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Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sat, 10 Sep 2011 12:40 pm

econtse wrote:Hi X9200

Honestly, I have no idea on what's the residence permit. On 9 June, my job agent told me my application for employment pass was approved.

On 11 June, I came over to Singapore in Social Visitor Status and move into my current apartment. Please note that I don't have my Employment Pass at that time.

On 13 June, my 1st day in my new employer. I got my IPA (In-principle Approval) of my Employment Pass from my job agent. I went to MoM in upper circular road to hand over my passport with my IPA letter for my EP.

Once I got my EP card on 21 June. I gave a copy of my EP + passport to my landlord.

That's the whole story. What's a residence permit? EP card won't allow me to rent a place in Singapore? :???:


The residence permit is the EP.

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Postby econtse » Sat, 10 Sep 2011 12:48 pm

oh, okay. got it.

So, when I pay my final rental payment tomorrow, would it be useful if I ask the landlord to provide me the receipt by mentioning it's for final rental payment + unconditional refund for the period from 2Oct to 10 Oct?
* (I will move out on 2nd Oct, our billing cycle is 10th to 11th of next month, he asked me to pay the final rent in full and will refund me on the extra on my last day)

I think this receipt will be useful if I take him to small claim tribunal court in the worst case.

Any advice will be appreciated. Thanks!

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Postby JR8 » Sat, 10 Sep 2011 12:57 pm

econtse wrote:Thanks JR8

I know it's my bad to not requesting to sign a contract with the landlord. It is because I was asked to relocate to Singapore within just 2 days notice and I was afraid the landlord won't let me to move in if I troubled him with all the paper work.

Sorry for one more question, will it be helpful if I asked my landlord to give me a rental payment receipt by mentioning it's for Sept rental payment with refund for the period of 2nd Oct to 11st Oct? I think it may be useful when I get him to the Small Claim Tribunal.


If you have payments crossing a bank account, that is evidence. But please tell me you are getting rent receipts (in lieu of a contract).

To be honest this whole thing about payments/refunds is confusing the hell out of me. Just pay what is due.

Court action is the last resort, it is bugger to do, even when you win.

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Postby econtse » Sat, 10 Sep 2011 1:06 pm

Hi JR8

:( Unfortunately my landlord provided me the receipt for my 1st month rent payment and security deposit only. After that, he never gave me any receipt for rental payment so far.

That's why I want to get something to prove our tenancy relation and use it as a written compromise on the refund of extra rent he gonna get from me.
Actually, I prepared for the worst, i.e., he refused to return my rental deposit and refund on the extra rent. Although it's just 600-700 bucks, I would rather donate it than giving it to a greedy dishonest landlord.

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Postby JR8 » Sat, 10 Sep 2011 1:09 pm

econtse wrote:Hi JR8
Actually, I prepared for the worst, i.e., he refused to return my rental deposit and refund on the extra rent.


Surprise!

Although it's just 600-700 bucks, I would rather donate it than giving it to a greedy dishonest landlord.

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Postby x9200 » Sat, 10 Sep 2011 3:59 pm

econtse wrote:That's the whole story. What's a residence permit? EP card won't allow me to rent a place in Singapore? :???:


No, it's roughly ok way but this was not really like you got to know the whole deal in two days and had to move what your message suggested.

Back to the subject: did you ask him why he wanted the extended rental? Try to document from your interactions with the landlord as much as you can. A voice recorder could be a good idea.

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A not-so-common problem!

Postby noobs » Wed, 21 Sep 2011 6:55 pm

Hi all,

I have had a quick read of this thread, and I am very impressed by how helpful (and knowledgable!!) people here are. Certainly, I have learned of some mistakes i made in my past tenancies.

Now, the current tenancy I have is turning out to be a pain in inconvenient places (and literally so! You'll find out why as you read on :D )

Well, so we took this house as tenants on about two and a half months back. Two year contract - two months rental, one month agent fee. The day we moved in, we found the house infested with bed bugs, and it was a bad infestation. Of course, we couldn't spot the bugs when we went the view the house because they don't come out until the night.

Immediately, we informed the agents asking for prompt response. After two weeks of sleepless nights (talk about prompt!), they engaged a pest control agency that did two services. The owner paid for the pest control service (as she ought to, we feel)

But the problem persisted, and has remained so.

