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Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

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Re: Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

Postby x9200 » Fri, 08 Jan 2016 5:19 pm

Marine2011 wrote:Dear Member,

I have received a letter from my landlords lawyer claiming SGD 56’280 from me. Let me give you a chronology of the events and supporting documents.

I would appreciate it if anyone could let me know how to proceed, as I want to avoid any mistakes in dealing with this matter.

Chronology:

- January 9, 2014: Tenancy Agreement signed for a period of 2+1 years [xxx]

- January 11, 2014: Tenancy Agreement takes effect (see [xxx] TA Signed)

- March 10, 2014: Received notice from landlord that the apartment is scheduled to be sold on April 14, 2014

- April 7, 2014: Received notice that sale of the apartment has been completed on April 7, 2014 and that ownership has been transferred

- October 10, 2015: Written notice for Option to Renew as per Clause 5.3 in the Tenancy Agreement should have been given latest by this day (“not less than 3 calendar months before the expiration of the tenancy”)

*I have not given written notice by the deadline

- November 16, 2015: First contact was made by the landlord with me directly to set up a meeting in person to discuss an extension of the Tenancy Agreement

- November 20, 2015: Meeting with landlord and his agent (who was introduced as a friend, hence I did not see a need to invite my agent to the meeting). A general understanding was reached that both parties are interested to renew the Tenancy Agreement but terms still under discussion.

- Rest of November 2015: Discussions back and forth regarding the terms of the renewal, mainly between myself and the landlord’s wife

- December 2, 2015: Agreement reached to renew the Tenancy Agreement

- December 11, 2015: Received new Tenancy Agreement, which was never signed

- December 19, 2015: Informed the landlord by phone that I would not be signing the new Tenancy Agreement

- January 10, 2016: Tenancy Agreement expires


Additional Notes:

To better understand why I have decided not to renew the Tenancy Agreement, although we had reached an agreement via WhatsApp has various reasons. First and foremost, it becomes evident in the communication that the negotiations were very painstaking and not necessarily in my favor considering market conditions. I did not feel treated fairly but in the end still compromised after making several proposals. However, as can also be read in the communication, the apartment was posted online and the landlord asked me to accommodate viewings whenever possible. I advised that I will do so, my only request was that pictures that were taken of the apartment would not be uploaded online to advertise the apartment, as I felt that this would invade my privacy. This was verbally communicated to the landlord during the meeting on November 20, 2015 and to all agents that viewed the apartment. By coincidence, my fiancée discovered pictures of our apartment on ..com on December 18, 2015. We felt that the landlord misused our trust and after the negotiations during which we already didn’t feel comfortable, we decided not to sign the Tenancy Agreement and look for a new apartment instead. We informed the landlord accordingly on December 19, 2015. After talking to the landlord, I received a call from his wife who threatened to take legal actions against me, as is also documented.

As I am not familiar with the Singapore law, anyone know how to handle? Do I need to get a lawyer as well?

TIA


So what they want this 50k for? Because you did not enter the lease and this is for the lease term?

In principle you don't need to take any action but just in the remote case they would extend their bluffing based on lack of your action, respond to them that the TA was never signed, registered mail, receipt advice. You don't need to explain any reasons. BTW, even if the option to renew is executed this would not make you to own them anything.

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Re: Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

Postby JR8 » Fri, 08 Jan 2016 5:27 pm

Marine2011 wrote: As I am not familiar with the Singapore law, anyone know how to handle? Do I need to get a lawyer as well?


I don't think it needs a lawyer at this stage (if at all). On the facts as stated so far it sounds like the LL is 'trying it on', i.e. creating a dramatic fuss to try and get some money out of you that they allege is due.

p.s. I am not a lawyer, but a landlord of some years now, during which time I've received a few of these 'World War 3 will begin tomorrow' letters claiming money. Try to keep a cool head, think above the threats and bluster, and as per my previous consider if the claim actually has any actual or reasonable basis. Does it have any merit? Again, it comes back to - why do they allege this sum is due, and how good is their argument? If it is simply bull$hit to try and scare you, one option is always to simply ignore them. [But either way, I'd take this as fore-warning that you won't be getting your deposit back...]
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

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Re: Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

Postby Marine2011 » Fri, 08 Jan 2016 6:58 pm

Thank you I have removed the address already. Was my mistake.

