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Landlord refusing security deposit

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visitanamika
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Landlord refusing security deposit

Postby visitanamika » Sat, 27 Mar 2010 12:23 am

Hello..

My ex-landlord (seasoned property investor) is causing problems after I vacated. He has lined up frivolous maintenance issues to cover the security deposit and is posturing to add more issues. He is not open to a reasonable conversation and has now sent me a notice from his lawyer to corner me to accept his terms.

1. Any guidance on how I should address this issue?
2. I read about SCT Small Courts Tribunal - have people found it to be fair and effective? What are potential issues I should bear in mind?
3. How should I best prepare for an SCT hearing?

Thanks much.

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sundaymorningstaple
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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sat, 27 Mar 2010 6:45 am

Did you take photos of the entire flat prior to taking possession of the unit? If not, you may as well just kiss it goodbye and take it as a lesson learned. This is typical of a lot of landlords as there is not a centralized depository for holding deposits here in Singapore. Therefore, he's already spent your deposit on his last vacation. As tenants here don't have any real protection here, you are basically out of luck. You can try the SCT but I wouldn't hold your breath on a satisfactory conclusion.

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Postby SunWuKong » Sat, 27 Mar 2010 6:57 am

Small claims tribunal website:
http://app.subcourts.gov.sg/sct/index.aspx

This post and the subsequent discussion may be useful:
ftopic60579-0-asc-0.html
The nature of Monkey was ... irrepressible!

visitanamika
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Postby visitanamika » Sat, 27 Mar 2010 11:16 am

Thanks for the responses. Unfortunately, we did not take photos (did not see this coming).

List of things to be fixed has been agreed upon by the owner during the handoff - I have this in writing with his signature. However, through his attorney, he has added lot more things to the list after that (the cost for this goes beyond the security deposit) and is seeking a daily rental while they get fixed. Even worse, he is charging aircon servicing even when we handed over the receipt to him.

1. Does Small Court Tribunal squash the frivolous claims (not known to us / agreed upon earlier) etc., and give fair chance for wear and tear issues?

2. Do you know if 3rd party witnesses are admissible in the SCT? Can we ask the court to draw visitor logs etc., from the condo mgmt to nail the lies of the owner?

3. If the owner is pocketing the money (for frivolous issues) and there was no fix required to begin with, is there a way to prove at the SCT that he has actually spent the money (contractor receipts etc.,?)?

Thanks.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sat, 27 Mar 2010 11:55 am

The problem you will face is that in the SCT you will not be able to engage an lawyer or outside witnesses (unless it has changed since I used them the last time (it's been a couple of years ago now). It will be only you and the landlord and the Registrar. I am not even sure that you would be allowed to present this there. I cannot find specific information on their various PDF files from your POV. Only from the Landlord POV.

I. Can parties bring witnesses for the mediation before the Registrar?

Yes, but it is not necessary. They can bring persons who are able to give relevant details of the claims for the purposes of settlement.


Anyway, here is the link you will need.

http://app.subcourts.gov.sg/sct/page.aspx?pageid=8617

There is a step by step process and after reading the linked page, be sure to click the 'checklist' and other relevant links on the left side menu. Lots of info there.

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Postby ksl » Sat, 27 Mar 2010 12:51 pm

List of things to be fixed has been agreed upon by the owner during the handoff -
He cannot claim any more than is on the handover list which he signed! Take it to the small claims, it's a simple procedure and who the hell needs a lawyer, when its in black and white and signed by him.

He cannot just change his mind and start adding things, to justify not paying back the deposit. Yes they do take wear and tear into consideration, but if you have also signed the handover paper, you may have a problem. It will be arbitrary proceedings.

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Daily rental when the issues are fixed?

Postby visitanamika » Sun, 28 Mar 2010 7:50 pm

Is there a basis for a daily rental during the time the issues are fixed (owner claims it as rent that is lost)? I find this most ridiculous especially when it is not there in the contract.

Thanks.

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Re: Daily rental when the issues are fixed?

Postby ksl » Mon, 29 Mar 2010 7:52 pm

visitanamika wrote:Is there a basis for a daily rental during the time the issues are fixed (owner claims it as rent that is lost)? I find this most ridiculous especially when it is not there in the contract.

Thanks.
Owner cannot claim lost rental, after the official handover of the apartment. The deposit must be repaid within a time period. The repairs can be done even if it is rented out, so he's got no case at all, its all minor stuff, and when a tenant moves in, the tenant has a grace period to report all faults. He's bullshitting.

Small claims Court is the only way you can go.

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Re: Daily rental when the issues are fixed?

Postby x9200 » Mon, 29 Mar 2010 8:19 pm

ksl wrote:Owner cannot claim lost rental, after the official handover of the apartment.

As per general principle - why not? If the tenant handed over the apartment in not rentable condition?

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Filed the claim at SCT this AM..

