The last night of your 10 day trip to Stockholm you decide to do laundry. The apartment you’ve rented has a laundry room in the basement floor. Lucky you! You’ve been in constant contact with the owner of the apartment who helps you find the hidden basement key and advises that bringing your own washing detergent is necessary. What a lovely and helpful guy, you think to yourself.
Everything about this trip seems too good to be true: all your touristy outings have gone spectacularly well, the centralised location of the apartment means you haven’t spent any money on public transportation, you haven’t had a problem with the language barrier, you just got back from having Selma (a delicious creamy baked good) during Fika (a Swedish afternoon tradition where baked goods and coffee are enjoyed) and your laundry should be dry any second now.
You walk through the dark and narrow hallway of the basement to retrieve your clothing from the dryer and notice some of your husband’s underwear on the ground. Surely not though, you think as you walk past them. You then meet the only man in Stockholm who has zero knowledge of the english language. That, or he was so angry he lost the ability to express himself.
This man grabs more of your clothe out of the dryer, forcefully places them in your hands and throws the remaining pieces on the floor. He keeps yelling but neither you or your husband understand him. This makes him seriously angry. The only other time you’ve seen a grown man so mad was your last NYC taxi driver, but that’s totally acceptable. You wish you spoke Swedish so that you could remedy the situation but you can only say “hej”.
You apologise profusely and run back to the “safety” of your rented apartment. Hopefully there is only one copy of the house key and you pray it’s the one in your hand. Seconds later, a conversation sparks from three floors below you. You would recognise that yelling anywhere: it’s Angry Swedish Man. Soon after, you hear a knock at your door. Adrenaline runs through your body as you push your husband toward the front door and find yourself a safe hiding spot behind the refrigerator.
It’s Ben, the building supervisor. Ben patiently explains the story behind the angry man. “This building does not allow tenants to rent their apartments out for short terms. It is against the law and the building contract for you to be in the apartment.” Your jaw drops in bewilderment as he continues, “This has been an open dispute between the owner of the apartment you rented and the rest of the building for a couple of years now. It’s ongoing and lawyers are involved.” Hence the reason for the ferocity and speed with which angry man got, well, angry. Your husband swears that tonight is your last night in the building and you will be gone for good tomorrow morning.
Ben says he knows it wasn’t your fault and suggests that you withhold your rental payment because, again, it is illegal. It’s already too late for that. Your husband explains how you two are good, honest people who paid the full amount of the rental cost in advance. You make a mental note to run background checks on every apartment you’ve rented for the rest of the trip. Ben randomly gives you some restaurant recommendations and leaves you to spread your clothe over the heaters. They didn’t dry properly.
Can you believe this happened to you on your last night in Stockholm?
No, wait. It happened to me not you. I’m just happy it happened on the last night of the trip and not the first. It would have been a way different story otherwise.
I’ve been a long time user of sites like booking.com, Airbnb and Stayz. This was the first time I’ve ever had any kind of problem. Knowing you’re walking into a situation like this is nearly impossible so there is nothing you can watch out for.
The only advice I can give is to make sure you book a place with a bed high enough to hide under.