Sorry I should have be more explicit. As I have mentioned that the written notice was never given to them, we can't come to the option of the optional 1 year. Therefore during the negotiation we were talking about to renew for another 2 years (we have a copy, but never signed.)

So now their lawyer claim that we breach the contract because we take the option of the additional year(which we didn't) and now we choose to leave. The 50 plus is coming from the missing year of rent.

Now we have the letter:( they said if we ignore they will take legal action. Should I summarize everything with the evidence send it to the landlord appointed lawyer.

One important point which I have not mention is: the landlord stated in the lawyers letter was the previous landlord and not the current one. Because while we was renting the premises the apartment was sold to a new one. Another question is why does the lawyer use the old landlords name and how does the lawyer knows the name of the old landlord when the client is the new landlord?

Thanks and have a great weekend.

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Re: Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

Postby x9200 » Fri, 08 Jan 2016 7:36 pm

Marine2011 wrote:Thank you I have removed the address already. Was my mistake.

Sorry I should have be more explicit. As I have mentioned that the written notice was never given to them, we can't come to the option of the optional 1 year. Therefore during the negotiation we were talking about to renew for another 2 years (we have a copy, but never signed.)

As I wrote, IMHO it's irrelevant. The option to renew, if this is a typical one seen in Singapore only give the tenant right not to be immediately dismissed (if the LL wishes so). It does not guaranty anything else also for the LL.


So now their lawyer claim that we breach the contract because we take the option of the additional year(which we didn't) and now we choose to leave. The 50 plus is coming from the missing year of rent.

How it is in breach of the contract? Firstly, that contract already expired, secondly, as said earlier, this option only carries obligations for the LL.


Now we have the letter:( they said if we ignore they will take legal action. Should I summarize everything with the evidence send it to the landlord appointed lawyer.

Having a 2nd thought I would just ignore it. If you want a piece of mind (as I am also not a lawyer) just visit a lawyer, pay probably $100 for an advice and I believe you should be fine.


One important point which I have not mention is: the landlord stated in the lawyers letter was the previous landlord and not the current one. Because while we was renting the premises the apartment was sold to a new one. Another question is why does the lawyer use the old landlords name and how does the lawyer knows the name of the old landlord when the client is the new landlord?

In my opinion changing the ownership of the apartment does not affect the TA parties. It is the name that appears in the TA that is your party and not the new owner. The new owner may act at best as the old owner's representative but the ultimate responsibility is of the old one. In other words, if the new owner would decide to evict you without valid reasons (just an example), you would have a claim for damages towards the old owner and the old owner could claim it back from the new owner.
Curious if the old owner knows about all this.


Thanks and have a great weekend.

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Re: Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

Postby x9200 » Fri, 08 Jan 2016 7:42 pm

BTW, typically, what is decided in the court for a civil case for damages are the damages that are reasonable and could be documented. In this case, at worst, this would be an equivalent of probably 2-3 rents maximum. This just gives you an additional hint proving that all this sabre rating is nothing but bluffing.

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Re: Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

Postby JR8 » Fri, 08 Jan 2016 9:29 pm

x9200 wrote:As I wrote, IMHO it's irrelevant. The option to renew, if this is a typical one seen in Singapore only give the tenant right not to be immediately dismissed (if the LL wishes so). It does not guaranty anything else also for the LL.


Curious isn't it, you wonder if the landlord genuinely doesn't understand that an option is simply that, it carries no obligation: I.e it does not itself form a contract, it's simply an option to enter into a contract. Or, do they know that and are 'having a go'?
And, they claim 1yrs rent. On what contractual basis is the renewal they allege you have entered into, does it contain no break-clause, is it a fixed one year term? And if not then how is the figure derived.


Marine wrote: So now their lawyer claim that we breach the contract because we take the option of the additional year(which we didn't) and now we choose to leave. The 50 plus is coming from the missing year of rent.
Now we have the letter:( they said if we ignore they will take legal action. Should I summarize everything with the evidence send it to the landlord appointed lawyer.


