She Takes Your Money Like a Vampire Takes Your Blood.

Her houses always have construction problems.

Rented 3 houses from her in different locations, each house had multiple problems such as flooding, broken lights, and damaging the neighbor’s pipes during renovation.
The second house had serious flooding problems because they didn’t build the pipes very well, there are some days you smell toilet all the time, neighbors would also come knock the door and complain to you.
When there is a problem, she will send workers over to fix it but the problem is never truly fixed. She always uses the cheapest workers available who use the cheapest materials.

She’s not the landlord.

The third house we rented with her, the original landlord (not Holly) would often come to visit the house. He cared about the house’s condition, after all he knows that we pay a high rent for the place. He was shocked to find to find out that Holly was charging triple the amount that she was paying the him. The landlord also told us that that Holly was quite rude to him on the phone. Whenever the landlord called asking about rent, Holly would redirect him (the landlord) to her husband; he never picked up the phone.

Fortunately, the landlord didn’t try to ask for money from us. Once we moved out he asked us for  some tips on how to generally improve the quality of the house as a whole.It would probably have been easier to deal with the landlord directly rather than having Holly act as the middleman.

“Deposit”

So, at the majority of places that you rent, the landlord will ask for 1 month’s deposit. Holly wanted 2. Not a problem because we take good care of the places that we live in. We refurnished the house with our own furniture.

We had to break our contract early, and she didn’t return anything, citing minor damages and other frivolous and ridiculous costs. At the end of it all, we just wanted to leave so we left everything we had purchased for the house behind. She wants to take everything from you, even though you were her customer for three years, she doesn’t care.

 

4) She does illegal business, she takes your money like vampire take your blood, why still people rent with her?

A friendly warning to people in Beijing, her business is illegal since she is always secretly renting all the government owned(公家) hutong houses. She never give back your deposit money when you move out, even though you have dozens of construction problems during your stay? Even though the house looks more interesting than other normal hutong houses, but according to all those terrible things, do you still feel safe to rent from her?

You’re one of HomeUdream – Courtyard007 too? Send me an email at courtyard007.victim[at]gmail.com

Story #4 – Flooding, Gas Leakage and Illegal Construction Work

I lived in one of Courtyard007’s Homeudream apartments for less than three months and decided to leave after two floods and a gas leakage.

1st Flooding

After three days in the countryside, I came back to Beijing to find my apartment completely flooded. The floor was still wet, a few bumps had formed and the carpet, shoes and anything touching the ground were completely soaked. I saw the agent in the courtyard (she lives there as well), informed her about the damages and asked her to send someone to have a look.

She replied that she did not know what was wrong and that I just had to deal with it, because the rain had been exceptionally heavy. When I insisted she deal with the problem, the agent switched topics and told me that calling her “Ayi” was highly offensive as I was older than her. I apologized and explained that it was a genuine language mistake. But she kept the accusations coming.

She then told me I had to inform her every time I left Beijing for more than one day. She concluded by saying that she was going home otherwise she would beat me up and that I should never disturb her on her days off.  No worker showed up to look at the apartment.

Bumpy and wet floor and damaged shoes
Bumpy and wet floor and damaged shoes

2nd Flooding

In July, on one of the days when heavy rain soaked Beijing, I asked the agent to keep an eye on my apartment while I was at work. When I sent a message to ask about the apartment, she replied that everything was fine.

However, when I came home I realized that my apartment flooded once again and that someone had been inside and moved a couple of objects to avoid them getting wet. The agent then told me that since it didn’t flood much, she felt no need to tell me. The amount of water that sprang up from the floor when pressing on the wooden planks made it obvious that the apartment had a major structural issue.

The water seemed to come from underneath the floor, probably due to a complete lack of insulation. If within a week, a few wooden objects and some food turned moldy, one could only imagine the impact that this would have on a resident’s health. Again the agent refused to send someone or acknowledge this was a major issue. When I threatened to leave if she took no action, she told me that I had no right to move out over what she viewed as a small problem.

Wet floor, moldy and wet walls and mold on wooden table
Wet floor, moldy and wet walls and mold on wooden table

Gas Leakage

Living in a hutong and having to use a gas bottle I decided to buy a gas detector. When the alarm went off one night I asked the agent to come and do a proper check the next day. Instead of calling on a qualified technician, the agent just called the man selling gas bottles, who did a dubious test with soap and water.

