment that our agent didn't know all this when she showed us the property and if she'd been honest about this then I wouldn't have minded, but what I will never know – and this is what I have to let go of – is whether or not she did her best in looking for other properties. I just have to accept that we have got somewhere nice to live but I really hate being taken for a mug.
oh that was epic and dull.
What is great is that the landlord (Nikos) and his wife speak excellent English and so if we have problems with the apartment then we'll be able to talk to them. We are also getting a nice apartment.