Here's my connection with Saudi Arabia. |
I spent a few months in 2015 fixing up my house to make it into a
rental. In North Seattle, the area is fairly international, urban,
In July I advertised it on Craigslist and chose a group of young men,
students from Saudi Arabia, to be my first tenants.
I was so proud of my house. The new window wells, ladders, steps down
to the new fireplace room. The planting beds. The rainwater
catchment system with pump and filters for irrigation.
The waste water heat exchanger below the shower, pulling heat from
shower water to preheat the water going into the hot water tank. The
new floors. I had done an extensive remodel thinking I would
live in this house, but I met my girlfriend who asked me to live in
her house instead. So I finished the three bedrooms and a gorgeous
tiled master bathroom downstairs, and rented it out to a group of six.
Nice young men, I thought. Very clean cut, very polite. They each
had nice letters from the King Faisal Scholarship fund saying they
were making $1700 per month. So they could afford to pay the rent, at
$500 each. Plus the utilities. There was no question. A real estate
agent friend of mine said, Noone doesn't pay their rent nowadays, you
should be okay. I felt very safe.
More, I was enthusiastic. Here was a group of goodwill ambassadors.
They were from all different cities and towns in their home country.
I could learn things from them, and they could learn also from me. I
asked them all kinds of questions about themselves, their history and
goals for the future. They seemed totally reasonable. One to join
the Army, another to become a chemical engineer, others looking for a
government job, where English would help them. Oh, they crowded around
to speak English with me. They brought me dried dates from home after
their trips home to see family. The only thing that jangled my nerves
was they seemed to play a lot of extremely violent video games. I
chalked it up to youth, ignored it. I thought as a landlord I had it
Oh, dear, how little I knew.
Not long after, my neighbors called saying the garbage was piling
up on the street. The city garbage and recycle department said they'd
send explanatory flyers, so the residents could learn to tell the difference.
The electric bill was in their name, the sewer water and garbage bill
remained in my name, that's Seattle city utilities' policy.
After six months, out of a 12 months lease, they suddenly all packed
up and left. Disappeared. Didn't clean up. Didn't pay the electric
bill. Didn't pay the sewer bill. Didn't refill the heating oil tank,
like the lease said. The cost of repairs, plus the lost rent, plus
the utilities, was equal to four months' rent.
As I found out later, most of them had had so much more fun smoking marijuana
and avoiding homework, that their scholarship money dried up, so they
had to go home. Vacation over!
One went to the Army back home, two to other places to live while
still studying in the Seattle area, the others just flew home.
They must have had a lot of fun.
Here are some photos of the bathroom they left
When I went into the house, I had to replace most of the light bulbs.
Here is the kitchen floor. How do you burn a spiral pattern on the
Here is the electric bill they left behind.
Here is the sewer water and garbage bill I had to pay because they
didn't pay it for even one month.
I had a month's rent as deposit. The financial loss to me during the
month I spent cleaning up after them and leasing it out again, was
four months' rent.
I spoke to one of them afterwards. He was worried that as joint and
several lease signatories I would demand responsibility from him. He
He told me a few things about his fellow tenants.
He said they would never, ever pay for these losses. No way.
He said, they said, they don't need good credit history in the USA,
because they are going back to Saudi Arabia and will never come here again, so
why should they care?
He said that they would feel stupid if they actually paid what they
owed, that they would feel humiliated if their friends knew they
actually paid what they agreed to pay in a signed contract.
"Humiliated" and "stupid" to perform their obligations in a lease, did
you hear that? And they "never" would.
What I can say it that's just how these particular six Saudi men roll,
when working with an American. So that others may have fair warning
in dealings with these particular men, their names and birthdays are