This month, we engaged a new agency for pest control. They recommended that we throw away all existing furniture. That is done. We are having another couple of pest control visits. But after the first one, the bugs have not gone, if anything they have multiplied suddenly, after the pest control. We have been bitten every night for nearly 80 days now! And now, the new agency says we will need to re-paint the walls and re-do the entire electrical wiring of the house to eliminate the problem (because the bugs can possible hide inside the wire casings)

The agent and owner have not shown much inclination to giving their tenants peace at home. Indeed, the owner's agent routinely ignores calls, emails, and does not deliver on his promises (he says: "Ok, let me call the pest control guys and i will get back to you in two days", and then he vanishes for two weeks, only to magically appear at the end of the month to demand rent. That's been the story so far.) It's been a most miserable time for us.

We feel that the Landlord has breached clause 3(a) of our Tenancy Agreement by failing to deliver to us the premises, the furniture, fixtures and fittings on the premises in good order and condition at the commencement of the Tenancy. (taken verbatim from contract). The Landlord failed to mention that the place was and is still infested with bed bugs.

It is possible that the owner was genuinely not aware of the bugs. There was a pest control visit in May when the previous tenant complained about bugs, but he did not complain thereafter. But, on a certain level, DOES it matter? The fact is that we did not get the premises in "good order and condition" at the commencement of tenancy.

Some other issues:

1. We made a list of faulty items in the first month (as per contract). Till date, not one of them has been addressed.

2. One of us in the house has developed a skin allergy because of the bugs.

3. The owner did not bother removing the furniture even after bugs were discovered, we had to lift them all and throw them out ourselves. Manual labour on top of paying the rent!

4. Right now, after the second pest agency recommended clearing all furnishings, we are living in an unfurnished house, so to speak. I requested the owner that we pay the rent for an equivalent unfurnished house in our area for this one month since we get no furnishings for no fault of ours, and she flatly refused.

5. Our performance at work has suffered greatly due to lack of sleep and general peace at home.

We are now considering moving a small claims tribunal here in Singapore. We are totally disillusioned with the entire episode, and want to move out with our deposit back (two months' rent) at the end of the current rental period. We want the contract terminated as the clause 3(a) indicated above has been breached.

What are our chances?

Please consider the following details:

1. To my knowledge, the signed tenancy agreement we were given does not contain any sort of stamp (as mentioned in earlier posts here). I will have to confirm upon going home.

2. The owner has so far paid for the pest control visits (we pay upfront and deduct from monthly rent). But things are moving so slowly, it's taken 80 sleepless nights to get here! And now we find that painting and re-wiring are involved!

3. This particular month, we notified the agent by email that we will delay the payment of this month's rent until we pay for the pest control visit (it was purely a convenience arrangement, because we were supposed to pay upfront for the pest control and deduct from rental, we wanted to be done with the pest control payment and deduct it from this month's rent itself)

Is it possible to seek compensation from owner because of what we have gone through?

If not, can we just get out of this hell-hole with our deposit back?

What are your chances? Please help.

In trauma ;)
Noobs (really, we are to get ourselves into this shi*! :)
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Postby x9200 » Thu, 22 Sep 2011 8:39 am

@noobs, this looks like a real mess. Few points:
1. try to find a lawyer just to get a legal advice - whether breaking the contract for the reason of persistent bug infestation (with all the background info you provided) is ok.
1a. Alternatively, just do it (send a termination note). If he disagrees make him aware that in a case of any troubles including problems with your deposit he can expect a (counter) claim in the court and here you can add to the basket all you mentioned, health problems, disturbance, not fixing defective things etc. Make a conscious effort and document all this as much as you can.
2. all correspondence to the LL and the agent(s) should go via registered snail mail
3. all the regular TAs have also clauses ruling the situations when the premises are inhabitable, typically fire, natural disasters etc. - check how is it phrased
4. do not withhold the payment of the rental unless this is a safe move by the wording of your TA - typically it is very unsafe and the LL can just kick you out after 2-4 weeks keeping your deposit and suing you for the commission refund (if applicable).
5. It is very important that you can prove that the bugs where in the premises before you moved in. It would be also very useful if you could prove the LL knew there was still a problem with the bugs at the time you signed TA / the flat was handed over.

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Postby noobs » Thu, 22 Sep 2011 9:41 am

x9200 wrote:@noobs, this looks like a real mess. Few points:


Thanks a million for that!

