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Be careful - terrible rental experience (Yangon)

I hope this message can make you alert how terrible experience foreigner could been through when we rent a place to live or doing business in Yangon.

Many of my expat friends have issues with their landlords but no one has been through so terrible like me.

I hope you can share and warn all your friends if you know anyone going to Yangon.

Location: Apartment Protected content , 12/F, Building C, Royal Thiri Condo (Above North Point Supercenter), 9 Mile, Mayangone Tsp.
Owner of this apartment: U Hla Min (NRC Number: 12/MaYaKa (Naing Protected content

I rent this apartment in July Protected content here is what happen in past 1 year.

Nightmare begin – Sign the contract
On the date we sign the temporary lease contract, this landlord has occupied me for 4 hours and non-stop shout to my agent and tried to make me pay more than what we agreed.
Unreasonable behavior include
- order my agent to get out from the apartment
- humiliated my agent until she cry
- throw the phone to my agent’s face
The drama has stop after I said I’m not going to rent this place and prepare to leave, then the landlord agree to sign the contract.

What I was thinking at that time:
"The landlord is a little bit manic, maybe people here are like this. We really like this apartment, we really need to move out from hotel, so far we haven't find any other apartment better than this, if we don't make any trouble and it should be fine i guess, plus we don't have to live with the landlord and we don't need to deal with him because we pay 1 year rent up front, if the apartment have problem and the landlord doesn't want to fix, then we fix by ourselves, it should be fine to sign the contract, right?"

Bad decision: We signed the contract

Between the date we signed the temporary contract and the date we sign the official contract, the landlord has withdrawn what he agreed to offer at the beginning, including internet installation and TV subscription.

What we do in this case: We compromised and we paid for it.

2nd phase of nightmare – condition of this apartment
The Landlord has agreed handover the clean apartment to us before we move in. When I move in, the kitchen cabinet and under the sofa is full of dead cockroach, cockroach shit and cockroach eggs; the closet is full of spiders and spider nets; a lot of unknown insect around the pipes, the balcony are full of ants. I got a lot of bite in first 2 weeks.

What we do in this case: I didn't make the complaint to landlord because I understand different country might have different standard of "full clean", I did the full cleaning work by myself until I have maid to help after 1 week.

After we move in, some hidden problem start coming out from this unit
- one of the air-cond is not working properly and other one has leaking problem;
- the hot water machine is not working;
- the shower head is broken,
- the balcony door lock is broken,
- the mattress is falling apart (it was covered by bed sheet that provided by the landlord),
- the toilet fan doesn’t connect to anywhere and it just decoration and the motor sound doesn’t mean anything (we found out because the no window toilet got so humid even we turn the fan on 24hrs and we open the ceiling and look)
- the walls have mold because of poor quality of outside building wall (see attached)
- have Centipede come out from the pipe hole in shower area, need to be very careful when taking shower
- there are insect problem in this unit - cockroach, spider and ants

Result: The landlord fix some but not all, as I mentioned above, we do prepare to fix the problem by our own if the landlord refuse to do it. I just don't understand why the landlord only fix some but all, then I found out on the day of handover, he tried to charge me crazy for those small jobs.

3rd phase of nightmare – health hassle
I was sick almost every couple month while I live in this apartment, I guess my coughing and sneezing are caused by the mold (see attached - first watermark, then become mold, I tried to use alcohol to remove it, but just keep coming back after rain), I have to got out the apartment for 1 month and I came back after I feel better, then I got sick again after 3 weeks, I never been sick like this in the past. So I actually live in this apartment for 6 months because I was stay somewhere else for 6 months during my rental period. The landlord has cover this problem very well with new painting but the mold come out in raining season (we move-in in July and the wall just new painted), he has promised to re-paint it after raining season but he didn’t do it.

4th phase of nightmare – breaking contract and harassment
Our contract has included one parking space, this landlord rent out the parking space that we paid to 3rd party without consent us. We disagree with his arrangement and he has harassed us by calling us non-stop in mid of the night (the proved evidence upon request) and sent people over to destroy the kitchen cabinet (the proved evidence upon request). At that time, I don't really understand why he did the damage in his own apartment and his own furniture. On the date I return the apartment to him and I found out why, the reason is he is going to charge me for this.

