I write to seek your advise based on any past experiences you might have had, or heard, or not.
During the middle of January, I viewed a whole HDB which I liked quite a lot and made my intentions known to the agent who showed me the unit (found via a website). On this day, I found out that the unit belonged to a couple that lived abroad.
Within two days, this same agent then assisted me in filling up a Letter of Intent ("LOI") and requested that I pay a one month's good faith deposit to be placed together with the LOI in order to secure the unit.
I negotiated to pay only a half a month's deposit for the booking and unfortunately, I paid him in cash (he subsequently wrote a cheque for the same amount and asked me to take a picture of it as proof). The LOI I signed had a Lapse of Offer clause which stated that the offer would lapse within TWO days of the date I signed.
A week later, there was no news from the agent, on hindsight, I admit this should have been my getaway car to escape. But I called the agent to obtain a status of the LOI, he proceeded to ask if I was free within the next few days to sign the tenancy agreement ("TA"). Although he asked for my email to supposedly send me the draft TA for my advanced reading, he did not do so.
I met him and the landlord's agent during that weekend, Saturday, and when I was reading the TA, I came across a clause which stated "The first payment of rent is payable on the signing of this agreement...". Upon my query to the landlord's agent and my agent, they both reassured me that it was alright to only pay the advanced rental on the date that I was to move in.
I then signed the TA and paid my agent, again in cash, the remaining portion of the one month's security deposit, this time, my agent wrote another cheque for the full amount of one month's deposit and passed it to the landlord's tenant in front of me, with the landlord's tenant (edit: not tenant, I meant agent, sorry) subsequently writing me a receipt for the full amount. On this day, I did not view the unit which was in the midst of being vacated by the then-tenants. And on this day too, I found out that the agent was the landlord's brother.
On Monday, I went to view the unit and was dismayed that many of the items I had previously seen were now taken-away. Upon my questioning of my agent, he reacting defensively by insisting he had alerted me of the unit's condition. During this day too, I was showed an email exchange between the landlord's agent and his sister (the landlord), stating that she wanted to ensure that the cheque for the security deposit, and advanced rental had been cleared before the landlord's agent was allowed to handover the unit's keys to me. The landlord's agent once again reassured me that he would still pass me the keys upon the commencement date of the tenancy term since I was paying the advanced rental in cash, again.
That night, I felt very uneasy with the proceedings and the un-written promises made. I then wrote an SMS to my agent stating that I felt the house was in a "bare" state and at the minimal, mattresses ought to have been provided, failing which I felt I would want to back out of the deal. My agent then told me, if I chose at the point in time to back out, I would forfeit my deposit, I asked him to cancel the cheque that he issued but he told me the cheque had already been banked in and he would not. I told him that we would continue to "go with the flow".
As the tenancy term had another week to go before commencement, I began to perform extensive researching online on other tenant's experiences, to gain comfort that my situation was "normal". To summarise my findings, I realized that I had not been given any proof of authenticity with regards to the "landlord's" identity by my agent, I took it upon myself to request a verification of this ownership, I was initially ignored, then told that all I was allowed to view was a Power of Attorney letter ("PoA"), which authorized the landlord's brother, also the agent of the landlord, to act on behalf of the landlords during the period where they were overseas.
Last night was the date of TA commencement, but as I had yet to make verifications of the PoA, I stated that I was unable to avail myself from work and told the agent to come to my office to provide me with the documents for sighting. The agent and the landlord's agent both came, and after I sighted the PoA, I asked to sight all documents that I had signed as I wanted to make a scanned copy of the documents for my records (all I had at that time were pictures).
When the documents with my signatures were passed to me, I noticed that
1) The LOI had not been accepted via signatories
2) The TA had also not been signed
I ended up with the original documents (LOI and TA) in my possession, and I have tried using the absence of the acceptance signatures on the LOI as a way to nullify my offer and obtain my deposit back.
The landlord has stated, via an SMS correspondence (not verified) that she has deemed that I have breached the agreement and she will not refund me my deposit.
Do advise. Sorry for the length of this post. I truly require advice.
Slightly traumatized tenant
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