Posted by: Sam Olsen | January 13, 2013

Death of a Landlord

With another child on the way it’s time to move.

We have spent numerous weekends looking around at various properties across Hong Kong, but with no success. The categories of choice – larger, cheaper and with at least a sense of countryside in the neighbourhood – have been rather hard to fulfill.

Then one day our estate agent had some good news. Rita was categoric: “You will like this one for sure”.

The flat was indeed all we could ask for. Apart from looking like it had been decorated by a blind fan of The Seventies Show, it was spacious, with a large balcony and unobstructed views of the sea. The sitting room was 32 feet long, an absolutely unheard of figure for Hong Kong unless you have a few million (pounds, sadly) to spare.

And here lay the problem: it was too cheap, i.e. we could afford it. I pointed this out to Rita as she drove us home, and she was unsure as to why the price was so low: “Sometimes you get lucky”. That sounded good to us.

Yet everything started to unravel when we realised the landlord was in fact dead. Lawrence and I were dispatched by Aggie the next day, whilst she was at work, to have a final check of the place before submitting an offer.

We were met at the door by a woman straight out of Chinese Jerry Springer: high heels, short black shirt, a tight t-shirt asking someone to ‘Love Me’ and with enough make-up on her long, slender face to stock the Revlon warehouse for six years. In her arms was a small dog that looked like a mix between a chihuahua and badger, which was wearing what appeared to be a coat made to resemble a baseball jacket. It was a great combination.

I asked her if she was the landlady. She looked at me and grinned. Rita broke the silence and asked again, this time in Cantonese.  A flurry of conversation and a few raised eyebrows later, and Rita turned to me.

“She does not own the flat.”

“Well who does?”

“Someone who is no longer with us.”

In other words, he was delta echo alpha delta. He was pining for the fjords. He was an ex-landlord.

Back home, and having extricated ourselves from the presence of the walking mannequin, we did some thorough googling. Rather than this being a recent development, it turned out that the landlord – one of Hong Kong’s richest men, and a taxi tycoon to boot – had actually died a decade before. His estate has been in limbo since then, as his children, all sixteen of them, his wife and his three mistresses fought over the legacy. It turned out that one of the mistresses – she with the dog – had decided to go freelance and start renting out some of her erstwhile lover’s property, probably to pay the legal bills which after ten years must have been the equivalent of Peru’s gross domestic product.

This is one fight we don’t want to get involved in, especially if it means we have no legal right to be in the flat. So the search continues, but this time ensuring the landlord is actually alive and kicking first.



  1. It’s amazing how one of his mistresses just decided she could rent out the property! I wonder how she got the keys – or does everyone have set…?

    • Yes probably… all rather strange!

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