Landlords keep a key?

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ScoobyDoes
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Landlords keep a key?

Post by ScoobyDoes » Fri, 25 May 2007 7:19 pm

Citing Illegal Immigrant Laws and an onus on a landlord to ensure his appartment is inhabited only by legals, my landlord has said he is responsible, under the letter of law, if illegals are found living there.

This means the courts would charge him also.

On this basis he has kept one key to the main door. Correct or not?



He let himself into the apartment this evening when i was at work and the place was empty, to measure a window that he agree to put a curtain rail up for. He had called me earlier to say he needed the size but i said i would SMS it to him. He agreed but never gave me notice of entering the apartment. I discovered he had been inside because the main room curtains were closed, which they never are...... and a sheet of paper had blown onto the floor.

When i called him he said he couldn't wait for my return as he had the contractor already there.

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Post by E-T » Sat, 26 May 2007 1:30 am

He has every right to keep a key under the law, afterall that is his apartment. He is not doing anything wrong in keeping a key. I kept a key to check on my tenant from time to time too.

However, to gain entry in that manner is somewhat disrespectful to the tenants as well. It's a definite no-no to me. I have never entered my apartment that way... always after tenant agrees to it. It's all about privacy and respect.

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Post by Rich D » Sat, 26 May 2007 3:20 am

I don't know about keeping a key (and I have no reason to doubt E-T) but the bit about the landlord being responsible if an illegal immigrant or over-stayer is found on the property is correct. They even did a man of the cloth on those grounds a couple of years back. The wife was letting a flat out to some Vietnamese at the time and I must confess I was a bit uncomfortable with it. We made a few house visits unannounced but never let ourselves in.

If there is a grille on the front door you could put a padlock on it I suppose but you may find it on the floor after a visit from Mr Bolt-snips. Is your landlord reasonable enough to pack it in if you ask him nicely? At the worst, being Singaporean he will realise he is likely to be answering some awkward questions from Plod if any of your stuff goes missing but its not so much that as the invasion of privacy issues isn't it.
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Post by ScoobyDoes » Sat, 26 May 2007 2:56 pm

E-T wrote:I kept a key to check on my tenant from time to time too.

However, to gain entry in that manner is somewhat disrespectful to the tenants as well. It's a definite no-no to me. I have never entered my apartment that way... always after tenant agrees to it. It's all about privacy and respect.
I agree it's his apartment and has a legal right but I don't follow "to check on my tenant from time to time" as this implys entering the apartment without their knowledge or approval, as if to spy.

Any authorised entry should be made with the tenant there and hence a key is not required. I don't mind a call to say "hey, I'm downstairs and coming up to check everything is okay" so long as i am home but to enter when it is emtpy only succeded in breaking my trust. This is my 6th apartment in nearly 13-yrs in now my third country in Asia and i have never had any landlord keep a key before.

When i asked my last landlord in KL (i was only in one apartment in 4.5yrs there) to change the locks, he sent round a locksmith. The guy cracked upon the new box there and then and gave me everything inside all without a sign of the landlord.

Rich, we don't have a grill.

You know if you ask people that have been burgled generally they are less upset that stuff was stollen and more they feel violated that someone went through their stuff? This feels exactly the same since for one i didn't even know he had a key!

The window that needs the new rail is right at the front door. When i got home the curtains to the balcony were closed, which i never do and these are at the opposite end of the room from the main door. What business, then, did he have to walk in so far? None.

My family are moving here in a few months. I often travel overseas a week or two at a time so at it's most extreme how can i leave my wife and 10-month old here when i man i don't even know has a key to the front door and has already shown his willingness to use it!?!?!

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Post by Rich D » Sun, 27 May 2007 4:31 am

ScoobyDoes wrote:
You know if you ask people that have been burgled generally they are less upset that stuff was stollen and more they feel violated that someone went through their stuff? This feels exactly the same since for one i didn't even know he had a key!
Yep, exactly - I empathise w?th you. I asked a Singaporean friend who is out here with me and a landlord what the story is and he tells me that they do have right of entry with no notice - because of the illegal immigrant issue as mentioned. Whilst that is not an informed legal view, in the light of it, it looks like your only options are to reason with your landlord for some respect of privacy or add/change the locks.

Sorry this is not the answer you are hoping for but let me know how you get on.
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Post by Cubby » Sun, 27 May 2007 2:19 pm

Am sorry but I would find your situation unacceptable. As a tenant you have rights- like the right to privacy which your landlord has violated. He is not allowed to have unrestricted access to the apartment he gave that up when he rented it! Granted it is his property, but he has presumably signed an agreement with you? What does it state? As a tenant you are usually obligated to allow him prior permission at an agreed time to enter, both to view maintenance issues and to allow the next tenant to view the property when you move out. If you have a good tenancy agreement, as long as you obey the terms you as a tenant are entitled to “peaceful enjoyment of the premises without interruption from the landlord or any of his agents”

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Post by ScoobyDoes » Sun, 27 May 2007 4:15 pm

Thanks guys, i've passed the matter to my property agent since he has emphasised from day one he wants to be involved for the duration of the tenancy..... not like agents i had in Hong Kong or KL that rented the place only to be never heard from again. So in this case i'll let him.

My agent, obviously, is on my side and agrees the landlord has now broken the trust between us. He say to me the landlord has no right to enter the place without my approval....... which would only be given when i am physically at home. As such we are demanding the third key.

