okay, i'm at my wit's end and before i take further action, i am seeking some opinions here first. i've been known to do stranger things...
my tenant moves into a newly renovated apartment (he's the first person in since a full renovation). Singapore PR. he's the only person on the authorized list of person on contract. we rented it to him below market rate because he's an asian bachelor with a "professional" job.
before he moved in he said his parents would visit occasionally and i said that's okay, because i knew how it felt to be working alone in a different country. he said his girlfriend working in jakarta would come visit sometimes too. i said that isn't a big problem (i mean, since she works, how long can she stay for?).
i told him i spent $800 (on professional cleaners) cleaning the new unit up before he moved in, so i want it cleaned before he returns it to me. he said YUP no problemo!
his girlfriend of very chinese origin came with him the day he moved in. his parents also stayed with him very regularly because his parents takes regular trips to singapore. his girlfriend, which he said works in jakarta, speaks not one word of indonesian (i can speak basic bahasa indonesian). she appeared to me, about as china chinese as it gets.
i do not know her visa status at this point.
when we were still on good terms, he told me he refused to pay his property
agent because he thinks it's too much money for too little work. he suckered the realtor into paying the stamp duty on his behhalf also, and of course his realtor was not reimbursed.
my wife wants him out because there are too many people living in one small apartment and at a price that was way below market rate. i don't really care because to me, rental income is rental income. but for my wife's sake, i served him an eviction notice. he and i met the following day and he pointed out to me (he has an external law degree), sentence by sentence, why my eviction notice is useless/invalid.
so i told him why my wife was displeased with him and that's the reason why we wanted him out, and then i said "okay, since the notice is not valid then don't worry about it and continue living here and i'll take care of my wife." it's only 10 more months and we'll NOT renew his lease.
he also explained that he wants to make his girlfriend a permanent part of his life, and that his parents are in singapore 3/4 of the year as they have a business here too... so i told him he should think about how to explain the regular presence of 3 people in his place (ie, throw more money in??!)
anyhow, so i went on my merry way, thinking he'll probably throw in a few hundred dollars and my wife will then stop fretting about 4 people living in a 2 bedroom apartment. problem solved! NOT!
his next rent payment was late by 7 days, and he leaves me a pro-rated cheque and a text message saying he's moving out in accordance with my notice because his father is forcing him to move - in 10 days' time!
i asked him (this conversation takes place through a logged messenger service) why did he not tell me earlier he was moving out and why did he make me go through the whole process of placating my wife when he KNEW much earlier that he was going to move?
he said it couldn't be helped - he didn't want to move but he's forced to. so he is moving with such short notice...
on the day he moved out, there was a lot of tension between my wife and his mother and his girlfriend, so i told him "let's sort it out between us." i took the meter readings (util accounts are in my name) and told him to be on his way first. then i took pictures of the whole unit and told him what needs to be done (cleaning, replacement of moldy curtains, etc).
he wanted his deposit back, but i told him if he cleans the place and fixes the problem, i'll give him his deposit back in cash and in full. if i did it, it will end up costing him more and it will not be fair to him.
i waited. no news. i also asked him out in hopes that we can sort it out between us men, every weekend, for 3 weeks (including the weekend he moved out), and he would agree to meet and then be uncontactable each time.
exactly 2 weeks later, he came around yelling and screaming asking to meet him with his deposit... so i told him NO GO. fix the problems and i'll give it to you immediately. we went through what i wanted fixing and he said he'll take care of it. before he left, i told him when he comes back to pick up his deposit, i'd like him to sign a receipt cum agreement that there will be no future claims from either party for any compensation, etc.
i gave him a copy of it (my folly). he said he'll look through it and promised to sort things out asap. he disappeared and did not respond to my text messages but sent instead his parents to harangue me the following week for the deposit back. NO DICE! fix the faults and you'll get it back!
they said i was unreasonable to expect the unit in brand spanking new condition - i told them the amount of wear in a span of 3 months is unacceptable, but what i wanted was a CLEAN unit, not a BRAND NEW unit. and i wanted 2 sets of ikea curtains (window blinds actually) replaced as they had left the window opened and mold set in. and i'll deduct the utils and return them the rest of their deposit. i took a brush and some soap and scrubbed the bathroom to show them that the grot and dirt left behind CAN come out.
so they left without their money, hissing and snarling. i made it clear to them i don't have a problem with the wear and tear. the unit was dirty and there were some damaged items which cost less than $150 to replace. clean it! change it! get your deposit back!
the unit was left vacant for 1 month while i waited for him to return with people to fix it up. then it took another week or 2 to fix (at my expense first), before a new tenant was found another week or 2 later.
