Monday, June 28, 2010

The Saga of the Nosy Landlady

I’ve never rented an apartment in the States, but I’m fairly sure that it’s customary for landlords or landladies to call before popping in to take care of things.

Apparently not so much in Korea.

I assumed that for some reason it was just my landlady, but I asked a co-worker and she said that it was pretty normal for landladies to stop on by whenever or not to call beforehand, since they see their rental property as an extension of their house.

But do they have to do it in the morning? When I’m trying to sleep?

I suppose in their defense, I do sleep in late (about 10 or 11 am) but mostly because I work a night shift and often don’t get home until 11pm and in bed around 1 or 2 am. But, I have lived in this apartment for nearly two years now, and for about the last year, I’ve had this schedule, you would think they would learn to come on my day off in the afternoon by now instead of banging on my bedroom door trying to wake me up at 8 am.

Most of the time, they do only come over when something is broken and I call for them to come fix it. But even then, they don’t come right away and they never tell me when. I just have to sit there and wait patiently. Or get woken up the next morning. And sometimes the washing machine breaks, they have to rush over to turn the water off. At 7 am.

Honestly, a simple call involving the words ‘mul’ (water) and ‘setaki’ (washing machine) would suffice. I know how to turn the water off. And then another call giving me fair warning that they are on their way up to fix the water would be great, so I could at least have the chance to throw on some decent clothes before they are pounding down my front door (or sometimes my bedroom door if I’m sleeping particularly heavy that morning).

But today. Today was the most uncomfortable experience.

At 7 am, I am woken by the sound of pounding on my bedroom door. I throw on something decent and rush out to find my landlady sopping up water in the laundry room. She starts saying something about water and such and pointing at the machine. After about 10 minutes, she leaves. I debate whether I should stay up in case they come back to fix the machine, but sleepiness wins and I crawl back in bed, figuring the knocking on the front door will wake me up again.

Just as I’m about to enter dreamland, about two hours later, there is another knock. It’s the landlady’s husband with a new hose for the washing machine. He works on it for about 10 minutes and then explains the problem to me. I step back to let him leave, thinking if he leaves now, I can still get another hour of sleep in.

Of course, he doesn’t leave.

Instead, he digs through my fridge and pulls out some plume wine that’s been in there since April and drinks it. (This was fine as neither my roommate nor I touch the stuff.) At this point, I’m washing dishes, trying to keep busy while he’s there. He peeks in the cupboards, checks out the bathroom and checks the drain, deeming everything ‘good’. Then he sees the grill on my stove and says ‘not good’. He then proceeds to take my stove apart and scrub them in the bathroom with our bathroom cleaning brush that we use to scrub the floors. He’s at it for about 20 or 30 minutes while I bleach the entire kitchen area, including my coffee pot, toaster oven and fridge.

Once done with this, he checks around the apartment some more. Tries talking to me about random things. And then, after an hour, finally leaves. My landlady and her husband are very nice people, but I hate that they always come over unannounced. Some of my other friends here don’t seem to have the same problem, but I suppose their apartments aren’t old and falling apart like mine… Ugh…

Seriously… all I ask for is just one phone call…


  1. That does sound a little strange to me. My landlord/lady never came around, but then again nothing broke! I know that in the UK there's a clause in rental contract that the LL should give you 24 hours notice but I don't think that's so common in Asia.

  2. Yea, I've heard of it happening to a few others, including my boyfriend at his previous apartment. Though most of my friends never had this problem. In the past, I would go about 2 or 3 months without seeing them, but now it seems like it's every other week.