You can't breach a contract that was never agreed. You didn't exercise the option, you sought to negotiate it, but were unable to satisfactorily conclude those negotiations, hence no follow-on contract (or liability) was formed.


x9200 wrote::In my opinion changing the ownership of the apartment does not affect the TA parties. It is the name that appears in the TA that is your party and not the new owner. The new owner may act at best as the old owner's representative but the ultimate responsibility is of the old one. In other words, if the new owner would decide to evict you without valid reasons (just an example), you would have a claim for damages towards the old owner and the old owner could claim it back from the new owner. Curious if the old owner knows about all this.


An interesting point, and I agree. That is why as a landlord with a rental flat, if you sell the flat to another person with the tenant remaining in situ, then the lease is invariably legally assigned to the new owner. I.e. -
A rider is added to the TA changing the name to the new owner, with his contact details. The tenant is given new bank details re: where to pay the rent. During the final month of the sale, the rent is apportioned (by the lawyer) x/month due to previous owner, y/month to new owner. Also in the background of the sale process the lease deposit gets conveyed between the vendor and buyer.
So [IMHO] unless the TA was assigned to the new owner, then the original LL is bound by the obligations of the original TA.
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Re: Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

Postby JR8 » Fri, 08 Jan 2016 10:18 pm

Marine2011 wrote:Now we have the letter:( they said if we ignore they will take legal action. Should I summarize everything with the evidence send it to the landlord appointed lawyer.


I received such a lawyer's letter during my time as a landlord; I still am but smaller-scale these days. IIRC I was the LL to a tenant, who when it came to leave had caused an unusual amount of damage to the flat. Far beyond 'Fair wear and tear', I mean unusually egregious, like writing off a carpet within 2 years of it being installed [leaving a hot iron on the floor and burning it] and so on, she even asked permission to repaint the bedroom, then in a subtle pastel shade that matched the flat, with a scheme of black, purple and IIRC silver gloss paint. And put up a full partition wall across the lounge! :shock: - I hope that that conveys some sense of the extremity.

Her father was a realtor, and her uncle (apparently) was her lawyer. Daddy paid her rent, a lot of money considering she was a student. And I don't think the father/uncle could believe their little princess could have done any of this and a lot more. So in that case I felt forced to make deductions when she left; something I never like and usually try and avoid doing - sometimes it's easier to let small matters go, and just move on.

Shortly thereafter, as mentioned earlier, I received a letter from her lawyer, and it was probably the single most hostile piece of correspondence I have ever received. It threatened legal action, WW3, and so on, unless I did x,y,z precisely as demanded. It honestly took me a couple of days to get my head around it, as it was extremely intimidating.

Once I'd picked myself up off the floor I considered it with a cooler head. Any legal action would take time to get under-way and I realised I was under no obligation to reply 'precisely as demanded'. After about a week I'd got over the initial shock and realised that the threat was a hollow one. So I decided the best response was - none: To show that I would not be so easily intimidated. When the deadline lapsed on the original demands there followed a second letter. It was shorter and far less hostile, but outlined how they were thus going to go ahead with legal action (lots of big fancy threatening lawyerish words) unless I complied within X-days. I ignored that one too, until about a week after their deadline. Then I replied, politely, against the allegations. I attached evidence that the deductions made were suggested and decided by the agent and not me. I also outlined some of the pretty stupid things their daughter/niece had done which perhaps surprised them. I illustrated how the deductions I had made were a regret for me to have to make, yet reasonable. So at that point I could conclude that all I'd done was reasonable, and if they wished to pursue action, I'd seek the full deductions that I could have originally claimed and fully justified, plus I'd be instructing a lawyer to represent me, and that I would seek the associated costs against them. [I.e I was 100% confident of my case, and if they wished to pursue it further, they would likely end up the losers]. I never heard from them again.

I realise this isn't any kind of direct parallel; but perhaps it gives you an insight into the legal posturing that you can find in lawyers' letters... So, I'd approach things with a cool and pragmatic head. Focus on the facts as you know them + what they allege that actually believe is true. Anything else, look carefully for bluff, bluster and intimidation. Question 1 in your shoes, was a [renewed] contract formed, and if not then what is the foundation of their case? - don't let the threats/bluster distract you from determining that... from what you have said I cannot see a renewed contract was formed, simply because it's negotiation broke-down without agreement having been reached.
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

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Re: Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

Postby Marine2011 » Sun, 10 Jan 2016 10:55 am

x9200 wrote:
Marine2011 wrote:Dear Member,

I have received a letter from my landlords lawyer claiming SGD 56’280 from me. Let me give you a chronology of the events and supporting documents.

