Chapter 11: Collecting Rent (Part 1)
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The next morning, Chen Jin didn’t explore the other world. Instead, he drove his father’s 500,000 dollar Passat to Downtown 3rd Ring Road, where the Lotus Residential Quarter was. All the other four apartments that Chen Jin’s family owned were in this luxurious residential quarter.
His family owned a total of six apartments, two of which (massive 3-bed, 2-bath apartments that were about 6000 sq ft) were in the Xingfu Tianyuan Residential Quarter outside of 5th Ring Road in Shanghai, which they were currently living in.
The apartment upstairs, 401, was where his parents lived. The one downstairs, 320, was for Chen Jin and his future wife, but since he was done putting up with his father’s nagging, and wanted some privacy, he moved into the apartment anyway after graduation. That apartment belonged to him and to him only.
As for the four apartments in the Lotus Residential Quarter, they were all rented out. It was Sunday, August 18th (Earth time) that day, when the tenants were expected to pay rent. But it was actually the 15th of each month that Chen Jin should be collecting rent. He only went on Sunday the 18th because he knew the tenants would be home and not at work that day.
His main purpose, however, was not to collect the rent, as everyone would simply transfer the money to his Alipay account. He went because he needed to inspect the apartments once a month to make sure they were in good shape. Of course, while he was there, he would also remind the tenants to pay up if they somehow forgot. If by any chance a tenant wanted to surrender a tenancy, he would handle it as well, and post a new ad on the internet about the vacancy and allow inspections for the people that were interested. In short, his mother put him in charge of all four apartments in this residential quarter. In return, he would get half of the rent he collected, which was his primary income.
So, in a way, he was not exactly a “NEET”. He was, after all, working.
Lotus Residential Quarter.
The four units that his family owned were all in building 6, which held units 801, 802, 901, and 902, all of which were also huge 5000 sq ft, 3-bed, 2-bath apartments. According to the real estate market, rent for enormous, luxuriously furnished apartments like these usually would land between 1,000-1,500 dollars, even 2,000 dollars per month.
But Chen Jin’s family hadn’t raised the price for their apartments. It was still the same as last year – 880 dollars. He knew the price was much lower than the market price, and had thought about raising it, but his mother told him to wait till the end of the year, as she understood it was hard earning money and having to pay rent at the same time. Chen Jin had been there before, and remembered what scraping by was like. He knew it was not easy for his tenants, so he tried not to cause them any trouble.
After entering the room, he immediately frowned at what he saw, even pinched his nose. He picked up his phone… “Hello? Home cleaning services? This is unit 801, building 6 at Lotus Residential Quarter. Please send two of your cleaners here as soon as possible.”
Inside, the smell of rotten fruit wafted out from every room. There were snack wrappers on the floor, take-out leftovers splattered all over the place, and all sorts of trash floating around the apartment. In the corner, there were two trash cans that had some bowls with Master Kong’s instant noodles leftovers that gave the apartment a strong, disgusting smell. The tiled floor had countless stains. It was impossible for anyone to walk on it barefoot. On the couches in both living rooms in the apartment lay six shirtless men that he had never seen before. Their sleeping positions were awfully odd, and some of the men were snoring like a droning machine. On the glass table in the center of the room, there were a few laptops, lots of disposable bamboo skewers, and a large amount of empty beer bottles. And, of course, cords and phone cables were everywhere…
When Chen Jin came to inspect the unit last month, there were only three men lying on the couch. Upset by what he was seeing, Chen Jin pulled away the tenant that opened the door for him, Lee Kai, and said, “Lee Kai, didn’t you tell me last month that these guys would be gone soon? Now, not only did they not leave, but there are more of them!”
“Sir, I…” Not knowing what to tell him, Lee Kai seemed a little embarrassed. “They are all my brothers looking for work in the city. They will move out as soon as they find a job.”
“I don’t care if they can find a job or not. I don’t want to see them here next month. Also…” Chen Jin said in a deep voice, knowing this would be hard for his tenant. “The rent for next month will be 1,000 dollars. Tell the others.”
“WHAT?!” Lee Kai was in shock. The news had distressed him. “1,000 dollars? What’s up with the increase?”
Chen Jin tried really hard to control his anger. “The average price for properties within the 3rd Ring Road area in Shanghai is 1,500 dollars. This apartment cost us at least 1,000 dollars. And you are paying 880 dollars a month trashing it every day. If you think it’s too expensive for you, move out, be my guest. Find somewhere cheaper.” With a stony look on his face, Chen Jin pointed at the door. Being a landlord for the past two years, it wasn’t the rent that he really cared about. It was the apartment itself – if it was in good shape, clean, or if there was any furniture that was broken or out of order. These kind of things were, in fact, much more important than anything else. After all, it was a high-class apartment, and no one would want to see it being turned into a dump.
Lee Kai kept his head down, looking disturbed and anxious. “Got it. I will let them know.” The rent in the city had been increasing like crazy lately. It had at least gone up 20-30%. People had been saying how capitalism was trying to drain the money out of the young generation. Lee Kai believed it to be true, since all his friends in the apartment were there due to the unaffordable rent from their previous landlords. And now, it had happened to him too. There was no escaping the rising rent.
For sure, Lee Kai knew it was the filthy apartment they created that made Chen Jin decide to increase the rent then and there. Lee Kai had reminded his friends many times to clean up after themselves and to keep the place tidy. But all they did after work was play video games and produce more junk. No one cared. No one listened. And now there he was. Being dragged down by his toxic friends. “You guys will have to cover the extra cost,” Lee Kai said in a sad, low voice.
Unit 802 was occupied by a family of six. No need to inspect.
In unit 901 lived three couples, two of which were married, and they were all very tidy people. It was not necessary to check on them every month. Chen Jin went last month, so he decided not to go that day.
In unit 902, all the tenants were females and most of them were single. This apartment used to be really dirty, too. (You’d think girls are hygienic. No. They are gross). Chen Jin had to call cleaning services twice a month for this one.
However, ever since Guo Yan, a very tidy tenant, moved in earlier this year, she would help clean the common area every once in a while. Guo Yan had seen Chen Jin call for home cleaning services a few times, so she asked him if she could do the cleaning job, and in return, deduct 50 dollars from her rent.
It cost Chen Jin 30 dollars for each cleaning service. That would be 60 dollars a month. If he let Guo Yan do the job, he could save 10 dollars.
“Sir, feel free to come and check on the apartment. I’m good at cleaning and can do a much better job than the people from home cleaning services,” Guo Yan promised. Indeed. He had checked on it once. It was exceptional. Sparkly clean.
Chen Jin told her in private, “No problem. You can deduct 50 dollars from your rent. But I hope the apartment stays this way.”
“You got it, boss! I promise I will do a thorough cleanup every week.” Guo Yan tucked her hair behind her ear, holding a mop in her hand. The sweat on her forehead had wet her bangs. She gave him a bright smile. She had a shared bedroom, which was 150 dollars per month. Now that she got a 50 dollar discount, she only had to pay 100 dollars. It was an excellent deal in a big city like Shanghai.
Chen Jin got a little distracted by this hardworking, sweet girl in front of him. He reminded her, “Don’t say anything to the other girls. I don’t want any trouble.”
Guo Yan assured him she wouldn’t.
The real reason why he was there in unit 902 was not to inspect the apartment, but to get one of the tenants to pay up. The bedroom on the west side of the unit was occupied by this girl, Song Xue Jia, who hadn’t paid her rent for three months. She had an excuse every time.
But not this time.