After leaving China on the 30th August with the landlord threatening to have a locksmith open the door and change the lock, I returned to a busy schedule in Japan.
Two lawyers and the real estate agent assured me that not even this crazy landlord would be so stupid as to have somebody open the door without my permission as that would be a clear breach of several laws, and that the only way he could gain access to the room was if I were to open the door. Since there was no way I was going to do that, I felt sure that it would just be a problem to return to when I came back to Qingdao in October after the Chinese holiday (October 1st to 7th).
Of course, I should have learnt by now: nothing is ever that simple.
On about the 28th of September, some workmen arrived asking my staff to open the apartment above so they could replace the water meter. This was being done in every room in the building, and that in itself wasn’t a problem. What made me suspicious was that the landlord was there as well. Since the landlord was there, I told my staff that they were not to open the door, and that even if the whole building had its water turned off for an extended time, it was just because the landlord wouldn’t fulfill his legal obligations when we terminated the contract—paying me my money back!
But, the workman, a lady from the office responsible for maintaining the entire complex (six buildings), the landlord, as well as my staff all said that I should allow the water meter to be changed as it wouldn’t alter our situation. So, on the condition that the landlord left after the work was completed (about 30 minutes) and was not allowed to change the locks, I somewhat reluctantly agreed to have the door unlocked.
As soon as the door was unlocked and the water meter was being changed, the landlord had a locksmith change the locks, and told my member of staff to keep it a secret and pretend that he had done it himself during the holiday period. Apparently there was nothing she could do to stop him.
She reported the story to me that evening, and I was left with a couple of weeks to consider my alternatives about what to do with the moldy apartment for which although I didn’t even have a key, was still paying the rent. This time the landlord had really gone too far, and would surely lose any court case about it, so I decided to leave things as they were until I returned on the 8th of October, and just had a member of staff contact a local Chinese lawyer to investigate my options.