Why Iceland isn’t perfect either

For some time I’ve been thinking about this blog post, but I haven’t written it until now because I find it difficult to say ‘out loud’ that things aren’t perfect here. It was my own decision to move here after all. Paul Fontaine wrote a recognizable and funny article for The Reykjavik Grapevine in which he states the different stages of immigration: http://grapevine.is/mag/column-opinion/2015/02/16/what-kind-of-immigrant-are-you/. Based on this I’m probably in the The Apologist stage.

The Apologist. OK, so maybe everything isn’t exactly perfect here, and maybe some of the things wrong with the country are homegrown, but! There’s always a but, such as, “but immigration is still new here” or “but the country is too small for real competition in the marketplace” or “but a lot of Icelanders don’t know that that word is offensive, are you sure he wasn’t just quoting Chris Rock?” and other non-truths. Whatever it takes to excuse your favorite country by inadvertently implying Icelanders are ignorant hillbillies.

With the stages in mind I guess I can rant a bit without feeling too guilty.

First of all, and that’s the reason why I started this blog post, is that I realize that even though the general attitude of people here seems to be very positive (almost no crime, cars always stop for pedestrians, plus tons of good experiences with hitchhiking), this doesn’t mean everybody is okay. I have been spit on by a guy while walking down Laugavegur, for instance, and that is not nice.

But what I really want to talk about is our current landlord.

After moving to the new apartment I was very happy. Even though I noticed water damage immediately, I didn’t really want to make a big deal out of it. Of course I notified the landlord about this with the question if it could be fixed. But he didn’t send someone to fix it. After a month I noticed that my window was leaking in five different places, and this was a bigger problem. I could not get the landlord to do something about it and had to deal with the leakage for the whole winter.

At the beginning of this month I started emailing him videos of the leakage and asking for a lower rent for the rental period that the leakages weren’t fixed (I’m entitled to this, as stated in the rental agreement). He didn’t reply, so I had to send the email again.

To make a long story short: yesterday our landlord was suddenly in front of our door. He told us that big reparations are needed, and they will take 1,5 months. The whole building is going to be renovated basically; there’s going to be scaffolding and all the windows are going to be replaced. When I asked for lower rent, he said he ‘couldn’t do that’. When I asked why, he answered that he hadn’t known about the leakage and therefore is not accountable. I said I would get a third party to look at the apartment to judge the situation. To this he replied that he will kick me  ̶  and my flatmates  ̶  out.

Of course he can’t do this. His reason for kicking us out would be that we want a waterproof apartment. So, I’m not afraid of that in particular. It’s just so annoying to deal with this. I sent an email to the Ministry of Welfare yesterday and I hope they give me some advice about the situation. And my flatmate is going to get in contact with the renter’s association. Even if he can’t kick us out, he will definitely not renew our contract after our discussion yesterday and I wouldn’t want to stay here anymore with a landlord like that. This means that the ‘best-case scenario’ is that I have to move again in October.

What makes me happy though is that my flatmates and I are on the same page. We will not let the landlord kick us out because of this! So it’s time to start playing my resistance song again (yes, I have a song for these kinds of situations):

Unfortunately this blog post isn’t more positive after a couple of months of silence.