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Housing Maintenance and Repairs Woes - How To Manage?

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American
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Housing Maintenance and Repairs Woes - How To Manage?

Postby American » Sun, 12 Jul 2015 10:49 pm

I'm a relative SG newbie (<1 year) and rent a newish condo. As a newish condo, we've had our fair share of unit defects, i.e. problems that are not due to owner negligence (wiring, flooding, machine malfunctions, etc...) We signed a clause whereby we agreed to pay for any repairs below $150, and would need to seek approval prior to any repairs >$150. We've had quite a few big ticket repairs needed due to unit defects (not tenant negligence). The agent/realtor seem nice enough, but have not been responsive to big ticket repair requests that are true unit defects.

Overall the building is nice, but the unit defects keep piling up. It's been a nightmare getting approval and reimbursement for these repairs. We've had to pick and choose our battles for only critical defects to be repaired. It's quite frustrating, given how much I fork out in rent per month.

Given the frustration, we are looking to move elsewhere upon end-of-contract, and find a new agent/realtor to deal with. Question for you all:

1. Can we negotiate a Service Level Agreement regarding response time for repairs >$150? Has anyone been successful negotiating such a clause? Something like, owner agrees to respond to all defect requests >$150 determined to not be tenant negligence, by an agreed upon contractor?

2. Can we negotiate to have a pre-defined and agreed contractor/handyman in the contract that can do repairs as defects arise, and who would agree to bill back the owner directly for any defects >$150? As a mutually agreed-upon contractor/handyman, we would expect them to have good judgement to make a call on what items are due to negligence, versus items that are true unit defects.

3. How have you all handled repairs? The process is quite frustrating: (1) call a handyman to look at the issue, and if >150 and determined to not be due to negligence, then, get a repair quote (pay out of pocket for inspection) (2) report the repair cost to my agent. (3) wait for my agent to reach out to the owner's agent to request approval (4) owner's agent reaches out to owner regarding repair fee. (5) wait for owner to approve repair. (6) schedule handyman to come back and do repair. (7) pay out of pocket for repair. (8) send invoice to my agent. (9) wait for my agent to send invoice to owner's agent. (10) wait for owner's agent to liaise with owner regarding the reimbursement. (11) once owner approves, owner sends check. On average, this process has taken us 2 months from quote to reimbursement! We've only been successful once!

4. Can anyone recommend how they've effectively managed unit defects/non-tenant negligent repairs in the past? I know it all comes down to having responsive agents/owners. Owner seems reasonable enough, it's just the number of hoops we have to jump through that is frustrating.

5. Going into my next contract, I'd prefer to not have to deal with so many middlemen. Is it normal to have to go through your agent (that helped you find the unit), for all repair requests?

6. Since the RE market is quite slow right now, and would prefer to just stay put, I plan on re-negotiating to have all reported defects repaired, in addition to negotiating a lowered rent... Hopefully it works out, if not, I'll be ready to move to a new condo (with hopefully less defects, and a less cumbersome repair request process!)

7. If we decide to move somewhere new, we'd prefer to go direct to owner (or at least, the owner's agent directly). Is this normal in Singapore? Since we know exactly what we want in a condo (location/amenities) and have become quite familiar with the lay of the land, we don't mind doing the extra legwork to find the exact place we want without an agent's help.

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martincymru
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Re: Housing Maintenance and Repairs Woes - How To Manage?

Postby martincymru » Mon, 13 Jul 2015 2:01 pm

I like to "manage" the process hands on. Lot of effort yes, but at least I retain direct control.

I know how to do it and I know what I am doing. ..... much, much better than any LL or Agent I have met here in Singapore.

I am a qualified surveyor with lots of experience in maintenance matters so it is easier for me. For many it is a nightmare; I sympathise. Cannot really offer a solution.

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Re: Housing Maintenance and Repairs Woes - How To Manage?

Postby movingtospore » Mon, 13 Jul 2015 8:29 pm

Quite honestly, they're hopeless. With the odd exception, but mostly hopeless. Except for the big ticket items we tend to fix things ourselves as it's just not worth the hassle. And they rarely, if ever, actually "fix" anything, anyways.

