Written in black and white

21:40:00 Karen Li 0 Comments

This issue has caused real stress for me once before. When I went to Seattle in 2011, I lived with a lady and her dog which was introduced to me through someone at work. What I had signed up for turned out entirely different to what I got. Instead of the two of us in one bathroom, and a bedroom to enjoy in peace and quiet, the lady had frequent house parties in which I was asked to attend, and the house was eventually filled with 5 people sharing the one bathroom. I am an extrovert outside the home, but at home, I like to chill and spend me time. So the arrangement wasn't working out for me. I began to spend more and more time away from home, often trying to return after she had retired to her own bedroom. Instead of a sanctuary, it became a place of criticism and fear. I spent many nights crying to my God for redemption and asking how I can love people who are so mean to me. Eventually, she called me to the living room and asked me to leave the house. I asked her when, and she said she would give me 24 hours to remove my stuff.

So here's the thing. I was in a different country, I didn't have a car. And I really didn't have anywhere I could go. It was a dark day for me. Still, with that 24 hour limit, I went to church that Sunday. Within the day, I had found another place to stay, and someone from church picked me up and took me there. How that situation ended was another story but it involved staying in an air bnb place with no curtains and back door lock. Then the next place is also another story, sleeping on an inflatable camp mattress in a friend's house that was about to sell (hence no furniture). 

That period of my life was tough. Sometimes I forget about it because I also had some amazing adventures that year. I met some wonderful people. And I grew in confidence. 

The last three weeks reminded me much of that. My baby brother started a new job in Redcliffe, Queensland. And he looked at Flatmates.com.au for potential places. He contacted Person A and said he wanted to move in 10 feb until he found his feet. Person A then asked him when he wanted to have a look, and they arranged to view on 2 Feb. He liked the place, and Person A asked him to put down a 4 week deposit and bond of $400. My brother went on his merry way and moved in on 14 Feb. 

Things started to get a bit dodgy after he moved in. He was told he needed to pay additional money for air conditioning and internet since he was there during the day. My brother was like, fine, let's avoid arguments. New house rules kept being introduced, like not being able to use rubbish bags. She started to host Air bnb hostings without informing my brother. She hosted parties at her place without informing my brother, and moved his personal belongings into his room without asking him when he guests were around. 

Last week, the lady gave notice to my brother about being behind in his rent. This is right after my brother told her he would be moving on in April and forwarded her another 4 weeks rent in advance. WOW. My brother was like, no, should still have a week before he would be behind, but no, the lady thought that his rental started on 2 feb. And they communicated via text because my brother worked night shifts or otherwise located very far away. She started making personal attacks at him, very very very long extended text messages throughout the day... text is the lowest form of communication, you will never be in a relationship, etc. 

My brother, being quite unhappy about the situation came home to talk to us about it, and after praying said he would suffer in silence with the lady for another month. But just as he spoke to us about it, the lady called and said "I want you out of my house now". So my brother was forced to drive 1.5 hours to go pick up his stuff, all the time, she was hovering around him and commenting. He was going to remove the bedsheets to wash, and she screamed at him to get out... "I never want to see you again"... Took his keys, and that was that. 

I was frankly quite shocked that this kind of thing still happens. What is even more shocking were the text messages and communication that followed. After kicking my brother out and taking his keys, she asked him for $100 for cleaning (not that he was given an opportunity to clean when she not so politely asked him to leave straight away taking his keys), extra rent for time between 2 feb and 10 feb, extra rent for not giving 2 weeks written notice that he was leaving (after telling him to get out and not giving him keys). 

All this would have been easier if there was written documentation at the beginning, and if my brother, first time renter, was given his rights and responsibilities. Everyone who has heard this story has provided me with feedback saying that it seems to be a shady deal and that it's likely that this lady is taking advantage of the fact my brother is a first time renter, and time poor. I think that she will try this again with future tenants. 

I am so distressed in this situation. I pray that God will fight for us, and we are still waiting for his mighty will. I am so stressed. I really want to contact the residential tenancy agency to ask for advice, but my brother does not want to make the situation big so that he can be a good christian role model. It is extremely hard to go through this injustice, but so much harder being the bystander. 

Sure, my brother has learned some life lessons about making sure things are written in black and white. I would caution people who move to queensland to check the residential tenancy agency website to understand their rights. I would caution people to have things in writing and not just rely on verbal agreements. And probably never move in with an older lady in 4 Duffield St, Redcliffe QLD unless you have something in writing. 

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