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My Estate Agent Made a Mistake and Now I Have to Pay $1,700; Advice?

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justin_81
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My Estate Agent Made a Mistake and Now I Have to Pay $1,700; Advice?

Postby justin_81 » Sun, 24 Jul 2016 11:13 am

Here's my problem, I would appreciate any advice and thoughts anyone may have:

I've been living in Singapore for almost 5 years and have been renting my current apartment since October 2014. A couple of months ago, I received notice that my company was transferring me out of Singapore and I would have to leave in September 2014. My tenancy agreement has a standard diplomatic clause with a two-month notice period, so 9 weeks before my scheduled departure date I sent a letter to my estate agent to pass on to the landlord informing them I would be exercising the diplomatic clause and leaving my tenancy one-month early. My tenancy agreement had no listed address or contact details for the landlord and I had no contact details for the landlord's estate agent, so this was the only way I could think of to get my notice to the landlord.

My estate agent duly responded that she had passed on my letter to the landlord's estate agent, so notice had been given. But, several weeks later, I get an urgent call my from estate agent saying that the agent she had thought was the landlord's agent was not in fact, the landlord's agent. So, the landlord had never received the notice after all. We frantically got the correct estate agent a notice letter that day, but by then the damage had been done and my notice letter was 12 days late. As a result, I am now on the hook and responsible for paying for my apartment through to almost two weeks after I will be leaving and handing it back- roughly $1,700.

The landlord and the landlord's estate agent acknowledge that I did nothing wrong and I did my best to get a letter to them on time, but from their perspective they only got the letter when they did so are not willing to release me from my lease when I intended. My estate agent has said that she sent it to the incorrect estate agent, because that estate agent had misrepresented himself as the landlord's agent, when he in fact was not.

Ultimately, everyone is blaming the "rogue" estate agent who claimed he was working for the landlord when he had no standing as the landlord's agent, and to a lesser extent, my estate agent, for not understanding who was the real estate agent for the landlord. Regardless, I am being made to pay $1,700 and take responsibility for other people's mistakes.

My estate agent says we may have some grounds in that the landlord's address should have been on the original tenancy agreement and without it I had no way of directly communicating my notice to the landlord. The landlord is saying that they made it clear to my estate agent who she should have been dealing with and so they haven't done anything wrong either.

Does anyone have any tips on this? I am extremely frustrated and angry that I will have to pay out $1,700 even though I did everything I could to get my notice to the landlord.

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Re: RE: My Estate Agent Made a Mistake and Now I Have to Pay $1,700; Advice?

Postby ecureilx » Sun, 24 Jul 2016 1:27 pm

justin_81 wrote:Does anyone have any tips on this? I am extremely frustrated and angry that I will have to pay out $1,700 even though I did everything I could to get my notice to the landlord.


Take it up with CEA.

They don't like rogue agents

Actually toss your agent into the fire ...

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Re: My Estate Agent Made a Mistake and Now I Have to Pay $1,700; Advice?

Postby x9200 » Sun, 24 Jul 2016 4:40 pm

The first in the line of fire is your agent, not the other agent. Your agent should cover the bill. The fact no proper contact info for the LL or his/her agent was available is also what your agent should have though about. It was his/her duty to take care of such things.
Later, once your agent pays the bill he may have recourse towards the other agents (assuming he can prove what actually has happened).

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Re: My Estate Agent Made a Mistake and Now I Have to Pay $1,700; Advice?

Postby justin_81 » Sun, 24 Jul 2016 6:57 pm

x9200 wrote:The first in the line of fire is your agent, not the other agent. Your agent should cover the bill. The fact no proper contact info for the LL or his/her agent was available is also what your agent should have though about. It was his/her duty to take care of such things.
Later, once your agent pays the bill he may have recourse towards the other agents (assuming he can prove what actually has happened).


I agree. In my mind, I pay my estate agent to sort out just these sorts of issues so that I don't have to worry about them and it was her errors in not having the landlord's contact details, in not figuring out who the landlord's estate agent was that caused this mess. As I mentioned, the landlord's estate agent told me he has clear e-mail evidence showing that he made it clear to my estate agent that he was the only agent acting on behalf of the landlord, so she should have known. But practically, how do I get her to pay? What cards am I holding and recourse do I have? Another poster mentioned the CEA, are they a useful resource that I can complain to or at least threaten my estate agent with?

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Re: RE: Re: My Estate Agent Made a Mistake and Now I Have to Pay $1,700; Advice?

Postby ecureilx » Sun, 24 Jul 2016 7:40 pm

justin_81 wrote:Another poster mentioned the CEA, are they a useful resource that I can complain to or at least threaten my estate agent with?


My 2 cents ?

Don't threaten. Go to CEA and get your money.

Ah, agent's job here in Singapore is generally to take your money. Few bother to go the extra mile unless they see more business.

