Dear fellow Expats.
Please BEWARE of a loophole in our legal system where my ex-landlord is trying to exploit and cheat me of $2,400 Security Bond Deposit.
I was in a situation where I signed a 2 year lease and paid 2 months bond($4,400) then renewed for 1 year lease and new required bond was 1 month($2,000). Difference of $2,400 should have been refunded but was not and come end of the 3rd year the Landlord knew this loophole where taking them to Small Claims Tribunal the Judge cannot prosecute them as it is out of their 1 year jurisdiction.
They have made it hell for me the last 5 months, I really hope more people know about this and do not make the same mistake.
Full story below if you want to read:
Being an honest citizen I always GIRO and paid my rent on time and during the signing of new lease the Agent forgot to ask landlord for the difference in bond back. I did not know what was standard practice so mistakenly trusted Landlord would return me the full Bond when I moved out.
I even took 2 days off work and spent $1,200 repainting whole condo, curtains steam cleaned and put back and professional detailers clean the place. I handed back in as new condition with no complaints.
When came to ask for my bond back, the landlord act dumb and believe they had paid back the $2,400 difference a year ago.
They made every excuse under the sun to delay responding, they also accused me of not paying 1 months rent during the renewal which offsets against the bond owing. As I had banked with ANZ, now taken over DBS I could not log into ANZ.com.sg to download my eStatement to prove the transaction of debit rent or credit from bond refund. Eventually after many attempts and a couple of weeks I paid DBS $60 to order 2 statements to prove I never received their bond refund.
Landlord on other hand made no attempts to look at their own bank statements to validate the $2,400 debit. Instead kept saying so long ago don't know which accounts was but remember had settled. We asked what method of payment they also said forgot.
Ridiculously even accused the Agent given him cash, the agent said if had taken payment would have given them a receipt. Wife(landlord) then screamed at Agent over the phone "you prove I did not pay" and handed phone back to Husband.
Landlord held onto my full $4,400 for a month until Agent said please settle the $2,000 for 2nd TA as they had no excuse to withhold.
Sorry for long story, there was nothing else to do but take them to Small Claims Tibrunal(SCT).
We went to SCT last Friday, the Judge was very fair but unfortunately the Judge could not do anything because the 2nd contract for 1 year lease was settled and the contract in dispute is the 1st contract which was owing 18months ago.
Because of my situation, I could not have known the Landlord would play this game and not pay me back the bond. I had zero chances of knowing and lodging a Small Claims against them as I stayed an extra year.
The Judge in good will tried to remediate and help us come to a resolution. He asked the Landlord who kept claiming she was victim here and that because she paid the Agent commission during the renewal it was Agent's responsibility to deal with the refund, it's now a year and half later and she forgot if she had paid me or not. She also then blamed me for only bringing this up now.
She refuses to refund despite Agent confirming she owes me and genuinely believes the Agent should contribute $1,000 and me take a hit for my mistake of not asking for the bond back. She was only willing to settle for $1000 payment (which meant she net benefit of $1,400 whilst Agent made $0 commission and I lose $400).
The Judge really pitied me, he suggested I visit the Community Justice Centre for free advice. The Lawyer asked me to lodge a police report for record as the Landlord is clearly trying to cheat my money.
I raised and Police said they cannot do anything about this.
Please learn from my mistake, during contract renewals ask for your Bond back if there is a difference. There is very little support system for these types of cases.
If anybody has any suggestions, or know any Civil Lawyers who might be able to help me write a Demand Letter or some advice I would appreciate you sharing.
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