Rights of tenants
I am all too aware of the plight of the poor in Bangladesh but request some concern for the plight of those of us who are middle class and discovering that we seem to have no legal redress against the abuses of power of some Property Companies who are our landlords.
I moved into an apartment in Gulshan 2 last May, renting from a nice lady. I negotiated what I considered a fair rent, inclusive of services and hot water, but exclusive of electricity. From my time in a similar-sized apartment in Baridhara DOHS, where the electricity bill was an average of 2,500 a month with water heater, I assumed the bills would not exceed 3, 000 as, apart from the water heater, I have the same number of electric fixtures here as there. I am alone with a responsible housekeeper who refuses to use the sitting-room a/c. Of course, I accept my share of the lighting of the 'shared space' i.e. staircase and garage.
Imagine my surprise when the bills for May and June were over 4,500 and then, while I was away in the UK, the July bill was over 2000! Then, on my return, the August bill was over 5,000 taka! I have discovered that there is a single electricity meter and the bill is just divided among the tenants and owners of the flats but, even with the separate metre I have been promised, how can I be sure that someone has not negotiated a 'slice' of the bill with the electricity company?
The provision of hot water and, indeed, the whole plumbing system is bizarre. The taps have to be turned on for anything between 5 and 15 minutes before the hot water gets through and sometimes it still does not come, for one reason or another, including, I have discovered from my own 'detective' work, if the pilot light has blown out in the boiler on the roof. The hot water comes to the kitchen tap much more quickly than to the main bathroom, where the hand shower may eventually produce hot water but not the shower overhead, which is always cold! Oh, and no hot water at all comes to the spare room shower!
Complaints have no effect! Indeed, the general assumption in these parts is that consumer complaining is only done by 'bad people'! (A glowing exception to this general rule are the staff of the supermarket, 'Agora', who receive feedback positively and even enthusiastically!) But how else can customer satisfaction be gained? If one is the customer of a Property Company and one's genuine complaints are not listened to, is there really no system of appeal to consumer law? How can we get respect? I am sure I speak on behalf of many in a similar situation.
My only comfort is a nice tenant upstairs who says that he is ashamed that a hard-working foreigner is being treated as I am.