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Re: My Estate Agent Made a Mistake and Now I Have to Pay $1,700; Advice?

Postby x9200 » Sun, 24 Jul 2016 8:18 pm

CEA is not a bad idea but talk first to your agent. Tell her you expect her to pay, explain the rationale. If she is regretful, no reason for threatening. If refuses, perhaps bluff a bit that you consulted a lawyer and that if not paid, you will have no choice but go to CEA. Also, she may have a professional liability insurance? If nothing helps, go to CEA. If this doesn't help, then SCT is probably your only pragmatic choice.

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Re: My Estate Agent Made a Mistake and Now I Have to Pay $1,700; Advice?

Postby justin_81 » Mon, 25 Jul 2016 9:52 am

x9200 wrote:CEA is not a bad idea but talk first to your agent. Tell her you expect her to pay, explain the rationale. If she is regretful, no reason for threatening. If refuses, perhaps bluff a bit that you consulted a lawyer and that if not paid, you will have no choice but go to CEA. Also, she may have a professional liability insurance? If nothing helps, go to CEA. If this doesn't help, then SCT is probably your only pragmatic choice.


We still have just over a month till I depart, so I think everyone is just hoping that they get a new tenant which would solve all our problems. I messaged my agent telling her that the Landlord's agent has said he made it clear to her that he was the one that she should have been communicating with. She replied that's not true and that it's a breach of contract for the landlord to have not put their address on the tenancy agreement in the first place so they're in the wrong. The problem was that the "rogue agent" in this case used to work with the current landlord's agent so at one point they were communicating with each other but now longer are.

My plan is to wait a couple of weeks and see if we get some more viewings and a signal that a new tenant can be obtained - it's a great unit, but I'm uncertain as the economy has been slowing and the flow of ex-pats who would typically rent a place like this as slowed dramatically. If by mid-August there's no sign that a new tenant will be brought in, I'll start pushing a lot harder with both my and the landlord's agent. I'm the one getting screwed here but I'm getting the run around from both agents making claims about who is at fault.

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Re: My Estate Agent Made a Mistake and Now I Have to Pay $1,700; Advice?

Postby PNGMK » Mon, 25 Jul 2016 12:22 pm

You also have recourse to the SCT.
I have gay, black, Asian friends and then JR8.

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Re: My Estate Agent Made a Mistake and Now I Have to Pay $1,700; Advice?

Postby maneo » Mon, 25 Jul 2016 12:31 pm

justin_81 wrote:My plan is to wait a couple of weeks and see if we get some more viewings and a signal that a new tenant can be obtained ....
If by mid-August there's no sign that a new tenant will be brought in, I'll start pushing a lot harder with both my and the landlord's agent.

No, you should do what x9200 suggested right now:
x9200 wrote:CEA is not a bad idea but talk first to your agent. Tell her you expect her to pay....


justin_81 wrote:... it's a great unit, but I'm uncertain as the economy has been slowing and the flow of ex-pats who would typically rent a place like this as slowed dramatically.

Your agent got paid a commission - she is supposed to take care of issues like this.
You did your part.
Your agent failed to notify the landlord.
Your agent should cover the difference.

After this, get an agent that will take responsibility.

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Re: My Estate Agent Made a Mistake and Now I Have to Pay $1,700; Advice?

Postby PNGMK » Mon, 25 Jul 2016 1:40 pm

OP - you need be quick and pro-active. You may have to do an SCT hearing before you leave Singapore. Once you gone you have almost no real chance of sorting this out. Mano is right.
I have gay, black, Asian friends and then JR8.

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Re: My Estate Agent Made a Mistake and Now I Have to Pay $1,700; Advice?

Postby ecureilx » Mon, 25 Jul 2016 3:01 pm

PNGMK wrote:OP - you need be quick and pro-active. You may have to do an SCT hearing before you leave Singapore. Once you gone you have almost no real chance of sorting this out. Mano is right.


+1, than threatening and then finding out the agent switched phone number, or doesn't answer your call - move quickly and get it settled.

I may say the agent, at the maximum, would be hoping you will just go away, as most 'highly paid' expats do - so he or she doesn't have to worry.

If an agent can't even protect you - then there's the question of why you pay fees, regardless of the intricate details such as who is authorised or appointed or what not. You appointed this agent, so that's all that matters

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Re: My Estate Agent Made a Mistake and Now I Have to Pay $1,700; Advice?

Postby PNGMK » Mon, 25 Jul 2016 3:23 pm

Starting mentioning CEA and Small Claims Tribunal. Send a letter of demand stating that your agent will be responsible. If you end up in SCT the judge (magistrate) will mostly lay the blame 50/50 but it's still better than nothing. Be prepared to appoint someone with a POA to act on your behalf if you have left Singapore. All costs can be included in the SCT hearing. See my post on recent SCT successes.
I have gay, black, Asian friends and then JR8.


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