How I asserted my rights as a tenant in Taipei

This is the scary state in which my old gas cooker was in, before finally being replaced after months of arguing with the landlord’s representative.

I’m very aware of the fact that in Taiwan I can’t expect Western standards in many areas. Considering the bureaucratic overregulation on the Old Continent, that’s often a blessing.

The European Union has become the successor of the Soviet Union and, despite all of its empty talk about freedom, human rights and democracy, restricts personal choices more and more, poking its nose into almost everything, including the property market.

The fact that tenants have more rights in Germany, where I was born, or in Spain, where I’m renting out the apartment that my father left me, than in Taiwan, where I’m a renter myself, might sound great at first sight.

Yet it can become a nightmare when you have to deal with squatters, which are a widespread problem. However, proprietors aren’t allowed to switch off gas, water and electricity, even if the rent hasn’t been paid in months. THAT is illegal!

Understandably, many Taiwanese find this hard to believe, though their positive image of the both woke and decadent Western world nowadays has little to do with an often very sad reality.

That’s also because in Taiwan relevant legal regulations usually favour landlords over those who lease property from them, resulting in bizarre situations like the refusal to fix an air conditioner in the middle of the extreme summer heat, as one day that house will be torn down anyway…

In my case, I had to argue for months with the uninterested female real estate agent representing the owner about my rusty gas cooker, which definitely had fulfilled its earthly duties a long time ago.

She actually admitted that, though the stingy gentleman who owns the apartment where I have been living for the last fifteen months said that while the equipment was still working there was no need to replace it.

As both kept ignoring safety concerns and common sense completely, I went to talk to the Great Taipei Gas Corporation, the Taipei City Fire Department and the governmental Consumer Protection Committee.

The first two were unable to help and the third institution informed me that I would have to file a written complain and that they would act as mediators in the case. For various reasons I didn’t follow their advice.

When about a week ago the stove really started to malfunction and I notified the agency, the same game of denial started again. That lady even suggested that I changed a nonexistent battery, which really outraged me.

Nevertheless, after I sent her a short video from the kitchen proving that her spontaneous proposal was total nonsense and a short consultation with the abovementioned miser, she quickly agreed to the replacement.

As often while dealing with Chinese, suddenly long-delayed issues couldn’t go fast enough. She called me twice while I was taking a nap with my phone switched off.

While I was typing a message for her after waking up, I received a phone call from an unknown plumber who wanted to make an appointment with me just two days later.

At the end, that’s how it went. Since Monday afternoon I have been able to use a brand-new cooking device, which not only fills me with great joy, but makes my work at the traditional market easier and more efficient. Patience is indeed a virtue!