Who are Conor O'Brien and James McMahon?

Conor O’Brien of the Raglan Clinic and James McMahon of Hassett are the people that own me €1250, the deposit of the apartment I rented for more than a year in 4, Windermere, Gilford Road, Dublin 4, Ireland. That I returned in perfect condition and was accepted as such, more than a month ago.

Now that we got to the point, let me tell you the story. I’ll try not to sidetrack with issues like Conor arriving more than outrageously late when I had to handover the apartment and had very little time (moving to Zürich, where I live now) or that James published the apartment as having dishwasher and cable TV which it didn’t (nor was there hot water as well, or fire alarm, or the two set of keys, etc). Ooops, sidetracked. Or that when I went there with James and my wife to see the apartment, there was a guy taking a shower, in the apartment, that shouted “don’t come” and we had to return the day after. Ooops, sidetracked again.

I hired a professional cleaning company to do the final cleaning of the apartment, very Zürich-style, even though it is not required in Dublin. I also bought replacement glasses and cutlery even though the sets were not complete from the start. The hot water wasn’t working and the heater on the bathroom blew up shortly after I’ve got it, but those were somehow paid by Conor, arranged by a secretary he had that I am really grateful to because she was a pleasure to deal with.

Conor came, checked out the apartment and asked “What are you going to do with the keys?”, it seems the proper answer would have been “I’m going to leave them with a friend until you give me back my deposit.” But I don’t like a world that works that way, and I trusted he was going to do what’s right. “Here are the keys, you can have them now.”

I asked about my deposit and he said the agent (that’s James, of the agency Hassett) has it and that I should send him an email the day after with my bank account details so that he will instruct James to send me my money back. I sent him the email, and I’ve got no reply. The next day I’ve sent Conor and James another email and no reply. I waited another day, and another day. Another email and no reply. I called. Conor was nowhere to be seen, or called. James said “I don’t have the money, he has it.” And he told me he was going to call him to figure it out. One of these two guys, maybe the Lexus-driving Conor or the BMW-driving James, is so rich, that he can loose track of €1250 (that was sarcastic in case you missed).

I kept emailing and calling. Eventually I’ve got to Conor’s secretary, a new one, the third one in a year, that didn’t know anything about the issue nor where Conor were or when he was going to be back. James kept telling me the same. The secretary told me not to worry, that she would find out what’s going on and call me. I’ve never got the call. One day I get to Conor and I explained that I’m very pissed that three weeks have passed and I don’t have my deposit. He hung up on me, after saying he will pay me next week.

I called James and he explains me that Conor is still on vacation and he cannot reach him, that when he’s back he’s going to get this sorted out and a part of my deposit is going to be sent back. “What do you mean a part?” “Conor informed me that he’ll keep a part to fix what’s broken?” he said. “What? Nothing was broke, he accepted the apartment three weeks ago.” Then James go on to explain that if I want, he can check the apartment himself. Right, like if he was going to be objective about it. But there’s something very worrying here. If James couldn’t communicate with Conor, how come he knows Conor find something wrong in the apartment; and if Conor found something wrong in the apartment, why didn’t he said so, when I reached him at his cell phone a couple of days ago, instead of “I’ll pay you next week”? I smell something fishy.

Next day Conor suddenly found something wrong in the apartment and informed me that an expert has been sent to asset the damage and will send me the rest of the money. That was more than two weeks ago, I’ve got no information or money since then, and somehow it seems I am not going to get it. I think they are taking advantage that I moved to another country and I don’t have anything to press them on giving me my money. The least I can do is spread the information about what happened, so if someone else has to deal with these people, they know about it. This post in my blog available to everyone on Internet is my way of spreading the information.

James McMahon (jimmy at hassett dot ie) is an agent for Hassett Estate Agents (http://hassett.ie), who promptly ignored all my calls and messages about all the stuff that was wrong in the apartment, who published it with dishwasher and when I asked where it was he said “There’s none, I’m sorry” and for whom Cable TV is a wire, and nothing more than a dead wire, hanging out of the wall. If you are going to rent from him, have that in mind, and shape your expectations accordingly.

Conor O’Brien (drcob at iol dot ie) is a medical doctor (I’d never put my health in his hands) working at the Raglan Clinic (4 Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin 2, Ireland, +353-1-6612180), driving a Lexus, who is refusing to give me back my money.

Now, let’s finish this post with a happy story. About two years ago I was living in Berlin. I’ve rented an apartment for 6 months. We decided we liked the apartment while visiting it with the owner, a very nice lady. We told her we wanted it. She was delighted. She said “Here’s the contract” and gave me two small sheets of paper, “and I need you to sign this for the insurance” and gave me another small page. I shouldn’t have signed a contract I couldn’t read, it was obviously in German, but I was really desperate to get a roof and I signed it. The woman seemed very nice. I told her I could give her the rent and deposit the next day or later that day. “It’s ok, no problem, here have the keys” she said. That’s it? really? Sandra and I went back to the hotel and didn’t sleep at our new home that night. It was so easy we were suspicious.

Five days after paying my third rent I had to leave Berlin in a hurry because of a family emergency. Not knowing when or whether I was going to go back, and indeed I haven’t set foot in Berlin since then, I informed the lady about it and I was about to explain how we were going to leave a lot of home appliances and stuff, even lots of food, we couldn’t take with us. I was about to beg for the deposit. She didn’t let me finish. She said: “Don’t worry, you’ll get the part of the rent according to the day you are leaving.”

It took me a while to understand what she was saying, she was going to split the rent I already paid proportionally to the day I was leaving and give me back the rest. I expressed my thanks but I was very worried it was a way for her to cleanly say “no” to my begging about the deposit, which was way more money. I mumbled something about the deposit and she said: “Of course you are going to get it back!” She didn’t have to give me anything at all, according to the contract everything was lost: she gave me everything. They checked the apartment two days before we left and gave me back everything except €200, which they retained in case we broke something during those two days. A week after we had that money in Buenos Aires. That money was life saving and I’m forever grateful to that woman. I wish the world had many more kind souls like hers.

Ok, two stories, but this one has an open ending. Renting in Zürich is hard, very hard. But I’ve got an apartment. It’s incredible how oiled the process is afterwards. No hard dealings like in Dublin where I had to negotiate even to return the keys. Here the contract specifies the day when you get the apartment. Well not only the day, but also the hour. Always at 11:00hs. Also the day and hour when you have to return it. They are rented well in advance so you can plan your move. They gave me a specific date and time when they are going to give me the keys like three weeks in advanced. That date is marked in my calendar and I’m so eager for it to arrive! That day I have to show them that I paid my deposit. For that they opened a nameless bank account, only with a number and sent me, along with the contract, a paper where I put my name and signature to take over the account and a little sheet of paper to make the deposit to it. The deposit is already there, in a bank account, on my name, gathering interests on my behalf.

Paying the rent is very easy too. They sent me, also along with the contract, a little sheet paper where I could opt for direct debit. I filled in the details and that’s it. They take care of everything. If I scratch the wall they are going to charge me for repainting and it’ll be expensive and there will be no talking me out of it, but then I do not expect to have to talk them in giving me back my deposit. Everything is clear, even though it’s in German. I have hopes this won’t generate any hard dealings like renting in Dublin, only time will tell, the ending is open.

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