I would appreciate it if anyone could let me know how to proceed, as I want to avoid any mistakes in dealing with this matter.

Chronology:

- January 9, 2014: Tenancy Agreement signed for a period of 2+1 years [xxx]

- January 11, 2014: Tenancy Agreement takes effect

- March 10, 2014: Received notice from landlord that the apartment is scheduled to be sold on April 14, 2014

- April 7, 2014: Received notice that sale of the apartment has been completed on April 7, 2014 and that ownership has been transferred

- October 10, 2015: Written notice for Option to Renew as per Clause 5.3 in the Tenancy Agreement should have been given latest by this day (“not less than 3 calendar months before the expiration of the tenancy”)

*I have not given written notice by the deadline

- November 16, 2015: First contact was made by the landlord with me directly to set up a meeting in person to discuss an extension of the Tenancy Agreement

- November 20, 2015: Meeting with landlord and his agent (who was introduced as a friend, hence I did not see a need to invite my agent to the meeting). A general understanding was reached that both parties are interested to renew the Tenancy Agreement but terms still under discussion.

- Rest of November 2015: Discussions back and forth regarding the terms of the renewal, mainly between myself and the landlord’s wife

- December 2, 2015: Agreement reached to renew the Tenancy Agreement

- December 11, 2015: Received new Tenancy Agreement, which was never signed

- December 19, 2015: Informed the landlord by phone that I would not be signing the new Tenancy Agreement

- January 10, 2016: Tenancy Agreement expires


Additional Notes:

To better understand why I have decided not to renew the Tenancy Agreement, although we had reached an agreement via WhatsApp has various reasons. First and foremost, it becomes evident in the communication that the negotiations were very painstaking and not necessarily in my favor considering market conditions. I did not feel treated fairly but in the end still compromised after making several proposals. However, as can also be read in the communication, the apartment was posted online and the landlord asked me to accommodate viewings whenever possible. I advised that I will do so, my only request was that pictures that were taken of the apartment would not be uploaded online to advertise the apartment, as I felt that this would invade my privacy. This was verbally communicated to the landlord during the meeting on November 20, 2015 and to all agents that viewed the apartment. By coincidence, my fiancée discovered pictures of our apartment on ..com on December 18, 2015. We felt that the landlord misused our trust and after the negotiations during which we already didn’t feel comfortable, we decided not to sign the Tenancy Agreement and look for a new apartment instead. We informed the landlord accordingly on December 19, 2015. After talking to the landlord, I received a call from his wife who threatened to take legal actions against me, as is also documented.

As I am not familiar with the Singapore law, anyone know how to handle? Do I need to get a lawyer as well?

TIA


So what they want this 50k for? Because you did not enter the lease and this is for the lease term?

In principle you don't need to take any action but just in the remote case they would extend their bluffing based on lack of your action, respond to them that the TA was never signed, registered mail, receipt advice. You don't need to explain any reasons. BTW, even if the option to renew is executed this would not make you to own them anything.


Please help me to delete all comment because eI have accidentally insert the address, which should be anonym.

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Re: Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

Postby x9200 » Sun, 10 Jan 2016 12:28 pm

I removed the address from the posts. If there is still left somewhere please let me know.

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Re: Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

Postby Olaline » Mon, 18 Jan 2016 3:22 am

Hi guys,

I need an advice. We used to live in Singapore some time ago and everything was fine. Now we are here again for 6 months. All we need is simple not too expansive room close to our work. We've found something like that, signed the contract for 3 months and moved in on Saturday.

The thing is that it seems that our agent lied to us and our LL. The conditions are a bit different, so we are not happy to stay there for long. We paid the deposit and one month rent, but we actually agreed with the landlord to stay in that room for a month while looking for something different and he said that's fine for him to give us back the deposit even though we have a contract for 3 months. The contract is not even registered, because we signed it yesterday (Saturday) and conditions seems to be completely different that we were told by agent.

What is surprising that our landlord has only 1/5 of our deposit and he is happy to give us that deposit back but the other 4/5 has the agent, who doesn't even want to talk to us. He told actually that we signed the contract for 3 months and if we'll move out earlier we won't get the deposit back. That means that no one has any rights now except the agent. WTF!? Do we have any rights?

