In preparation for my trip to Japan and New York this summer I am in the process of cancelling my apartment. This is a task that has caused me massive amounts of stress and worry, because it hasn't gone at all according to plan. I did succeed, finally, in cancelling my contract, so now I can be a bit more detailed about what happened.
My rental contract very simply states that I have a break clause at six months and at twelve months, and that I can't cancel my apartment at any other time. At the time of signing I was under the impression that I could cancel my contract at any given time after the sixth month, with a reasonable notice period of course. My main reason for believing this is that my estate agent literally told me exactly this. That, of course, is irrelevant if the contract states otherwise, no matter what she has told me verbally.
So last weekend I started my endeavour of somehow terminating my contract early without paying massive amounts of money. I'll be gone for nearly two months so it's definitely worth cancelling early. Now, this is not the first time my estate agent, let's refer to her as A, has lied to me before. In fact, she has lied to me on three separate occassions and tried to embezzle the truth when I confronted her with it. I was already extremely cautious of her so I know it was not going to be an easy task. On Saturday I walked into her office but she was not there. Only her husband was there, who told me that cancelling my contract was no problem at all and that I should come back on Monday cause they were closing for the day and A was not there.
I went back on Tuesday because I was busy with work on Monday, and found A there waiting for me with my contract at the ready. She confronted me with the rule stating that I could only cancel at the 6th month and not in-between. Not much to argue there as I was stupid enough to sign it. Then she said that cancelling my contract would fall under another clause, meaning I would have to pay advertising costs, a percentage of the remaining rent and, if the apartment cannot be rented out during the period of my contract, the full amount of rent for the duration that the apartment does not have a tenant.
So far everything is straightforward. That's the terms of the contract, that's what I signed. I told A that I was worried about if she could not rent out the apartment in time, meaning I would have to pay shitloads of money to her for the rent while I was not even there. A assured me that I did not have to worry about that and that there are plenty of people wanting to rent it, and it would be gone immediately. She then showed me 'proof' in the form of other similar apartments that potential tenants have visited with her, which means absolutely nothing to me. A wanted to get rid of me quickly by getting me to give her written notice of my cancellation, after which she had free reign over what to do with my rent for the remaining months, regardless of whether she would find a new tenant or not.
Naturally I disagreed. I asked her, since it was apparently so easy to find a new tenant, if I could get a written note saying that I wouldn't have to pay the rent for the remaining months if I cancelled. That somehow launched A into another bullshit reassurance talk that lasted ages while I completely zoned out. I re-asked the question and out came yet another bullshit story about how it would be no problem to find a new tenant. I realized that getting emotional with her doesn't get me anything but more bullshit stories so I just told her that I wouldn't be able to cancel my apartment unless she can formally confirm that I don't have to pay rent for the remaining months.
It is at this point that she suddenly starts to mention an upcoming holiday of hers, as it happens just around the time of my cancellation. It makes me wonder if I had just given her the cancellation notice already, she probably would have just charged me for the remaining rent anyway, claiming she was on holiday. Realizing that I didn't budge on that she told me about this and tried to get me to cancel in early June. At this point I was getting really pissed off at her wasting my time, but I remained calm and told her I couldn't move out that early because I have a job here and wouldn't have enough time to move out. Duh.
At this point A's husband, who had been there before, had quietly disappeared somewhere, presumably to give A the excuse that she was about to make, which was that I should come back tomorrow because she needed to talk things over with her husband. The good cop/bad cop approach. I came back the next morning and essentially the exact same thing occurred again, except that I cut her bullshit stories short. I realized that she was not willing to concede anything. I told her that if she could find a tenant to move in in the beginning of June, I would gladly sign the cancellation notice, otherwise no deal. She intentionally tried to twist these words in her favour several times, which I had to patiently correct back to my initial statements. A is not stupid, she is just viciously evil.
Finally, as I was just about to leave, A proposed that I move out two weeks earlier, because that way she would have time to find a new tenant before her holiday. I agreed to this, with the condition that she sign a statement saying that she will not charge me additional rent for the period after my cancellation. She agreed too, and the next morning we signed the document.
There has never been a person in my life who manages to frustrate me so much as this estate agent. The levels we talk at just seem to be entirely different. I need to evaluate every single word she says to make sure there is no evil intent that could backfire on me. Once I started actually parsing the stuff she said I realized that 90% of what she said is complete and utter bullshit that can be immediately forgotten. 9% is random factual statements that have a negative effect to me if I acknowledge them, 1% is actual information that is relevant to my case. About 0.9% of that last 1% is just stuff that I knew already or that she said before.
Given the things she promised in the past and has not come through with, I tend to be extremely pissed off towards her. It started already when I first looked at the apartment. I asked A if there was internet available in the apartment, and she said yes. Since that's perhaps not the usual case, I confirmed with her again by asking "So on the day that I move in, I will be able to use the internet immediately?". She answered yes again. I confirmed this with her several times over the course of signing the contract, so naturally I was enormously pissed at her when on the day of moving in there was no internet. She then took back her words, stating that the apartment "has the possibility of having internet". Well, FUCKING DUH. The whole of London has the fucking possibility of being connected to the internet. Thank you so much for lying to me.
Since I'm venting now anyway, here's some more examples. She said she'd deliver the rental contract to me the day after I signed it. It took several months and countless visits to her office to get her to copy the damn contract. Would have taken her five minutes of her time but she just couldn't be bothered. And that mould never did get removed from the bedroom corner behind the cupboard. Also, great job at giving out misinformation about the nearby parking spaces, which are in fact only free in the weekends and after 4pm. Another little thing she failed to mention when telling me that there were parking spaces available.
So yes, dealing with her tends to get me worked up a bit. I've never in my life been as blatantly lied to as much as I have by this woman. But the only way to get rid of her is not by being emotional: it's by being rational. There's no path to victory here, the only thing I can do is cut my losses and run. Getting angry at her will only increase the amount of time that I have to deal with her. So I stayed calm and talked to her logically and slowly. And I got my cancellation.
I have to pay extra money to her because the contract states so, and I have to move out two weeks early and find temporary accommodation in London. But all that is a small price to pay, for I no longer have to deal with that lying deceitful woman ever again.