Six Saudis Visit America

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, hip, affordable.

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 high end 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 pretty good.

Oh, dear, how little I knew.

A few months later, 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 they 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, 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.

I learned that 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!

They must have had a lot of fun.

Here are some photos of the bathroom they left behind.

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 floor, unintentionally?

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 was right.

He told me a few things about his fellow tenants. He said they would never, ever pay for these losses. He said, they said, they don't need good credit history in the USA, 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" if they performed their side of a signed contract, did you hear that? And they "never" would. That's just how these particular six Saudi men roll, when working with an American.

Draw your own conclusions.

 

Copyright © 2015-2018, Thomas C. Veatch. All rights reserved.
Modified: October 23, 2018