What I was thinking: Why he did this to us? If I didn't pay 1 year rent in advance and I will definitely walk away from this apartment. Is it what he wants? He wants us to move out and he keeps the rent?

5th phase of nightmare – handover the apartment
My agent has confirmed with this landlord more than 3 times, I will get the deposit back on the date I return the key, show him all the paid utility bills and return the apartment to him as like the condition when I move in. The landlord also agreed to take responsibility about what he damage in kitchen cabinet. So I was so naïve and I thought just take my deposit back after inspection.

However, on the date of handover, the landlord brought 9 people into the apartment and accused me as follows
1. I need to pay for all the installation and repair that he did in the 1st month when we move in - hot water machine, shower head etc (never mention in anytime in anywhere in the past, neither writing nor verbally)
2. I need to pay for what they damage in kitchen (the harassment they did and they agreed to take responsible on it)
3. I need to pay for some items he claims are missing in the apartment that is not in inventory list and I never see it from the first day I live in this apartment.

I refused to accept his unreasonable and non-sense accusation. Then, he and his brother start yelling at me with all kind of dirty words they can think of, including
- Chinese big
- Mother fucker
- Son of bitch etc
Also, kept pointing me with their middle figure.

I got really scared at that time because I was alone and they have 9 people, I was trying very hard to act normal. I don't chose to make this happen but when it's happen, I tried to face it and deal with it.

So I told the landlord if he keep yell to me like this and he will get heart attack or stroke, then he start dance in living room and said “I like it, I like it”. YES, IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE BUT IT DID HAPPEN.

Then, I made very clear statement – I still paying the rent on the date of handover, I will not give him back anything if I don’t get my deposit back and he needs to leave the apartment with his people. Then, the landlord jump on the dining table and seat on the dining table and said this is his apartment and he will not go anywhere. He will wait until 12am mid-night and kick me out.

I start to call for help, including police, lawyer, embassy and friends.

After over 20 phone calls, one of my friends who run the real estate agency that help me to settle the deal with this landlord over the phone and I got some of my deposit back. His name is Robin and his agency name Pronto, he is the only one could provide help to me in this desperate and nasty situation.

This whole rental experience taught me a lesson.
1. In Yangon, if you have any trouble with your landlord, you will be in your own, there are no one could give you immediate help.
2. Myanmar do really under developed in term of protecting foreigner who lives here, it really allow the local to take advantage from foreigner and threaten and insult foreigner like this.
3. When comes to money, some of the Burmese really behave like thief, pirate and robber.
4. There is very important to chose the good landlord and professional agent who can protect you when you look for the place (even more important than finding the nice place to stay). My agent tried their best to do their job but they cannot help me much because they got scared and threaten by this landlord too.
5. Need to check landlord's reference if you find there is something not right at the beginning.
6. This whole rental experience is definitely like scam - at first, the landlord through humiliate to my agent in order to get more rent from us; second, thought harassment and distribution to force us leave without taking our pre-paid rent back; last, through threatening and insulting to keep the deposit.

We can compromise in contract terms, we can tolerate with in-prefect place to live. But breaking contract like this, harassed us like this, insult and humiliate and threaten me like this, that is way too far to cross my bottom line. This is the reason why I post my story, people should alert about this landlord and no one deserve to be treat like this way.

I believe this is not first time this landlord doing this to push people out before the contract end and tried to steal money from the deposit with un-reasonable talk. I also believe he will keep doing this to make his living.

1. The landlord in Yangon do like come to inspect the property without notice.
2. The landlord in this property is heavy smoker, on the day we sign contract and on the day I return the apartment, he and his people were smoking inside the apartment one after one, they don't care there are non-smoker, pregnant woman and baby inside the room.

I have record of phone harassment, the mold condition inside apartment, how they destroy the kitchen, the photo will be upon request.