When I told the guy to take away the gas bottle, as the test failed to meet any reasonable safety standard, the agent did not intervene, nor did she suggest other alternatives, and just asked for her 100RMB of deposit back.

Construction Work

After one month living in the flat, the agent started expanding her house. As a result the courtyard shrank by a few meters, causing all the bicycles to be parked directly in front of my entrance.

Workers showed up on weekends, and when I told the agent that this was illegal, she pretended not to know and said that the renovations would be over in 5 days. After two months of ongoing construction work, the courtyard was regularly filled with dust and rubbish.

Rubbish outside and inside the courtyard due to construction work
Rubbish outside and inside the courtyard due to construction work

Other Issues

  • The agent instructed me not to talk to any neighbours and never to reveal how much rent was.
  • The agent never gave me my internet details. She charged me the full monthly fee of 120RMB, but she was most likely sharing the internet among a few households, considering how poor the speed was.
  • The agent told me never to contact her directly and to just write in a group chat with a cleaning lady and a few handymen. When I mentioned that they did not reply to many of my questions, she reiterated that I could not write to her directly.
  • The contract was very dodgy and only later did I realise that she had failed to include the photocopy of the landlord’s ID as well as of the property.
Agent telling me not to contact her directly
Agent telling me not to contact Jenny directly

Story #3 – “She is the worst and no one should rent from her”

So I rented with Holly (now called Jenny) for two years in a hutong place near Dengshikou. It started off pretty sketchy as she wanted something astronomical for the place and showed me a bunch of other places that were not even close to being completed. During the lease signing process, I’m already a bit alarmed by her “fees for service” and “late fees” and no protections for me along with her entire attitude towards the process. We argue for a bit before she ends up knocking off the fees that she herself acknowledges are just there so that she can make money off of me. I end up signing even though the place is not perfect and she is super duper sketchy.
The first year and a half, though, by and large go smoothly. There are some issues with repairs, but the apartment holds up for the most part and is relatively comfortable. The floor heating eats my electricity bill like no other. Her “assistant”, by the way, is awesome – a super kind and helpful guy who was FAR easier to work with than Holly herself. And I had to call him far too many times.
Shit gets weird when in November of my second year, this random guy shows up outside my door and asks for his “rent” and wants to know what the hell am I doing in his apartment. Turns out this guy is the original landlord of the place (or the son of) and Holly (or rather her sketchy husband) is late with their yearly rent. This guy was friends with Holly’s husband, who apparently rented out this guy’s place on a ten-year lease, promising to fix it up, but that just he and his family would be living there. And that any renovations would be run by the guy. And, the kicker, that the rent for THE YEAR is 3x my monthly payments to Ms. Holly.
So this guy is grumpy and is like – pay me my rent or get out. I call Holly. She doesn’t answer. I tell him that his deal is between Holly and he and that, according to me, I have a valid contract with her and he needs to take this breach of contract up with her. He leaves.
I finally get in touch with her and tell her what went down and she starts screaming at me. Tells me that I shouldn’t have answered the door and why was I contacting this guy and how I’m the worst tenant and always complaining and blahblahblah. She threatens that she’ll never give my deposit back (and I’ve also just paid the next three month’s rent to her) and she’ll change the locks and all sorts of other stuff. I’m shocked because SHE IS CRAZY. She ends up backing down after I fire back threatening legal action and going to the police and complaining to the media. She says she’ll take care of it and when I ask her next, she says that her husband has dealt with it.
SPOILER ALERT – she didn’t fucking take care of it. This guy shows up at my office in March and tells me I need to start paying him rent. He has sent a cease and desist letter to Holly and her slimeball husband telling them because they didn’t pay the rent or notify him of the repairs and are illegally subletting it, that the contract is null and void. I tell him that that’s all well and good, but that the contract ends when you get a court to certify it. He gets frustrated and is like – well, I’m going to call the police. I tell him he can call whomever he wants, but as far as I’m concerned, my contract with Holly is still valid. So he calls the police. The police show up and, in the best moment of China being China, are like “WOAH – this is a foreigner issue!? Sorry bud, this one’s all yours” and quickly leave. Another amazing moment of that interaction is when I call Holly and say – the original landlord is here and would like to speak with either you or your husband as you have been avoiding his calls – and she immediately hangs up. I call her husband and the same result.
I end up getting a lawyer to handle all the go-between with this terrible terrible woman and the original landlord as I am kind of over it all. He deals with it and ends up getting a deal for me where my deposit is used as my last month’s rent so I don’t have to pay her a cent more. I move out well before my final day, both as insurance and because I’m leaving the country anyway and give her back the keys. As part of that deal, I wouldn’t say anything bad about her to anyone. Which, when she was showing the apartment to other people, I held to. AND I AM SO SORRY I KEPT MY SILENCE (if you are reading this, guy who saw my apartment, i’ll buy you many drinks to make up for it). Well, breaking that deal, because what she does is messed up and people should know about it.
A word of advice – do not rent from ANYONE unless you can get/see the ORIGINAL certificate showing that the person in front of you (and you can crosscheck it with their IDs) is the leaseholders with state-granted leasing rights. Holly and her husband and the shitbox Ikea-fied apartments her little cabal rents out do NOT have that power. And, as someone said earlier, public housing given by the government (which many of these hutong apartments are) is usually NOT allowed to be sublet. And, what makes it even worse, is that oftentimes, the actual owners (or rather leaseholders, because this is China) have no idea what is going on. Holly or her husband or both, go around Dongcheng and Xicheng to these individuals, pretend that they are just a fun couple with a kid who are doing their own thing and want a 10-year lease, promise to fix it up and then turn around and rent it out to unsuspecting foreigners. In theory, this could be a totally awesome business model that is socially responsible (preserving the cultural intangibles of hutong life) and, even more importantly, one where everyone wins. The original owners get a renovated apartment with a nice chunk of change every year, Holly and her husband make a nice profit, and her tenants get their dream of living in a comfortable, historic Beijing hutong with their fixed-gear bikes and roof terraces. Unfortunately, the reality is quite different because HOLLY IS A SCAM ARTIST who is only looking to make a quick buck. Had she been honest and forthcoming with both the landlords and the tenants, there wouldn’t even be this website. We’d all be constantly referring our friends to her, the landlords would love her and tell all their friends about her. More hutong life would be preserved and everyone wins. yay.
But whatever. She is the worst and no one should rent from her or continue to subsidize her shitty business. We all know that law and order are malleable and subject to the whims of the state in China and that many things can happen (but usually won’t), so try and protect yourself as best you can by staying as far away from this woman as possible.
More than 800 people saw the website, and I hear more and more people that was about to visit or rent that decided to retract their decision!
Please email me at [email protected] if you want to share your story with HomeUdream.com , it will help people to stay away from her, and really helpful for everyone in Beijing!

