Advice Requested For Unacceptable Living Conditions

My husband and I moved here a little over a week ago to teach English at a Hagwon. We began working 2 days ago and moved into our apartment the night before our first day of teaching. The people who lived at this apartment before us are the employees who we're replacing. Until we were able to move in, the school put us up in a love motel for 6 days.

Here's the problem:

The previous tenants did not, whatsoever, clean the apartment. They left us with overflowing recyling bins, broken stuff in drawers and closets, mounds of dust, mold and mildew on windows and wall corners, dirty kitchen cabinets and, a broken refrigirator, etc. The place was left in the same condition in which they lived. The school did not check the place out after they left. I brought this matter to the Director's attention and she has not addressed the issue. She says she is too busy right now. All I want is for her to pay to have it professionally cleaned, because it absolutely needs it. This apartment was neglected and truly left to rot for years.

It's so dirty that we can't unpack. I can't put my things away because none of the surfaces are free of dust or dirt. I know that we will have to do some of the cleaning ourselves, however I'm hesitant to take on the entire apartment because, well, this is not what we signed up for. Also, if I was to attempt cleaning myself, it would be a costly endeavor. I would have to buy cleaning supplies, a vaccum, etc. 

So, does anyone out there have reasonable advice? Have you been through something similar and if so, what did you do?

Re: Advice Requested For Unacceptable Living Conditions

You probably have a building manager or apartment landlord who should check the condition of the place between tenants. A lot of them ask for a fee when you move in so they can buy cleaning supplies. At the very least the manager should replace the broken fridge.

If you don't see him get your boss to call him, I'm sure she isn't too busy to make a phone call!

Re: Advice Requested For Unacceptable Living Conditions

I don't know what others have experienced, but in the few times that my wife and I have moved, it has been the responsibility of the new tenant to clean the house. I never thought it made sense (rules we learned in kindergarten; clean up your own mess), but my wife, a korean, says this is customary.  We have always cleaned before we leave a house hoping that the future tenant will pay it forward.  

Definitely make a list of appliances that aren't working and give the list to your boss. It sounds like your place was in pretty bad shape, but you might just roll up your sleeves , grit your teeth, and take a day to buff it out. Choose your battles.

Re: Advice Requested For Unacceptable Living Conditions

I am sorry to hear that.  One thing in Korea it is that outgoing tenants don't clean.  The incoming tenant cleans the apartment.  Usually schools have some inkling of western culture and they charge the last person for cleaning, whether this cleaning takes place is a matter of luck.

You can insist the school pays a cleaner, or offer to go halves in paying a cleaner, or as per Korean culture pay the cleaner yourself.  I paid w25,000 to get my oneroom cleaned although that was a few years ago.


Good luck.


Re: Advice Requested For Unacceptable Living Conditions

I agree with Mr. Cross. Not much you can do in this one. I have lived in 3 apartments and only one was clean before moving in because it was used by a decent family. The other 2 were an absolute mess. I hired a cleaning lady to do the hard work the day I moved into my big place. At the least, you can ask your school to pick up the cleaning supplies for you. they'll probably let you use the schools. Welcome to Korea. :) 


about 30,000 won will get you a cleaning lady for your small place. 
80,000 for a big place. 

Re: Advice Requested For Unacceptable Living Conditions

haha.  that sucks.  i was lucky.  all of my apartments have been clean for my move in.  the landlord

should be able to help with the fridge.  everything else you are probably on ur own.  the school might

decide to be nice and pay for cleaning supplies.  but either way... you are probably on ur own in order

for the place to meet ur living standards.  good luck!

Re: Advice Requested For Unacceptable Living Conditions

That is unacceptable, and I can understand.  My wife and I were in a similar situation when we first moved here.  The previous tenant (the guy who worked at our school) left our apartment a complete wreck.  Later he admitted to never cleaning once the entire year and a half he worked at the school.  Our employers took care of the problem right away.  They put us up in a hotel for an extra night.  Then, they hired a cleaning service to pick up after the schmuck, and then took it out of his paycheck (after telling him over the phone, in my presence, that it is unacceptable to leave an apartment grotesque).  

Try to talk to your employers again and put your foot down (tell them in a respectful way that it needs to be taken care of immediately).   Tell them you refuse to live there until the apartment is clean.  I realize that this may be very uncomfortable since you just moved here and started your job, but you need to stand up for yourself.  I am sure that they would not like to move into those conditions either.  I hope everything works out for you guys.

Re: Advice Requested For Unacceptable Living Conditions

Thank you everyone for the helpful advice! I feel better able to handle this maddening situtation. However, this past Friday, my boss said she is too busy right now to help. I guess I'll be hiring a professional cleaner. I just wish the previous tenants would be held accountable, but life isn't fair, is it? (Sorry, I'm not in the best mood right now.)

Re: Advice Requested For Unacceptable Living Conditions

Generally you're best to just clean it up yourself--the average cleaning woman here uses cold water, soap, maybe bleach if you're lucky, and is not particularly thorough.  They'll do a once-over and you still won't be satisfied.

Also, mold buildup is a much bigger deal to us than it would be to our hosts.  The service Mattsid recommended is supposed to be very good.