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Re: Housing Maintenance and Repairs Woes - How To Manage?

Postby Sunny1123 » Fri, 17 Jul 2015 1:59 am

1 and 2: You can put anything mutually agreeable in the TA, so it probably comes down to owner flexibility. You might have luck with a max response time. I doubt any owner would want to put a pre-arranged contractor in the TA, though, or let a contractor decide which repairs are the owner's responsibility.

3 and 4: I've been lucky to have a responsive and reasonable owner, so I deal with them directly. I've only involved the owner for problems that were obviously not my fault, and they provided (and paid directly) the contractor. If you are stuck working through the agent for major items, perhaps you can try being a bit more "politely assertive" - just explain the problem and request a timeline for having it repaired.

5: I think it's common to work through the agents, especially if the owner is overseas, but it's not required. If you are using your agent's services throughout the tenancy, and your TA has the common renewal commission clause, keep that in mind.

7: If the place is already listed through an agent, there will be a commission paid. In that case, having your own agent might be useful. Otherwise, direct to owner is possible, and doing stamp duty online is easy. I don't know if it's common, but in my building, the manager knows which units are rentals and when people moved in. If you're looking at a particular building, a friendly manager might put you in touch with owners of soon-to-be-available units.

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American
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Re: Housing Maintenance and Repairs Woes - How To Manage?

Postby American » Fri, 17 Jul 2015 2:12 am

Sunny1123 wrote:
5: I think it's common to work through the agents, especially if the owner is overseas, but it's not required. If you are using your agent's services throughout the tenancy, and your TA has the common renewal commission clause, keep that in mind.


My agent is a complete deadbeat! Once she got her commission, she fell off the face of the earth. I've had to go directly to the landlord's agent to get anything done - it's been a game of hot potato ever since. Now that the lease is ending, I'll be putting pressure to get these repairs done and get FMV direct with the landlord's agent. Luckily, I didn't sign any Common Renewal Commission Clause (I thoroughly scanned my TA, and the agreement to buy doc and didn't see any such clause). But just to be sure, is this Commission CLause typically something you sign once you agree to receive services from the agent (prior to initial search phase), or is this something built into the TA? Or perhaps is it another doc which comes before the TA?

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Re: Housing Maintenance and Repairs Woes - How To Manage?

Postby Sunny1123 » Fri, 17 Jul 2015 1:39 pm

American wrote:Now that the lease is ending, I'll be putting pressure to get these repairs done and get FMV direct with the landlord's agent.


I'd worry that engaging with the owner's agent about a possible renewal could lead to the agent demanding commission on the renewal. If you have a way to contact the owner directly, I'd start there. If the owners wants to keep using the agent and pay the commission (which you are sure to pay indirectly via higher rent, of course), then you can choose to negotiate with that agent directly or find your own agent. If the owner is willing to negotiate directly, then you can do that without either side paying commission.

American wrote:Luckily, I didn't sign any Common Renewal Commission Clause (I thoroughly scanned my TA, and the agreement to buy doc and didn't see any such clause). But just to be sure, is this Commission CLause typically something you sign once you agree to receive services from the agent (prior to initial search phase), or is this something built into the TA? Or perhaps is it another doc which comes before the TA?


I guess you could have any side agreement with your agent, but the clause is usually part of the TA. For example, my original TA had a section specifically titled Renewal Commission that included "if the Tenant is to continue the lease after the full term ... both the Landlord and Tenant will be obliged to pay their Agents a further half (½) month’s rental commission for every year of lease the Tenant renews and pro-rated for any part thereof, provided always that the Agents continue to provide active service towards any such renewal or extension of the lease."

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Re: Housing Maintenance and Repairs Woes - How To Manage?

Postby American » Sun, 19 Jul 2015 5:45 pm

that's good advice to contact the owner directly. I'd much prefer to go through the owner then all the hoops with 2 sets of agents, or even the owner's agent. I'll give that a try and see how it goes.

And your comment on the renewal commission - I scanned my original TA thoroughly and there is no where in the clause that mentions a further half month's renewal. So I think I'm in the clear there.


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