It’s not all done and dusted yet but it’s getting there.
Last night it was the revisit to the flat-with-the-terrace with FfI. She had already decided that this was the flat I should have
First, we met in our mutual friend’s shop. She’s from London and has a clothes shop – but not just any old clothes, specific designer clothes from the UK and Japan She is lovely and beautiful – tall, black and just stunning. Her shop is in Isola.
We walked to the flat-with-the-terrace. On the way, FfI saw a couple of guys (who looked a little like Beppe Grillo) and we spoke to them for a bit. They are jazz musicians who live in Isola and play, regularly, at the Blue Note Café which is also there. Nice guys. When FfI explained what we were doing one of them said we should go to his friends agency round the corner – but the problem is agencies. They always want between 10-20% commission (based on the annual rent). This equates to thousands of Euro which, given that I have to put down a deposit, pay three months rent in advance AND move furniture, etc. is just money down the drain, as far as I am concerned.
Obviously, when we first came here, we had no choice as we didn’t know the “rules” of renting in Italy – but oh how I wish we had known. It would have meant a much nicer flat for less money than we actually got in the end. Still, as I say, we didn’t know squat then and had no one to help us with the translation or anything, so it had to be.
The guy was there to show us round. When my friend had phoned originally, she had asked if it was an agency and had been told that “no, it wasn’t really and there would only be a very small charge as he was doing this as a favour for someone”.
The flat was great. Empty, the balcony on the front, overlooking the church was big enough for a small table and several chairs; the terrace at the back was, really, another room, only overlooked by the flats above. The kitchen seemed bigger than I remembered. Nearly all our furniture would fit if V chose not to take anything.
It was going to be such a difficult decision.
Then my friend asked about the rent (which was very reasonable) and the “spese” (this is the annual charge for the upkeep of the building, the cost of the doorman/woman, etc. She was shocked at how much it was. But again, the guy said that we could make an offer and he was sure that the total payable per month would fit my budget. It was looking good. The owner wanted the 3 months deposit and 3 months rent in advance, of course. This was going to make things a bit tight but it was do-able.
But then, my friend asked about the fee. It was to be 20% of the annual rent! It now became impossible. My friend suggested that, maybe, it could be paid over a period of time. “Oh yes”, he replied, “it wouldn’t have to be paid until the contracts were signed”! As my friend said – that means a couple of weeks from now!
Well, on the plus side, it took away the need for choice. It was now down to the perfect-flat-on-the-perfect-street.
Off we trundled into the centre of Milan to meet with the owner of the perfect-flat-on-the-perfect-street, as had been planned.
We arrived at a fabulous old building, just off Via Torino, one of the main shopping streets of Milan. The offices were on the first floor. We went up to see a typical Milanese older lady (probably in her 60s), smartly dressed, with money, jewellery, style, etc. She seemed nice.
On the internet, whilst searching for a flat, you can, usually, select those flats that are being offered privately (rather than through an agency). For this one it was in the private section and the woman living in the flat explained that she had put it on because otherwise she would lose 6 months rent. There was no agency involved.
However, whilst, maybe, not saying that we would have to speak to the owner (although I’m sure she did), she certainly implied it. In fact, this woman we were in front of was the Administrator of the building and not the owner (apparently the owner is 99 and I would get first dibs on the flat, to buy, when she dies!).
Now, here’s the thing, if you get a flat through the Administrator, it is similar to the agency thing. They want their “cut” She wanted 1 months rent as her fee! This was considerably less than the agency fee but, still, with 3 months deposit and 3 months rent in advance it was extra expense that I could do without.
So, I started to get my coat, explaining that the woman in the flat had said/implied that this was with the owner directly and a private deal not through someone wanting their cut.
The Administrator reduced her fee and then reduced it some more. My friend suggested that I pay the three months in advance and one months deposit, over time, building that up to three months deposit.
The woman asked someone else who said absolutely not but – I could pay three months deposit and then pay the rent monthly!
I filled in some details and paid her the ‘fee’. Of course, as it was so much less, although I had a receipt for the fee, once the contract was signed we would tear up the receipt so that the fee would be ‘in nero’ (in the black/under the table). Anyway, the result is that I pay less than I thought in advance even with her fee!
So, it was done! Obviously the contracts have to be drawn up and signed and the woman will try to get the current tenant out by the beginning of April. As soon as she’s out I can move in – and, as a bonus, the contract will start from 1st May so whatever I get, in terms of time in the flat, in April, will be free!
I was very, very happy.
As we were close to Peck and, as I have never been, FfI took me in. It is wonderful. Similar, for those of you who have been, to Harrod’s Food Hall. The displays of food were amazing. And, for future reference – they have Stilton. Immediately, I thought of Stilton and a good glass of Port. The Stilton looked wonderful. I’m sure that heaven, should I get there, is one big food hall, just like Peck!
In celebration we called in at Princi which is really a chain of bakeries – that do apero as well – the food, freshly baked on the premises is great and the cost of the apero, including a plate of food was only €5. For those of you coming to Milan it is one of the best places to go.
Then we made our way back to Isola as our friend-with-the-shop would be closing up and we could go for a drink. We had a lovely time and several drinks.
I still can’t quite believe it and have to keep saying to myself “I’m going to live on the perfect street” just to make it true!