Cubby, in this regards i already had the locks changed a couple of weeks ago by the landlord because i didn't know how many keys the previous tenant would have. It's a natural process for me to change the locks in any apartment i move in to and always by the landlord but this is the first time he kept a key. I wasn't expecting it so didn't watch the installation and when i got two keys i thought that was it. I didn't expect the packet to have a third one and i didn't see if it had been previously opened.

I do have a pretty good tenancy agreement that does, Cubby, include the terms you mention.

My agent even mentioned that i make a police report in case i discover stuff missing then hold the landlord accountable. The report would then act as a means of preventing his entry again but being honest, i don't want to live in an apartment surrounded by all this animosity so it is my hope to build up a level of trust again in the coming months. Since i don't like moving any more than anybody else it was my hope when i moved in that i could renew the tenancy agreement if i still like the place then. To do this i need the landlord to be willing to keep me too.

Finally, we are going to get the landlord to put a chain (or similar) on the inside of the door. I will feel at least a little more comfortable when i leave my family for a few days, regardless of whether we have obtained the third key or not...... since what's to stop him making a fourth one before handing us the third.

Thanks again, will let you know happens next :wink:

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Post by Cubby » Sun, 27 May 2007 11:04 pm

You dont need to live surrounded by animosity, like you said it takes a few minutes to make a duplicate key, so pointless making him return the 3rd key. Give yourself peace of mind it costs max of 50 bucks to change the barrel combination, and do it without the landlord there so you know exactly who has the keys.Make sure your landlord knows that yes he is allowed entry to view his property to ensure it is not being used for unlawful purposes but he can only so with your prior permission/ presence, as should be stateted in the tennancy agreement,otherwise you will have to make a police report that your personal property has been interferred with and anything missing, he will be chief suspect!

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Post by Rich D » Mon, 28 May 2007 4:27 pm

Putting on my best barrack room lawyer's wig and gown (in other words I am no expert but here is my 2 cents worth) I doubt very much whether any rental agreement you manage to get a landlord to agree/sign will supersede any legal entitlement he has.

I understand entirely the intention and loss of privacy issues but you must understand that you have come to live in Singapore where the individual's rights are not always paramaount to what is considered to be the common good.

By all means try to increase the level of control you can exert over your privacy but to do so too strongly or overtly is likely to have a negative impact possibly even arousing suspicion. For all your trips to the locksmiths, Messrs Boltsnips and Door-ram could enjoy a nice outing courtesy of the boys in blue.

To leave you on a note of reassurance, I never once had a visit from my landlord - announced or otherwise - except when I asked them to come to fix something in my presence - during 8 years of renting in 4 separate places.
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Post by ScoobyDoes » Mon, 28 May 2007 5:01 pm

Rich D wrote:For all your trips to the locksmiths, Messrs Boltsnips and Door-ram could enjoy a nice outing courtesy of the boys in blue.

To leave you on a note of reassurance, I never once had a visit from my landlord - announced or otherwise - except when I asked them to come to fix something in my presence - during 8 years of renting in 4 separate places.
I don't plan to change the locks again. I know that the previous tenant doesn't have keys anymore and that's the reason i always change them. Although i was surprised to learn the landlord let them keep a key to (now) my mailbox for the first two weeks after I moved in!

The fact now the landlord has a key is a different situation although in my previous countries and apartments they didn't. I just hope to rebuild a level of trust and understanding that makes us both happy.

Even if he calls the boys in blue, there is nothing illegal in my house so they are more than welcome to break down the landlords own door...... no wait, i have some mp3 on my....... let me sort that out right now ;)

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Post by jpatokal » Mon, 28 May 2007 9:02 pm

Rich D wrote:Putting on my best barrack room lawyer's wig and gown (in other words I am no expert but here is my 2 cents worth) I doubt very much whether any rental agreement you manage to get a landlord to agree/sign will supersede any legal entitlement he has.
If you think that the landlord has a legal entitlement to enter your apartment whenever he wants to, then let's see you pull that up on Singapore Statutes Online. Otherwise, the rental agreement stands, and it always has (or at least always should have) a clause saying that the landlord can enter with prior notice. I would definitely get the lock changed, and without telling the landlord about it either. If he tries again and is stupid enough to break and enter (as opposed to, say, calling you), then it's time to get the police involved.
To leave you on a note of reassurance, I never once had a visit from my landlord - announced or otherwise - except when I asked them to come to fix something in my presence - during 8 years of renting in 4 separate places.
I don't think the original poster will find this very reassuring, because his landlord already entered his apartment without his permission.
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Post by EADG » Tue, 29 May 2007 11:18 pm

agree with JP & Cubby - if anyone came into my place unnanouced I'd whack them

it states in my contract that they cannot enter unless there's an emergency like a fire, and I had that confirmed before I signed

people here are very cavalier with their private information and privacy - like simple lucky draws asking forDOB and NRICs - if people give that up so easily (who knows what is done with private information) they are likely to be less protective of what they should control

no one should come into your place unless you allow them on your terms
Cubby wrote:Am sorry but I would find your situation unacceptable. As a tenant you have rights- like the right to privacy which your landlord has violated. He is not allowed to have unrestricted access to the apartment he gave that up when he rented it!!

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