Aaron in Azerbaijan

Just another blog about Azerbaijan.

Landlord Invasion

with 8 comments

This week was a one of learning about the perspectives of landlords (mülkədar) in Azerbaijan.  Early in the week, Eli and Mason’s landlord showed up, unannounced, to stay in the house for a few days (along with his brother).  In the middle of the week, I had a faucet burst in my bathroom that created a mini flood in my apartment, leaking water through the ceiling of my downstairs-neighbors and requiring a call to my own landlord.  It’s been quite a week.

One of the nice features of living in America is that when you rent an apartment or house, it’s fairly well understood that the renter has the power.  Essentially, the renter ‘owns’ the home, decides who comes in and out the door, and is in charge of arrangements, cleaning, and whatever else.  The landlord comes in when something needs fixing or there is some other problem.  Now adjust your settings for Azerbaijan.

The main lesson here is that, in Azerbaijan, even though you are the renter and you are paying to be the person living in the home, the landlord/homeowner still “owns” the home.  A renter in America would expect to be notified in advance if the landlord was coming by.  No such thing exists here.  Eli’s landlord showed up without any notice.  A renter in America would also expect to be left alone.  That’s not the case here, either:  Eli’s landlord and his brother arrived and assumed that they would stay at the house.  They lived in the house for 3-4 nights without making any appeals to common courtesy.  Luckily, my landlord actually lives in Lənkəran, so he has a house to live in here with his family (Eli’s landlord lives in Baku).

This last part, however, is probably the most irksome.  In both cases of these landlord visits, both Eli and I were gently scolded about maintaining a clean home.  My landlord barely even looked at the rotten faucet.  Instead, he was focused on some dust that had settled near the window.  And about the cleaning of the top of the stove.  And the dustiness of the balcony (seriously: Azerbaijan is a dusty place.  The balcony will be dusty no matter what you do).  This was all conveyed in a sort of negative fathering role, condescending tone and all, like I’m 10 years old.  Though my mother may disagree, I can keep my apartment at least reasonably clean (though, we all have our days).  And everything was put into a context of “I’m just saying this to help you out; you know, for you!”  My landlord is a great guy, easy to work with and a great personality; yet, this was not welcome.  Incredibly, Eli and Mason suffered the exact same fate.  And their place is cleaner than mine.  But not only did they get that bit, but they were also informed that their tea supply wasn’t good; Eli shouldn’t wear his hat inside the house (he’ll go bald!); and, Mason can’t drink coffee in the morning.  This among other ridiculous decrees made by the landlord and his brother.

To be sure, I know this sounds like quite a bit of complaining and a pretty negative slant.  The reality, though, is that when you come from a renting culture in America, this is a fairly negative experience.  And there really isn’t much that is more unsettling than having someone come into your living space, your comfortable space, and rile things up.  I can get over it, but I’ve also talked with some other Azeris about it.  My discussions with colleagues at work say that in Azerbaijan, this is how all landlords will act, and they don’t like it at all, either.  While renters in other countries (these colleagues have also lived in Liberia and Tanzania) essentially ‘own’ their home, and the owner has to ask for permission to come to the home, in Azerbaijan it is the opposite.  The Azerbaijani landlord still owns the whole thing, and is entitled to it.  In addition to this, my colleagues say that even if we had the cleanest homes on the block, the landlord would still find fault, making recommendations like “you should have your computer there, instead” or other such silliness.

So Eli and Mason and I have now made it through this week of landlord assaults on our living quarters.  Eli and Mason’s situation is maybe a little better because the landlord lives in Baku.  For me, hopefully the landlord doesn’t make his presence in my apartment a regular occurrence.


Written by Aaron

April 3, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

8 Responses

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  1. Can I also mention how they smoked in the house the entire time so that the blankets I now sleep in smell like a chayxanna? We also had the pleasure of doing their dirty dishes every day.


    April 3, 2011 at 6:44 pm

  2. Never heard of such thing oO


    April 4, 2011 at 6:39 am

  3. OMG. Your landlord doesn’t like your tea supply? Will he bring you better tea? Is this an ownership thing, i.e. my house, my arm, my car, my tenants.

    Margaret aka Peggy

    April 4, 2011 at 12:28 pm

  4. Can you imagine your landlord living across the street with her own set of keys? Because I can. She yelled at us for not having the OUTSIDE of the window clean in the middle of the winter.

    Bummer on the leaky faucet.


    April 4, 2011 at 3:35 pm

  5. Have had the same thing happen a few times in Yerevan too. Last time I ended up screaming down the phone at the nephew of the landlords (who live in Holland now) telling him, no, he has no reason to call and say he’s going to be there in 5 minutes. Next time ring and ask if you can come with a day’s notice preferred. Never rang back… 🙂

    Anyways, it’s a Soviet thing, I think. That and the general societal inability to respect the privacy and personal space of others.

    Onnik Krikorian

    April 11, 2011 at 7:20 am

    • Ouch–I’m hoping I don’t get to the point of yelling. Although, if it works…


      April 16, 2011 at 7:35 pm

  6. I am going through a situation with my previous landlord and don’t wish it upon anyone. The ‘combi’ (boiler) broke during last winter. landlord had it fixed. two months later, broke again, fixed again. this time, the fix was to reduce water pressure so now no hot water. My guy from work (who arranged the lease) says lease is ending and need to be renewed but the landlord is increasing the rent by 45%. I said he can stick it where the sun don’t shine and moved out 2 days before lease ended.

    Oh, I forgot to tell you, the landlord has a passion for entering my apartment whenever I was out! He would go through my drawers, my clothes, look at my camera, etc. Last Christmas, I brought my family over from the states and he though the apartment was empty because I obviously was at work, he entered the apartment and scared my wife as she was in the shower. No apologies, just, “keep it clean” he says. WTF Moron! Landlords in the states would never do this because they wouldn’t live another day to talk about it…

    So, I told my guy at work to not renew the lease and gave back the keys. I had the apartment professionally cleaned and left it in a state far more superior than how I received it!

    First week out of apartment, old landlord says I owe him money for telephone bill, 300 manats. I had my guy call the company and realized the bill was only 75 manats. paid it.

    second week out of apartment, landlord now says I owe him 250 manats for the cost of fixing the broken combi (which is still broken). refused to pay for that.

    30 days out of apartment, landlord complains to my company I now owe him 2050 manats because I have physically destroyed his combi (boiler). Mind you, a high quality boiler cost about 800 manats.

    So I get into an argument with my guy at work because he says it is an insult to ignore the demands of a landlord and he has paid off my debt out of his own pocket and now demands I reimburse him. How F. retarded. Who does SH$t like this? This guys says he dished out almost $2500 USD because he did me a favor of which I didn’t ask for. MORON! He picked the worn Red Neck to mess with because I am not contributing to the idiocy of landlordism.

    Now my ex landlord is complaining to my CEO that I left the apartment without giving him notice. Seriously? I didn’t break the lease, I left at the end of the lease (I paid for that last month too). Now he complains I should have found him another tenant because now I have left him in a situation after I fulfilled my lease. MORON!

    Extortion by the landlord support by the employer….

    Bubba Gump Red Blooded Republican

    April 21, 2014 at 5:16 pm

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