We had an apartment which got vacant in July 2021. While the tenant had given a notice in May, we struggled to find a tenant by the time it got vacated. I put an advertisement in an online portal and waited. People did enquire, but nothing seriously materialised till first week of Aug, when I had three prospects to choose from.

Mr A, was from Chennai and shifting to Coimbatore. He had had a promising chat with me on the phone a week back, but when he saw the flat, he realised that it would be far for his daughter’s school and finally declined.

Mr B was interested in the flat right away and made an offer, slightly lower than my expectations, but I was willing to consider the same.

Mr C was making the same offer as Mr B, but in his case, it was his friend who had seen the flat and he would be travelling from Chennai just to see the flat and decide.

Considering the fact that Mr C was offering the same as Mr B, I suggested he need not travel as I would go with Mr B. This was around Aug 8, when i told Mr B, that we can proceed with the deal and he has to make a token advance payment for the deposit of Rs XXXXXX. He agreed to deposit 10% of the amount and did so in cash into my account the next day. 

The next issue was on the shifting date. While I wanted him to shift ASAP, he said he can only shift by Sept 15. While I was agreeable that my demand for moving ASAP was not fair, his point to move by Sept 15 was about 15 days more, as Sept 1 would have been an ideal date. He said he would try but indicated it would be unlikely.

As the lead was from an online portal, and he just verbally told me that he worked for Reliance retail, I requested him to provide me two references to vouch for him. I indicated that at least one should be from his place of work. As its his work that assures me of his ability to pay the rent regularly.

by Aug 20, he had not come back to me on the references. He had not paid the balance deposit amount and had not confirmed back on an earlier joining date. Still, in good faith, I had drafted the agreement and got him to sign two copies of the same. Interestingly, he even got his family, (Wife and two daughters) to visit the flat at that time. They made sure that minor and major requirements in the flat upkeep had been taken care of, etc.)

On Aug 22, he indicated that he would like to shift in by Sept first week, and wanted me to hand over the keys, but he will be able to pay the rent only form Sept 15 (as he assumed that I would not have anything to do with the apartment till then anyway). I politely told him that it does not work that way. Then he says that he will pay the 15 days extra rent from Sept 1 to 15 in the Oct month rent. That was the first sign that I felt something was fishy. 

Then on Aug 23, when i asked him about the balance deposit, he said, please give me time till Sept 1, as I will get the deposit refund from current house and I can pay the same to you. I did not ask him, but did not understand how his current landlord would relinquish the deposit full 15 days before the date of moving out. This was the next sign of something wrong.

By Aug 24, he had still not come up with the references. He indicated that for him to even cite any references from work, his HR had to approve and the approval was taking time. He indicated this is so because of some past mistakes in UP, etc. (look at the choice of state in his example). I had his aadhar card copy and ratified that he was with reliance some 20 years back. There was no indication on the cite that he was still working with them. This was the third hint that something was wrong.

On around Aug 27, I had a long talk with him. I told him moving in early will not happen if he cannot advance the shifting date officially. And I pressed him further on the references, he could not even send me an email from official email id (as I requested), citing that Reliance requires some prior registration before someone can send an email. He said I cannot send an email to him as well, as that is also not allowed, or something. I could not stop laughing at the lengths this man was going to. He had completely missed the point that I had spent more than 2 decades in the tech industry. The reason I was not being rude and slamming the guy for such nonsense, was I did not want to be rude to him. 

But immediately after this call, I spoke to a friend and we agreed that I should just call this off.

I drafted him a simple request to him:  I told him a story how a friend of mine thinks I am being fooled here but I believe Mr B is honest and in order for him to help me win the argument with my friend,  he needs to give me some kind of ID of Reliance to share. 

But on Sept 1, he himself messaged and said he could not go ahead with the agreement. The reason? His father has passed away after having been hospitalised for a few days. 

With due respect to him for his loss and my deepest condolences, I was not at all happy  that I was being taken for a ride all along. He had observed my whatsapp status and he knew what kind of a person I was. Its my belief that he realised he could not take this story much far as best to back out before it got ugly.

But for me, I was totally cheesed off. He immediately started sending messages asking for the refund of the advance money. My first thought was to withhold the money. there was no contractual clause to allow me to do that. It was just an outcome of anger at having been cheated in this way.

My next thought was to hold back part of the amount, say I am donating to charity or something and convince him that fighting on this would be futile, etc. I could not believe all the vicious thoughts that were emanating in my mind. I could not believe that the person would be bold to involve his family into something so fishy as to fake about his place of work to take a house on rent, etc. 

Then, two days back, after almost 2 weeks of delaying the matter, I quietly refunded the entire advance amount to him. I realised doing anything else would have meant a constant battle, if not explicit than in quiet with this gentleman, who had absolutely no role in my life. I was needlessly introducing him as a chapter in my life, when he clearly did not deserve such space.To even touch a paise of that money was wrong for me. By relinquishing the amount, I can blame my fate and bad luck for the house having remained vacant and hope I have a better tenant in future to look forward to. 

That’s the learning from all this. In life, always try to be the ‘bigger’ person and not the ‘smaller’ or the ‘cheap’ one. Do not harbour ill feelings, especially for people who don’t deserve any feelings in the first place, as it would do you more damage than the other person.

Not sure why I shared it here.. but I am feeling glad that I vented this out. 

P.S. The importance of the cover pic.. its from the terrace of that apartment building!!

 

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Hetal Sonpal

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