Postby visitanamika » Mon, 29 Mar 2010 10:16 pm

Will drop a note on this forum on my learnings in the process.

Apt was definately in rentable condition - repairs were minor. Even otherwise, there is no framework for it in the contract. So, there should be no basis for daily rental.

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Re: Filed the claim at SCT this AM..

Postby x9200 » Tue, 30 Mar 2010 1:42 am

visitanamika wrote:Even otherwise, there is no framework for it in the contract. So, there should be no basis for daily rental.

The civil law is typically the basis in such cases. You are normally obliged to compensate for any damage arose from your behaviour.
Again, this was a question to ksl on GENERAL ground, not specifically pointing out to your case.

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Re: Filed the claim at SCT this AM..

Postby ksl » Tue, 30 Mar 2010 2:12 pm

x9200 wrote:
visitanamika wrote:Even otherwise, there is no framework for it in the contract. So, there should be no basis for daily rental.

The civil law is typically the basis in such cases. You are normally obliged to compensate for any damage arose from your behaviour.
Again, this was a question to ksl on GENERAL ground, not specifically pointing out to your case.


There is no specific rental laws in Singapore. Though it is my opinion that in GENERAL the courts would use commonsense based on property laws and also expect Landlords to do the same.....Unless there is significant basis for the apartment not to be rented out because of damage, the Landlord is in his right to refuse the handover, until the damage is repaired in which he would be in his right to claim rental while repairs were being done.

He wouldn't and shouldn't accept the handover until all repairs had been done.

It is the landlords fault if anyones. not the tenant :wink:

In the case of any contractual handover, it is a final declaration, that the landlord/tenant accepts what is, as is on that date.

To run after the bus after its left doesn't make a great deal of sense either especially in Singapore.

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Re: Filed the claim at SCT this AM..

Postby x9200 » Wed, 31 Mar 2010 7:22 pm

ksl wrote:
x9200 wrote:
visitanamika wrote:Even otherwise, there is no framework for it in the contract. So, there should be no basis for daily rental.

The civil law is typically the basis in such cases. You are normally obliged to compensate for any damage arose from your behaviour.
Again, this was a question to ksl on GENERAL ground, not specifically pointing out to your case.


There is no specific rental laws in Singapore. Though it is my opinion that in GENERAL the courts would use commonsense based on property laws and also expect Landlords to do the same.....Unless there is significant basis for the apartment not to be rented out because of damage, the Landlord is in his right to refuse the handover, until the damage is repaired in which he would be in his right to claim rental while repairs were being done.

Let me disagree :)
The common sense (and TA) typically tell that you should hand over the place in usable/rentable condition by the end of the tenancy period. If the place is not ready it is typically the tenant fault, right? Why landlord should allow more time to have it fixed unless agreed differently?
Handing over only means taking control over the property and not accepting the condition at the moment it is handed over. If your interpretation would be valid then actually there should be no cases of the withheld deposit.

He wouldn't and shouldn't accept the handover until all repairs had been done.

It is the landlords fault if anyones. not the tenant :wink:

It is nobody's fault. It is just an unfinished business :)

In the case of any contractual handover, it is a final declaration, that the landlord/tenant accepts what is, as is on that date.

Again, why then so many problems with the deposits? It should be a single question decision by any court: was the place handed over - yes! Geme my money! Granted! No further questions, thank you, your Honour

To run after the bus after its left doesn't make a great deal of sense either especially in Singapore.

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Postby k1w1 » Thu, 01 Apr 2010 9:38 pm

You definitely can take this to small claims court. As KSL said, he cannot add things after the handover is done! It has been signed and agreed to, and he has 14 days to return the deposit from that date.

You may find just the threat of small claims court is enough. I did this once and got my money in 24 hours. I also have colleagues who paid a lawyer $100 to write them a letter claiming their deposit was being unlawfully with-held and they'd claim the legal fees too. They got their money back immediately.

It's too late for this now, but I've also heard you're much better off just not paying the last month's rent.

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Postby ksl » Fri, 02 Apr 2010 5:49 pm

X9200:Let me disagree


You are more than welcome to disagree, it would be your loss and not mine, if dealing with a landlord. :wink: When it comes to property and contracts, i have learned from the 10 years of military housing contracts, how to conduct a check in and a check out to very high standards. That no realtor, agent or civilian tenant could envisage.

Knowing the difference between clean and dirty or fair wear and tear, and damage is a skill of good hygiene using the products available and experience of DIY and elbow grease a handover can easy take 3 to 5 days of preparation if you have taken a brand new property over for 2 or 3 years and you have to hand it over in the same new condition. The deposit is there to ensure the property is handed back in the same condition less fair wear and tear. Which the landlord cannot subtract from the deposit. That is paid for in the rental.

Log everything on check in.....that way you do not leave yourself open to abuse by the landlord no matter how friendly he/she appears.


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