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We've been cheated...

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Joined: Tue, 28 Jul 2009

We've been cheated...

Postby twistermoves » Tue, 28 Jul 2009 3:50 pm

Hey everybody,

I wanted to share my story to serve as a warning and to see if I could get any help or advice.

We are two sisters who came to Singapore to study at the NUS. While over here we talked to a real estate agent so that we could find a place to stay during our education. She seemed like a really nice person and we didn't know much so we blindly put our trust in her and accepted what she told us. Later when talking to other people who live in the condominium we found that she was seriously over charging us for the fees. The price of the property itself was in line with the market price but she was taking almost three times as much agent fees as other agents. We signed a one year contract and now we want to renew the contract but not through her - we now know of any number of agents who will charge us much less. Unfortunately we signed a document with this clause:

"In the event that each time the tenancy is renewed after the expiry of the prevailing lease (either by way of an option to renew or otherwise), I/we shall undertake to pay you the agent fee ____ as service commission upon each renewal"
It later says that it doesn't matter who signs the agreement, as long as either of us are living there we have to pay her.

The landlord is perfectly happy to go through some other agent but we are scared because of this clause. The agent lives in the same condiminium so she would know if we stayed there. One strategy that we thought might work is that we could move in with our friends for one month, and for that one month the property would be in the friend's name (but we would not be living there) and after that month we would sign a new lease with a different agent and move back in. Can anybody help tell us if that would be in violation of the clause given above? Or can anybody suggest a lawyer or some other resource that we could go to for help?

More generally we have three main questions:
1) Is there a place we can complain about her?
2) What legal recourse does she have - what can she do?
3) How can we evade the contract

Thank you so much for your help - barring this experience Singapore has been such an amazing country with wonderfuly helpful people. We're seriously considering settling here for the long term, it's just so amazing and vibrant.


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Postby hibri2 » Tue, 28 Jul 2009 4:11 pm

there is another thread with the same issue,

so and so, can you just "pretend" not to renew and just deal with the owner directly (your question 3). that way the clause is not valid 'cause you are not renewing and you take the agent out of the picture if you deal directly with the owner.

by pretending i mean, to tell the agent that you are not renewing the contract and on the other hand, make a new contract with the owner and stuff.

now... about this:

She seemed like a really nice person and we didn't know much so we blindly put our trust in her and accepted what she told us

trust is something you should use with care, there is obviously untrustworthy people like for example religious people, bankers or politicians. as a rule of thumb; the people who are trying to sell something to you, by default... should never be trusted.
"Do not pray in my school, and I will not think in your church." - Unknown.

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Postby ksl » Tue, 28 Jul 2009 9:22 pm

I would believe it would be depend on the excess of overcharging, if it is excessive and that you can discuss with the Singapore estate Agency Association.

They may not be able to do anything, but I would lodge a police report if it is excessive amounts, this person may not even be a registered agent. There are 30,000 agents in Singapore and only 6000 qualified by courses.

You do not have to deal with an agent, You can deal direct with the landlord, this will save you both money, Although you must vacate the premises first.

If the SEAA is on your side, I would consider what the police say and your chances of taking it to arbitration to the small claims court, to recovery some of your money.

There is serious talk of clamping down on agents this month, because of the bad reputation of agents, not good at all for Singapore future, so I would gather as much evidence as possible to prove your case, is excessive.

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Postby durain » Tue, 28 Jul 2009 10:32 pm

terminate the current contract when it is up and sign up a new contract with the landlord. any clause in the current contract will be void.

defo follow up with ksl advise.

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