Story #2 “I want to make more money out of the situation”

It was a old hutong apartment in zhangzizhonglu
And she was nice with me and my husband, sending someone quickly when things used to break (way too often).
She was also patient when we were late with rent
The problem came when we had to leave
We told her that we were leaving two months in advance, because we were leaving China, and I also told her that I would have found another couple to take over our lease, so she wouldn’t have lost any money.

She said that it was ok, but to get my deposit back I would have had to charge the new tenants, not only the two months left in our contract and the deposit, but also the agent fee.
Because she literally told me that she wanted to make more money out of the situation
Basically she told that if I wanted our deposit back I would have had to be her agent and making her earn more money

– ok, but this agent money will not go back to you ?

That’s right. The agent money was for her

We ended up losing half of our deposit because we had to split an agent fee with the new couple that took over our lease

Her exact words were: I want to make more money out of the situation
Not only it’s not fair, it also sounds kind of illegal since there was not agent involved.
I showed the apartment to the new tenants.
And my husband and I ended up losing half of our deposit even if we found someone who took over the lease and We the apartment in perfect condition .
She always seems available to help you and be a good landlord but in the end she only tries to suck money out of you.

homeudream jenny trying to make the most of your money
homeudream jenny trying to make the most of your money

HomeUdream- Poor Business Practices

We started to share the blog 2 days ago about courtyard007 (homeudream) in Beijing, and seems like the impact is great! Just wanted to let you know that this is working!