A couple of quick points

1. One thing that worries me a bit. Since we have been paying upfront for all the pest control visits, we made a convenience arrangement with the owner's agent - informally. The pest control people were supposed to come on 15th Sep. Since our rent was due on 11th sep, I wrote a mail to the owner;s agent on that day saying that first, we will pay for this pest control on 15th and subsequently pay the balance as rent (instead of paying the full rent on Sep 11th and paying again from our pocket for pest control and deducting from the payment due the following month, on Oct 11th). The agent didn't bother replying (as usual) and we went ahead and held back payment until the pest control was cleared up. Then we heard that painting work was to commence soon, and we just decided to pay up for that as well and clear the rest of the rent (actually due on Sep 11th) to the owner before the end of September. Now, he came back yesterday (21st) and demanded payment by the end of the day, and we have cleared it up before the end of that day by online transfer (we dont have his receipt though)

[Does that make sense >>> what I wrote above??]

Clause 4 of our agreement states:

"If the rent hereby reserved or any part thereof shall be unpaid for SEVEN (07) days after becoming payable (whether formally demanded or not) or if the Tenant shall at anytime fail or neglect to perform or observe any of the obligation, stipulations and agreements herein contained on its part to be performed or observed or if the Tenant or any other person in whom for the time being the Tenancy shall be vested shall become bankrupt or .................. in any of the said cases, it shall be lawful for the Landlord at any time thereafter to reenter upopn the premises or any part thereof and thereupon this tenancy shall absolutely terminate but without prejudice to the right of action of the LL in respect of any antecedent breach of this Agreement by Tenant."

Does that spell any bad news?

Thanks a ton!
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Postby x9200 » Thu, 22 Sep 2011 12:26 pm

noobs wrote:1. One thing that worries me a bit. Since we have been paying upfront for all the pest control visits, we made a convenience arrangement with the owner's agent - informally. The pest control people were supposed to come on 15th Sep. Since our rent was due on 11th sep, I wrote a mail to the owner;s agent on that day saying that first, we will pay for this pest control on 15th and subsequently pay the balance as rent (instead of paying the full rent on Sep 11th and paying again from our pocket for pest control and deducting from the payment due the following month, on Oct 11th). The agent didn't bother replying (as usual) and we went ahead and held back payment until the pest control was cleared up. Then we heard that painting work was to commence soon, and we just decided to pay up for that as well and clear the rest of the rent (actually due on Sep 11th) to the owner before the end of September. Now, he came back yesterday (21st) and demanded payment by the end of the day, and we have cleared it up before the end of that day by online transfer (we dont have his receipt though)

[Does that make sense >>> what I wrote above??]


I am a bit lost here. You mean you did not pay even by the 15th?
You probably have in your TA a clause that nothing should be deducted from the rental payments and even if not, what you quoted below says you should pay the whole amount. Another clause probably says something like that any change to the contract blebleble requires a written notice / approval of the LL or tenant respectively. Normally nobody cares too much about this but going to the war with the LL you should be extra careful.

noobs wrote:Clause 4 of our agreement states:

"If the rent hereby reserved or any part thereof shall be unpaid for SEVEN (07) days after becoming payable (whether formally demanded or not) or if the Tenant shall at anytime fail or neglect to perform or observe any of the obligation, stipulations and agreements herein contained on its part to be performed or observed or if the Tenant or any other person in whom for the time being the Tenancy shall be vested shall become bankrupt or .................. in any of the said cases, it shall be lawful for the Landlord at any time thereafter to reenter upopn the premises or any part thereof and thereupon this tenancy shall absolutely terminate but without prejudice to the right of action of the LL in respect of any antecedent breach of this Agreement by Tenant."

Does that spell any bad news?


I think you know what it says so if you are preparing for a fight (in the case you want to move out) I strongly encourage you to pay the rent in time. You will be on the safe side then. Some people may argue that the LL does not deliver what he promised so it is fair to deduct or withhold the payment but generally these are the courts to get some justice/enforcement and not the individuals.

Yet another thing you may try, and this (if doable in SCT) is rather a safe option, is to sue the LL for all what the TA stands for meaning that he has to provide you with the accommodation free from the insects and other defects because this is basically are the benefits you are paying for. In other words he either needs to provide you with a replacement accommodation or temporary accommodation till he manages to get rid of the problem or terminate the contract and pay you some compensation and damages (including moving out expenses) - check in the SCT if such claim can be filled. All the guidance SCT provides is about reclaiming money so I am not sure if this would be in its jurisdiction.

