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How can I find out if tenancy agreement is stamped?

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chel
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How can I find out if tenancy agreement is stamped?

Postby chel » Sun, 24 May 2015 1:29 am

Hi there, I have searched high and low on internet and this website but could not find the answer. I signed a tenancy agreement with ex-landlord and paid cash to his rep for the stamp duty (no receipt... I know, I should have asked for it). They did not confirm or provide proof of stamping. How can I find out if my tenancy agreement was stamped?

I have since moved out after the lease ended and I gave ample notice in advance, but the ex-landlord has refused to return the 2-month security deposit for utterly ridiculous reasons. They wanted it for replacing the toilet bowls, bathtub, kitchen tap and sink, coffee table, tv cabinet, etc. etc. simply because there were light stains or scratches although most of them already existed when I moved in. I want to claim the money back through the Small Claims Tribunal. As I understand, to go to court, I need to have a legal tenancy agreement, i.e. it was stamped. If the agreement was not stamped, what options do I have to recover the deposit?

I do not have landlord's contact details (the address is a vacant property, no phone number / email address). The rep (only known as Lyn) has not been answering my calls and only emails from a gmail account.

Any clear direction would be great. Thanks!

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JR8
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Re: How can I find out if tenancy agreement is stamped?

Postby JR8 » Sun, 24 May 2015 11:21 am

https://www.iras.gov.sg/IRASHome/Other- ... -Property/ seems like the official website explaining the requirements.

To be admissible as evidence in court a tenancy agreement has to be 'stamped' as required above. The rules/law work in a similar way in the UK too. Otherwise in the court's eyes the TA doesn't exist. - I'm not a lawyer, but that is my direct experience.

The TA should state who is responsible for the Duty. I've just checked re: our current place, I paid it, online, and had to provide proof to the landlord's agent that I had.

Also note item 5, here:
http://www.singaporeexpats.com/guides-f ... rental.htm

p.s. Was it an HDB, or a condo. If the former, did the LL have permission to sub-let?
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

chel
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Re: How can I find out if tenancy agreement is stamped?

Postby chel » Mon, 25 May 2015 2:58 am

Hi JR8, thank you. It was a condo. I know the tenancy agreement needs to be stamped. It was my first time renting in Sg and the landlord rep said she would do the stamping. She asked for cash for the stamp duty. As the property agent said the amount seemed correct and didn't object to it, I handed over the cash. I didn't know about the stamping cert. Now I am trying to find out if it was stamped. From what you said, if it wasn't, I have no way or chance of recovering the deposit?

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Re: How can I find out if tenancy agreement is stamped?

Postby x9200 » Mon, 25 May 2015 7:30 am

chel wrote:Hi JR8, thank you. It was a condo. I know the tenancy agreement needs to be stamped. It was my first time renting in Sg and the landlord rep said she would do the stamping. She asked for cash for the stamp duty. As the property agent said the amount seemed correct and didn't object to it, I handed over the cash. I didn't know about the stamping cert. Now I am trying to find out if it was stamped. From what you said, if it wasn't, I have no way or chance of recovering the deposit?

If there is no information in TA on who pays the stamp duty it is, by law I believe, the tenant who should pay. Stamp duty is a tax so not paying it also may result in some fines.
IRAS seems, modified recently their webpages and hardly any search and links works for my two web browsers (it was an excelent source of information), but note, this is also indirectly about informing IRAS on the rental income of the LL so I believe not paying the stamp duty may be also bad for the LL.

Now, I am also not a lawyer but IMHO TA stamped or not it doesn't disable all the responsibility of the parties that signed it. Basic question to ask, if TA is invalid, what is the legal ground for the LL to hold your deposit and the rental money you paid to her/him? If, again, TA is not valid, it should mean the LL owes you a lot of money and has a valid (money translating) demand at the same time for occupation of his premisses without any agreement. IMO, if the stamping has any effect on the validity of TA it is a more critical factor during the actual renting (you have no right to occupy the premisses) and less after.

Yet another think to consider: if the LL was obliged to pay the duty and failed to pay it, the LL could be responsible for repairs or/and compensation of damages her/his negligence caused.

In other words, I believe, the TA does not need to be stamped for any party to make a case for SCT. Your more serious problem may be the contact address of the LL.

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Re: How can I find out if tenancy agreement is stamped?

Postby JR8 » Mon, 25 May 2015 1:25 pm

@Chel
Did you get a receipt stating you paid cash for the stamp duty? Is this agent an officially registered agent?

@X9
My experience was when taking a court case re property. And out of the 100+ pieces of evidence, was a TA on which stamp duty was due, but had never been paid. The tribunal was instantly clear, when I first referred to it, that it wasn't stamped, and hence 'cannot be introduced into evidence'. In fact even all these years later I remember how *boiling angry* the chairman was that I had (unknowingly/ :o ) tried to. Hence my earlier point, that in a court case, something that should be stamped for duty but isn't 'doesn't exist'. Well, at least to the extent you can't rely upon it in evidence, which if the TA is core to your case would be pretty terminal to the case I'd have thought. [In my case it was peripheral to my situation, more of, another supporting document].

- Your other points, I can see where you're coming from... I don't know, that's getting too technical for my knowledge/experience.
p.s. If a landlord uses an agent, then I believe serving Notice on the LL, but via the agent, has the same effect. The agent is duty-bound to pass it on to the LL.
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

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Re: How can I find out if tenancy agreement is stamped?

Postby JR8 » Mon, 25 May 2015 1:30 pm

So, where we've got to (I think):-
- Did you get a receipt for the stamp duty?
- Is the agent registered, do you have their contact info?
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

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Re: How can I find out if tenancy agreement is stamped?

Postby x9200 » Mon, 25 May 2015 1:46 pm

You are right. This is what I just found:

52. Instruments not duly stamped inadmissible in evidence.
(1) Subject to this section, no instrument chargeable with duty shall be admitted in evidence for any purpose by any person having by law or consent of parties authority to receive evidence, or shall be acted upon, registered or authenticated by any such person or by any public officer, unless the instrument is duly stamped.
(2) Any instrument referred to in subsection (1) shall, subject to all just exceptions, be admitted in evidence on payment of the duty and the penalty, if any, chargeable in respect thereof under section 46.
Stamp Duties Act (CHAPTER 312)


Note also the p.2.

And I still think my earlier questions on the money paid are valid, this is just that the TA can not be used as an evidence, but OP should have other evidence unless all was paid in cash.

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Re: How can I find out if tenancy agreement is stamped?

Postby JR8 » Mon, 25 May 2015 2:39 pm

Well I never, there you have my 'ancient' understanding verbatim from the local statutes. Good find, well done lol!

Para 2 is also the same back home. So, for example, in the case of mine as mentioned, on one morning if an unstamped document is ruled inadmissible in evidence, I could go out at lunch-break to the tax office, get it stamped (stamped in retrospect, and likely with a late-payment fine), then quite legitimately return to court in the afternoon session and present it in evidence. In my situation it was peripheral so didn't matter that much that one item being excluded.

Your other point... yes, I don't know how that might pan out, maybe under Contract Law or something.... [really, no idea].

It underlines how important it is to ensure that if you've paid stamp duty to/via the agent to ensure you have proof (the IRAS receipt). Because if the tenant has no proof, (and maybe the LL/agent intentionally withholds it), that is also tantamount to giving the LL license to keep your entire deposit.... and there seems little a typical tenant, as we see from time to time here, reluctant to take any action, can do.
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard


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