  • Over 500 visitors have viewed this page since we started it.
  • Some editors from influential magazines are waiting to write about it. Once we get some more testimonials they’ll get started.
  • Many victims of Courtyard007’s business practices have reached out to me, it seems like it’s a bigger issue than what we thought. There are several WeChat groups that have been created just to talk about the problems with Courtyard007.
  • When you type “courtyard007”, the blog now ranks on the first page of Google. I remembered trying to google about it when I wanted to rent from them- but found nothing. Hopefully this will help people to find information about it. Also, the more stories we write, better this blog will rank in Google.
  • 3 new stories will be published in the coming days

And here some of the first feedbacks from wechat:

Hutong experience with courtyard007
Hutong experience with courtyard007

Everyone should be wary of Holly. My friend rented an apartment with her and it turned out to be illegal. The true landlord of the apartment showed up to my friend’s place of work with the police. He had to hire a lawyer to get everything sorted.

We lived in a holly hutong in 2011. Left because we were freezing to death. Her husband would come to “fix” things but just chill on our couch with *****. Another friend I have is having a similar experience right now with her

Here the impact of our website so far :

The words about courtyard007 spreads
The words about courtyard007 spreads

By the way, a new colleague of mine was going to rent one of holly’s apartment and then changed her mind after seeing my post, so on a small scale it’s working!

Do not hesitate to spread this blog, and email us at co[email protected] if you want to share your story with Courtyard007, it will really helpful for everyone in Beijing!

Story #1 My bad experience, an illegal rent with homeudream (courtyard007)

In 2015, I started living in a Hutong located around the Beixinqiao area. They run the website www.courtyard007.com (now homeudream.com)

Illegal Rent

So let’s start by saying that a lot of the houses that Courtyard007(HomeUdream) rents are not owned by themselves. That in itself isn’t a problem, the problem is that the houses are owned by the government (Screen shot attached below). These government-owned houses are not allowed to be re-rented to other tenants.
Therefore you can’t obtain a housing slip, here are some things that you need your housing slip for:
  1. Getting a new passport
  2. Getting a driver’s license
  3. Signing a new work contract
  4. Renewing your visa

Therefore the contract given to you is not an official government-approved contract.

illegal_rent_full

Unwanted visits

The contract (that is not legally binding), stipulates that any future viewing of the apartment can be done in the final month of the contract. However, starting from 2 months before the expiration of my housing contract, a number of guests wanted to view the house. They were forceful and at times rude.
Courtyard007 force visits
Courtyard007 force visits

Unreasonable Deposit Deductions

At the end of my term, the agent deducted a number of costs from my deposit. Here are some, with evidence.
  1. 1,000RMB- deducted for a small stain on the sofa that is barely visible.
  2. 1,000RMB- For a small stain on a mattress. This mattress was one that I purchased on my own to replace the original mattress that wasn’t in great condition
  3. 600RMB- For two missing IKEA chairs that cost 120RMB each. (she gave me back this money when I get back the chairs)
  4. 200RMB- For a missing A/C Remote cover
  5. 300RMB- For each missing key- keys cost at most 15RMB to replace. (that she gave me back this money when I get get a copy)
courtyard007-holly-deposit-handling
How Courtyard007 handle your deposit

I asked the agent to come to the apartment 3 weeks before the contract expiry so she could tell me what I needed to fix and she refused to do so. These costs weren’t brought to my attention until it was too late for me to fix them. I talked to the previous tenant and he told me the exact same story, his deposit was 8,000RMB and he lost all of it.

Other little things

The hutong comes with floor heating- it would be great if it worked though.
I requested repairs during winter several times but nobody ever came. They would come over and say that the room was really warm and that I was imagining things- my thermostat said 15 degrees, and believe me, it felt like it.

Conclusion

By renting with Courtyard007(HomeUdream), you should expect to lost the majority of your deposit. I’m not the only one, there will be many stories in the following days that details what their experiences are like. You may think that I’m a treated the house poorly but I lived in Beijing for 5 years in 3 different apartments. In my first two places I got 100% of my deposit back, when renting with Courtyard007(HomeUdream), I got a bare fraction of it back. I’m certain that if there was any more “damage”, I wouldn’t have gotten anything back. As a whole, I’m very disappointed with my treatment with Courtyard007, (HomeUdream) and just want to warn anyone else who may do the same.
If you’ve ever rented with Courtyard007 please share your experience with me. I’m not the kind of guy who complains but this entire experience really left a bitter, final taste of Beijing in my mouth.
If you have your story with Courtyard007(HomeUdream), please send an email to [email protected] , I’ll be happy to write your story here.
Enjoy Beijing everyone!