2 weeks after the meeting with his parents, the tenant's lawyer sent me a letter demanding tens of thousands of dollars as compensation (rent x 9 months + all sorts of costs) for "evicting him."
my lawyer friend advised me to just return the deposit, minus whatever he owes me (to invclude proof like receipts) and consider the matter closed.
the deposit was $3,600 - cleaning and repair and what not came up to nearly $700 (most of the money was spent on the cleaning - and i did not charge my tenant the full sum i've spent rectifying the apartment).
so i returned $2900'ish to him via my lawyer friend. some weeks later, a reply came along with my original cheque for $2,900'ish, saying that the unit was returned to me the same exact condition the tenant received it so no amount is to be deducted from his deposit, and if i wanted to settle this matter, all i have to do is to pay them a sum of $6,000 to compensate him for: his relocation fees, 2 property agents' commission + 2 stamp duties (my place and his new place).
i was really annoyed. even if i were to pay him, i should only be paying for ONE agent and ONE stamp duty. and he didn't even pay his previous agent! (i confirmed this just yesterday) my calculations for his move and one set of agent + stamp duty came up to a sum of a little over $4,500.
my lawyer friend has absolved himself from this case as he's a corporate lawyer and not versed with such trivial disputes. he thinks i should pay and consider a matter resolved - if i hired a lawyer it will cost me more than $6,000. but he does not believe it will reach any court.
this lawyer friend also thinks he can probably counter with a much lower offer (low end of $3k) and that the other party will, in all likelihood, accept it. but i was so annoyed at the situation that i inadvertently pissed him off (the lawyer friend) so he no longer wants to get involved with this matter.
my parents had the same advice for me. just pay him and get on with life. $6,000 is sum that i can afford but my angry wife asks me why we should pay him a single dime when we were not at fault?
i have an appointment with another lawyer on monday morning - he's a colleague of ANOTHER lawyer friend of mine. this consultation and his advice is free. he will however charge me if i want him to pursue the case on my behalf.
we spoke over the phone today and he thinks that for $6,000 he can PROBABLY get the situation resolved with some change to spare (him or me?).
before that happens, i wanted to know if anyone here has any good advice for me. this is the first time i'm in the position of a landlord in singapore and he is my first tenant.
the lawyer i will be seeing on monday thinks that the tenant has breached the contract by bringing his girlfriend into the apartment. and that if the tenant has done nothing wrong, why did he move?
however i DID give verbal consent that he can let his girlfriend live there when she visits BUT i did not know it was on a permanent/semi-permanent basis (during the 3 months he lived there, she was there 95-98% of the time - it didn't appear to me she had any job in jakarta).
further, the only proof that my tenant did not want to move out (ie, i did not evict him) remains in my cell phone's text and messenger logs. the latest lawyer, until he sees it, is unable to answer me over the phone about how substantial such "proof" is in such a situation that will very unlikely reach the courts.
what my tenant has in his possession is an eviction notice from me which, although i have verbally withdrawn, seems to be their trump card.
my father says to throw the money at them and take it as a lesson learned. my first lawyer friend feels the same.
i've been mulling over this for 2 days and today i wonder if i should instead claim compensation from them, since i truly do not feel that i have evicted them or acted dishonorably in any way.
but i don't believe in punishing people in this manner - i think he will get his just deserts elsewhere. it shouldn't be at the expense of my time or money...
so what should i do on monday?
right now, i'm thinking of showing the lawyer all the documentary proof i have (i'm gonna have to print it out) and paperwork. if he thinks i have a case, i don't want any money - his law firm can have it all.
note: i may delete this post (the stuff written above) after some time, so please don't quote my post. just do a normal reply. thank you!