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Re: Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

Postby x9200 » Mon, 18 Jan 2016 11:12 am

Olaline wrote:Hi guys,

I need an advice. We used to live in Singapore some time ago and everything was fine. Now we are here again for 6 months. All we need is simple not too expansive room close to our work. We've found something like that, signed the contract for 3 months and moved in on Saturday.

The thing is that it seems that our agent lied to us and our LL. The conditions are a bit different, so we are not happy to stay there for long. We paid the deposit and one month rent, but we actually agreed with the landlord to stay in that room for a month while looking for something different and he said that's fine for him to give us back the deposit even though we have a contract for 3 months. The contract is not even registered, because we signed it yesterday (Saturday) and conditions seems to be completely different that we were told by agent.

What is surprising that our landlord has only 1/5 of our deposit and he is happy to give us that deposit back but the other 4/5 has the agent, who doesn't even want to talk to us. He told actually that we signed the contract for 3 months and if we'll move out earlier we won't get the deposit back. That means that no one has any rights now except the agent. WTF!? Do we have any rights?

If the agent is the only problem just threaten her or him that you will file a report with CEA:
http://www.cea.gov.sg/cea/content/index.html

Renting for 3 months is illegal in Singapore so if he supervised the agreement this alone should be good enough to put him in trouble.

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Re: Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

Postby breid10 » Mon, 18 Jan 2016 2:17 pm

I am about to move apartments after our lease expired and our landlord was not willing to reduce our rent. We found information that the rents had dropped for 10 consecutive months in Singapore but our landlord would not budge. His agent came round to try and persuade us to stay and took some photos for the LL. We live on the bottom floor and have a small patio with even smaller garden which was planted with large overgrown bushes around the edge of the garden and small plants in between small 6" wide stones in the garden. The small plants died pretty quickly as Hornets keep digging and it seems to have killed them. We had a gardener from the condo come in and trim back the large surrounding plants so that we could see out and the LL has told the agent that we have destroyed the large plants and should have told him the other ones had died. I think he will try to keep some of the deposit for this but in out tenancy agreement it only says that we should look after the patio, does not mention plants. Where will I stand if he argues the point.? I know that LL's are well known for keeping deposits for small excuses.

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Re: Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

Postby x9200 » Mon, 18 Jan 2016 3:26 pm

If you trimmed the bushes beyond what was there when you took over the apartment and the difference was significant, then I would say the LL is right. Same for the smaller plants as they were left under your care. For the later, just replace them and the problem should be fixed. For the bushes, I guess you may need to pay something.

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Re: Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

Postby Olaline » Mon, 18 Jan 2016 3:32 pm

x9200 wrote:If the agent is the only problem just threaten her or him that you will file a report with CEA:
http://www.cea.gov.sg/cea/content/index.html

Renting for 3 months is illegal in Singapore so if he supervised the agreement this alone should be good enough to put him in trouble.


Correction: the contract is for longer, but after 3 months we can terminate without loosing our safety deposit. We told him yesterday that we gonna write a complaint to CEA. He threatens us with the police and the eviction, I have no idea on what basis. We just would like to get back our money earliear because the conditions are different that we were told. LL is ok with that. We haven't realised that agent in that case has any rights to say 'NO'
Last edited by Olaline on Mon, 18 Jan 2016 3:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

Postby x9200 » Tue, 19 Jan 2016 8:53 am

Olaline wrote:
x9200 wrote:If the agent is the only problem just threaten her or him that you will file a report with CEA:
http://www.cea.gov.sg/cea/content/index.html

Renting for 3 months is illegal in Singapore so if he supervised the agreement this alone should be good enough to put him in trouble.


Correction: the contract is for longer, but after 3 months we can terminate without loosing our safety deposit. We told him yesterday that we gonna write a complaint to CEA. He threatens us with the police and the eviction, I have no idea on what basis. We just would like to get back our money earliear because the conditions are different that we were told. LL is ok with that. We haven't realised that agent in that case has any rights to say 'NO'


Then just go and report him. Be sure you have your claims (LL's approval to brake the lease, his threats etc) documented. Write the story to CEA a systematic manner with all points you mentioned here. Unless the agent is a part of your agreement with the LL he has no rights to say anything.
Have you asked the LL why is it so that the agent holds 4/5 of the deposit?


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