Saturday, December 16, 2006
This week the time seemed to fly. We planned to go to Napoli but the weather conspired against us. We didn't want to go on Monday because museums are closed and we still hadn't exactly figured out where to get the bus and what the schedule was anyway. Then it rained on and off for a few days. We thought we would go on Thursday, then possibly Friday, but it just didn’t work out. We had run into the landlady while we were out and about and she surprised us by telling us that from here on out we were to pay the rent directly to her. For the months of November and December we paid our agent who we felt was trying to keep us from meeting the owners for some reason.
I've told you about the landlords, that it took a while to finally meet them. Well, the situation got a bit more complicated this week when we talked with the chef in one of the local restaurants and found out that not only was our agent taking a piece of our rent, but the local guy with the keys was also. It's a small town - it seems everyone knows everyone else and everyone knows everything that goes on here. I guess we have given the locals a lot of stuff to talk about!
We have had a difficult time reaching our agent, who has claimed since we arrived that he was too ill to come here. When we started working with him, he lived in Salerno, very near to Vietri and promotes his business as being on the Amalfi Coast. He claimed to know the area quite well and said he had a good reputation here and therefore was able to get us the best rent possible. By the time we arrived, he had moved further down the Cilento Coast. As we had been having difficulty finding anything ourselves we felt this was the best solution, to use this agent who is British and spoke enough Italian to navigate this for us. The first place he found would have been a lovely apartment for sure, but it was so too far out in the countryside. We like being able to walk to the shops and coffee bars etc. This sent him back to the drawing board as it were to find us something else and the next one he found fell through and he had to work a little harder than he had anticipated finding us something.
We were getting pretty desperate by the middle of October when we still didn't have an apartment and considered just coming down here and staying in a hotel until we found something ourselves but he had our deposit money at this point and we weren't sure how all that would work. In hindsight, we probably would have had no difficulty but it surely would have been stressful and we just wanted to get here and move in!
Well, I guess word got around and back to our landlords the situation with these two characters wanting to keep taking a bite of our rent and they put the kabosh on it. We were totally surprised to learn that we were paying these two guys a commission every month when at the beginning our agent told us (and put it in his contract) that he only charged a one-time up-front fee for finding the apartment (not like the other agencies who would take a monthly commission, he said!) We probably should have realized something else was going on when we arrived and he told us he would be collecting the rent every month. When we wrote to him and told him we were unhappy with this situation, mostly upset that he had not been up front with us, we got a response that was less than acceptable. Ultimately, we have not heard from him since the request from our landlady to pay her directly, less, I might add, than we were paying to the "agents." We were very relieved to know that the owners had our deposit and the last month's rent so that is good.
We are still trying to get something from them that we can show to the police if the situation arises, with our legal address on it. They are reluctant to do this and we suspect no one knows they rent this apartment and it is all done “under the table” – something else we are frustrated with out agent about, since he knew we needed to get the Fabbricato when we arrived here and promised he would “sort it all out.” He hasn’t. Now we are asking if they will just give us a letter that says that we are their guests as least. We really only have 3 more months here, at the beginning of January, which in any case, is the amount of time an American can legally be in Italy without needing a Visa and we do still have our Permessi di Soggiorno. Not really how we had hoped to finish up here, as we have done everything according the laws of Italy and now we have been put in this situation because we worked with this guy, who let us down.
It really all just seems too bad. We are happy with the apartment he found, the location is what we wanted, it’s near the sea, an easy walk to shops etc, it’s on the Amalfi Coast but with easy access to other places as well. We had hoped to develop a friendly relationship with him, and looked forward to having some conversations in English and everything, but we don’t appreciate his handling of these other issues and do wish things had gone differently.
In any case, we are very glad finally to be working directly with our landlord who seems to be a very nice person, she and her husband are good friends with our upstairs neighbors and so far, with the exception of the paperwork, attentive to our needs and problems. She will give us a discount also, at her ceramics shop and I plan to take advantage of that before we leave here!
All is well. We bought the cutest, tiniest Christmas tree (about 3 ft tall!) in anticipation of my sister and her daughters coming for the holidays (5 euros at the supermercato for a little tree with lights and decorations to boot! Who could resist such a bargain??)
Rosemary e Robert