Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lord of the Slums

The hardest thing about living in Ghana is paying rent. You see, in the rest of the world and most of Africa, people pay rent monthly. However, in money hungry corrupt Ghana, renting means that you are probably paying at least $5,000 up front for your rent. Note: You can pay less, but there are certain necessities I must have...such as water.

You see somewhere in its road to a developing country, landlords became used to the practice of tenants paying rent one-two years up front; some are even willing pay four or five years up front. Yes, it is crazy I know, but with a supposed housing shortage in Accra, a landlord is truly king. So now not only do you have to come up with a crap load of money at one time, but you then have to deal with slum lords.

Now those who know me, know I have never had good landlord luck. A large part of this is because I have a tendency to rent from local people versus those who live abroad, and although I am one of the few people who pay rent in cedis and live in a great place, local landlords are often similar to slum lords.

When you are a foreigner and rent from a local landlord they are really under the impression you should use your money to fix up their place <insert blank stare> And, well, we know that just doesn't make sense for the tenant, especially when you know the landlord will undoubtedly raise rent to an astronomical price in order to get more money and a new foreign tenanant thus leaving you and your investment in the cold.

However, being a veteran of the scene I recognize this and always keep my cool. So when it came time to renegotiate my rent I knew I held the trump card because I had done absolutely nothing to the house. In fact, due to a water issue when I first moved in, the house exterior was actually slightly worse than when I arrived.

So when the negotiations began. I insisted that he keep the rent the same so that I could take the other monies and make improvements on the house and support him in his efforts of painting the house. He quickly declined, suggesting that the improvements I wanted to make were for my benefit and not his. So understanding how the system goes and understanding his lack of business sense I just agreed to pay what he asked, after all he only went up GHS 50, which is equivalent to $25, and I felt it wasn't worth the argument. After all, I am perfectly fine leaving the house, as is, for the rest of my term.

That's why when he showed up on my porch discussing his upcoming painting and concrete work in the house, I was surprised that he thought I was just going to give him GHS 1,000 of my money...absolutely for free. Now rewind, and this was the same man who told me he wouldn't keep the rent the same because the improvements I wanted to make where for my benefit. Also, why would I just give you GHS 1,000 of my money when I have to pay you almost GHS 10,000 in three months? Have you lost your cotton-picking mind?

Fortunately, for me, my patience in Ghana has grown so I simply smiled and told him I wouldn't give him GHS 1,000 unless it was applied to my rent. Because after all, painting the house really is for his benefit and not mine.  But in my mind, I admit, I did yell, "Get yo life right."

As luck would have it though, he had to quickly rush away to the house next door where the man had moved out....and apparently stripped the entire house clean. Looks like the neighbor wasn't in support of his efforts either, but hey that is life.

And now, my friends, you see why buying land was a neccessity and not a luxury. *le sigh*

Until The Next Time Smooches.