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Postby noobs » Thu, 22 Sep 2011 12:37 pm

x9200 wrote:

I am a bit lost here. You mean you did not pay even by the 15th?
You probably have in your TA a clause that nothing should be deducted from the rental payments and even if not, what you quoted below says you should pay the whole amount. Another clause probably says something like that any change to the contract blebleble requires a written notice / approval of the LL or tenant respectively. Normally nobody cares too much about this but going to the war with the LL you should be extra careful.



Well, after pest control, the house re-painting was due, and again we were to pay upfront, so we just assumed that the most convenient thing for all would be to pay for that as well, and then settle the balance as rent.

However, we have now paid the rent (balance after deducting for pest control). We did so within the same day of the agent sending us a message that he expects payment within that day.

x9200 wrote:

Yet another thing you may try, and this (if doable in SCT) is rather a safe option, is to sue the LL for all what the TA stands for meaning that he has to provide you with the accommodation free from the insects and other defects because this is basically are the benefits you are paying for. In other words he either needs to provide you with a replacement accommodation or temporary accommodation till he manages to get rid of the problem or terminate the contract and pay you some compensation and damages (including moving out expenses) - check in the SCT if such claim can be filled. All the guidance SCT provides is about reclaiming money so I am not sure if this would be in its jurisdiction.


Sorry, in option two above, do you mean terminate the contract AND RETURN our deposit ??

I hope you do! :)

Thanks!


AND ONE LAST THING!! :)

It is possible that in this case, the LL has broken the contract in July and subsequently by not providing a house to us that is liveable, and possibly we now broke it inadvertently through our ignorance, by making that informal convenience arrangement with the agent (deducting expenses from rent, and delaying payment to adjust for expenses etc).

Does it matter who violated it first? If yes, then we have some length of rope to play with.
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Postby x9200 » Thu, 22 Sep 2011 1:18 pm

Yes, and return the deposit :)
Who violated first probably matters a bit but IMO not too much. Is it your agent and have you paid her/him a commission? If yes, and here I am again speculating, you can probably sue the agent (if it comes to the worst) in SCT for all the damages resulting from his incompetence (a contract for a provision of services is in SCT jurisdiction). Besides, you can report the agent to CEA (http://www.cea.gov.sg). Tell him about this if he still neglects you.

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Postby noobs » Thu, 22 Sep 2011 1:26 pm

x9200 wrote:Yes, and return the deposit :)
Besides, you can report the agent to CEA (http://www.cea.gov.sg). Tell him about this if he still neglects you.


Yes, we paid one month deposit to our agent. It's a she actually, and I sometimes wonder if she is cowed by the owner's agent, who is a he, or perhaps there are good friends.

She has been a bit responsive (taking our calls, contacting the owner's agent etc), but very slow to act (80 days now and we still on our own! Yesterday was a particularly frustrating conversaion for both of us and she just lost her temper at me on the phone: "You guys just leave the house lah, I am doing everything i can for you guys and you still keep asking me new things every time ..." and so on!)

all in all, not satisfied with how it has panned out!

Thanks a million for your advice!

I'll come back and add hopefully, the final chapter of this long dramatic tale, on this forum! :)
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Postby Nomadic Guy » Mon, 31 Oct 2011 12:13 pm

Very helpful original post.

I'm looking at a Serviced Apartment and most of the tenancy agreement looks up to snuff. Besides taking the 'immoral' clause, the only other clause I'm not sure about is one that has the tenant pay all legal costs in the event the landlord sues the tenant. Is this normal? I don't like that the landlord has a "free" option to pursue legal action. Should I request some kind of recourse provision, or would Singapore courts automatically give me that recourse if the landlord's claims are without merit?

Thanks very much

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Postby x9200 » Mon, 31 Oct 2011 12:52 pm

The landlord has the right to sue you anyway because this is everybody's right and cannot be restricted by any agreement. You can sue her/him too.
If you are in breach of some contract clauses leading to the contract termination and it ends up ugly and in the court where the landlord wins he still can sue you in a separate trial to recover the costs regardless TA says something about it or not. It only makes it more straightforward if included to the TA.


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