The lease at one of the apartments I've got in Beijing is up in six days. The owner's... "manager / friend / agent / something" (the role is unclear) didn't want to give the security deposit back. Apparently this is very normal in China.
The manager/friend/agent/whatever said we had to give them notice we were going to move out of 30 days to get the security deposit back.
Which seems like nonsense -- with about six weeks left on the lease, we were negotiating with them the rents, but they dragged it out and looked for it to take a long time. They got back to us with their offer of an increase in rents only a few days ago.
I said no, and we'll leave. "Well, you had to give us 30 days notice..."
The manager/agent/friend was being tough on the phone. We just met today, and she came in like a whirlwind of toughness ready for a standoff.
I took out the contract, and my Chinese friend translated. My Chinese friend advised me to say that I had a lawyer look it over. That sounds like a good plan, so we do that. We also went through it in Chinese, and there's nothing in the lease about a 30-day notice you're moving out to get security back.
I show the agent/manager/friend the lease, then a calendar. I say we'll move out 2 days early in the nighttime, on the 6th. The manager/agent/friend says okay. I say, "Please bring the security in cash." She says no. She's in intense and standoffish mode.
I show her the term about moving out, and my friend translates. She says, "Ohhh... umm, shénme?" [What?] Apparently sometimes they write in the 30-day notice term, and then stall until past 30 days on negotiations to try to snare renters or keep the security. It's somewhat of a common practice here.
The woman says she'll do it. Then she starts asking if I can do a Chinese bank account, or Paypal?
I say no. Cash.
She says in Chinese, "Oh, well, you know the owner has the money, I'm really not sure if I can get it by Thursday [2 days before the lease ends], do you want to do Saturday instead?"
I say, "Okay, that's fine too. But let me make this very clear -- we're not leaving until we get cash in hand. I had a friend have a situation like this, and he had to call the police when they didn't want to give him his money back. If you want to do the 8th, that's fine, but let me be very very clear -- we're not leaving until we've got cash in hand."
And then, suddenly, Thursday was preferable. Of course.
But the funny part about all of this? After it all gets agreed to, she flips from being tense and standoffish to being really polite, personable, and friendly. She smiled, and chatted a little, and left.
Just business, eh?