When I say I haven’t decided what I want to do yet this does not mean that I don’t know where I want to live or be in 2016. I said I was tired not stupid. Of course I want to live here, in Ibiza. What’s not to love about living in Jesus? . Like every savvy Ibiza resident knows, at certain times of the year, island rentals are a feeding frenzy so the A1 golden rule is to secure your accomodation in advance preferably long before the summer silly season kicks in (before the end of March). Get your luvverly accomodation for the next year confirmed, signed and sealed before the end of the preceding season and you’re laughing. The lucky few who bag a beautiful bargain (without paying a six month deposit upfront) in the Holy Grail transfer window between the middle and the end of October are viewed with emerald eyed envy. The struggle is real here. Most long lets get snapped up like a gushing, mutilated leg in a shark pool and generally before the ink is dry on the ‘Anuncio’ page in Diario D’Ibiza. Those who are on a tight(er) budget find a ton of roomies (generally up the West End) and split the cost handsomely. 256 different ways to do the washing up or to go Dutch, French, English, Spanish, Italian or all of the above. All of them present and correct.
Me? I have this on lock. I met my English eccentric ever-so-slightly alcoholic landlady for a tapas lunch at a deserted La Vineria, on the Carrer Cap Martinet at the end of June when we agreed the terms for my contract and keys to Castle Grayskull.
My landlady greeted me looking angelic in a white, gypsy dress, heavy boots and her blonde hair worn up in that tousled, elder stateswoman way. She was demolishing her second large glass of wine as I sat down. As she ordered her third, she said ‘let’s get this out of the way, then we can eat’. I had been dreading this chat so was surprised when she offered me a contract to keep the apartment for another year. Golden ticket? Tick it! She said that she really likes me and wanted to help. Tick that too. Could I accept different terms? Rental seasons being what they are and her being a lady of leisure with no regular source of income, I knew I was looking at a serious price hoik. Brace yourself…
She was nervous about giving me another contract. There is a loophole in Tenants’ Rights legislation here that keeps a tenant in place for up to five years if a contract is renewed long term to the same tenant beyond the first year. Since she is trying to sell the apartment, this loophole is a worry for her. In order to combat this, the rent was being raised to a constant winter fee of 1200pcm, rising 200€ to 1400pcm from May to October. Vertically steep for one person. In fact it was 400 euros pm more expensive than the rent I had been paying on my flat in Paris when I left in 2013. That’s Paris. A metropole. With a strong transport infrastructure, museums, shops and everything. If I overstayed the contract end date she threatened me with murdering me in my bed. Normal. I laughed like I was the only person in the audience at a bad Comedy Store gig.
I have a good – and relatively long memory. Logic and reason tell me not to fuck with mad alcoholics. I remembered the house call last year. She had popped round to see ‘how I was settling in’ but really came to calm down in her own apartment after having made an unwarranted house call to ‘that Jonathan’. He wasn’t home but she threatened his girlfriend with a kitchen knife with a four inch blade just to make sure (she took this out of her pocket demonstrate). I’d only been in the flat two weeks. She told me that Jonathan was the previous tenant who had left her apartment in tatters with denuncios flowing like ticker tape (the neighbours say he was running Girls from his private parties. I had wondered what the chains in the wardrobe were for). Anyway, he had left owing three months’ rent which she was determined to recoup. That she would go to such lengths just to get the rent arrears did not sit well with me. We Capricorns can take life and living just a bit too seriously I suppose.
The apartment is not Ibiza Town prime real estate but it is in a respectable, developing location. Turn a blind eye to its basic, ok cheap furnishings and you know it is worth a bit. It has plenty of space for my dj equipment slash studio, has a guest bedroom for family or friends, is bright, airy and modern and rent-wise was not breaking the bank for a three bed in Talamanca. Even though the heating falls short when Ibiza drops the ‘pissed-wet-through to the clothes in your wardrobe and sheets on your bed’ humid fog and the boiler needs resetting every time the wind blows (which is a lot in Talamanca), it is big, airy, bright, modern, warm and dry and has a lift, a roof terrace with a 360° view and garage space. I could get comfortable here.
Like christmas toy batteries, bills were no longer to be included. The disappointment was Christmas present same.There was to be no sub-letting. Not that this was something I had ever done, but it would have been nice to have the option. This is the key income source that all of my friends exploit to pay their rent through the fallow winter months. Odds stacked up, condition by condition, what was once a decent deal was starting to stack higher against. Still, I loved the apartment; looked after it like a boss and was a model tenant. I assured her that the next year would be equally trouble free. I always pay my rent on time – how could it not be?
Freak of the week. CL massaged my feet to clinch the deal. WTF? Boundaries???! This foot massage is over-familiar territory even for family. Understand that it’s not easy to run when someone has your feet clamped in a vice-like grip before you’ve touched your tiramisu. Best to relax. Let it happen. The ‘Welcome to your new home again’ speech that followed this random activity was thus music to my ears. CL promised me that once her family visits and daughter’s university choice were out of the way we would visit her Gestor to sign the contract. The date was set for the end of September. Reassured, I chose to ignore her sniffing her hands when she’d finished.
Call me crazy for trusting CL and her fancy foot massage. I fully accept and assume responsibility for the incoming fuck up. So confident was I that we had made a solid verbal agreement that I took my eye off the ball. I forgot that something about this island – maybe the Es Vedra ley lines, maybe the population of gypsies, tramps, brigands, pirates and thieves – makes a mockery of written agreemements. And, schoolgirl error #2, I forgot that spoken arrangements count for nothing, especially where money is concerned. Everyone prefers to be paid in the tax and question-free black so there are no guarantees here. Nothing is ever as sorted as you expect. Not even your drugs. What I’m trying to say is that it’s easy to make a legitimate tenant disappear overnight. Without a contract you have no rights, your landlord (or landlush) can ask you to leave or throw you out as and when they want and with no notice served.
One week into October and I am all out of excuses. No phone calls or IMs are being made or answered and we haven’t signed any official papers.
… to be continued