tenancy dispute (i'm the landlord) - advice needed

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JR8
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Post by JR8 » Sun, 19 Jun 2011 7:20 pm

x9200 wrote:I believe the whole strict procedure about eviction is regarding the eviction itself so enforced removal of the tenants property. This has not happened in this case. What we have IMO here is just a note (we can call it whatever we want) given by the LL. If this note was valid as per formal requirements the LL could have proceeded with the actual eviction (giving sufficient time and fulfilling some other requirements). If it was invalid the tenant could have just ignored this. The only case I could see here if the tenant felt threatened by the note or had reasons to believe it is was valid but as this guy has a legal background this is not the case.

I would do what beppi suggested with the exception I would not resend the cheque but include the information where it can be collected.
http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/HomeAndComm ... /DG_189123
For anyone interested in how it works in the UK, the above page summarises it. The notice does have to be in a prescribed format, and as the website says 'For many tenancies, the notice you give must be in a particular form which includes certain information and warnings. You can obtain a standard form of notice to quit from legal stationers.'

I understand that things get far more complex if the tenant refuses to vacate and you have to go to court to get them evicted. However, this is UK law, and I think for Taxico it would be useful to get a definitive answer as to whether his notice was valid or not under SG law.

p.s. In the UK I understand eviction is done by a court appointed bailiff. As a landlord I would not touch a tenant's possessions - that's just opening a whole can of works for claims for alleged loss and damages etc...


QRM. The process of eviction in the UK is a fraught one. Six months is probably about normal (6-8 months), during which you can kiss your rent good-bye, the tenant is untouchable, and your property is likely not being respected.

The funny thing with the Brazilian I mentioned was she rented the flat via Foxtons (probably the largest estate agent in west London), and they were so gagging to get their hands on the letting commission that they did not convey to the owner any doubts about the tenant's credibility (the owner never met the tenant)!

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Post by QRM » Sun, 19 Jun 2011 7:28 pm

JR8 wrote:
The funny thing with the Brazilian I mentioned was she rented the flat via Foxtons (probably the largest estate agent in west London), and they were so gagging to get their hands on the letting commission that they did not convey to the owner any doubts about the tenant's credibility (the owner never met the tenant)!
Yup it was Foxtons as well for my Tenant, they said she was a previous foxtons client and they looked though her bank statements etc. all BS to get their greasy mits on the commissions, and once there is an issue, its not their problem. Which is why its never just an Estate agent its always a F-ing estate agents.

Never rent to students even if their parents are mega wealthy and pay the rent up front, and never rent to private "self-employed " people.

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Post by JR8 » Sun, 19 Jun 2011 8:23 pm

QRM wrote: Yup it was Foxtons as well for my Tenant, they said she was a previous foxtons client and they looked though her bank statements etc. all BS to get their greasy mits on the commissions, and once there is an issue, its not their problem. Which is why its never just an Estate agent its always a F-ing estate agents.

Lol. Ah so you are familiar with Foxtons too I see! Probably the most aggressive and voracious estate agent in the UK. The wonder is they are so big, and that that is largely due to them valuing stuff higher than anyone else, so people get overtaken by their own greed and instruct them.

Never rent to students even if their parents are mega wealthy

Under-grads, yes agreed. I currently have a place let to two Swedish brothers who were doing their MBA's at the business school in Regent's Park. Their mother pays the rent semi-annually in advance. They moved in girlfriends but otherwise they have been good as gold (touch wood). Reckon they must be in employment now as they're been in there over 2 years...


and pay the rent up front, and never rent to private "self-employed " people.


I once had a prospective tenant c. late 90's who was either Russian or Estonian. She must of been having a heck of a job finding finding a place as in desperation she offered me 6 months rent upfront. I chose another tenant as back then referencing someone (esp. a student) from the former eastern block was almost impossible. At the end of the day if you can run decent references on a prospect you should be alright, even if they don't tick all the boxes in an orthodox way.

p.s. re: getting workmen into your Russian's flat, yes I can imagine their willingness. A friend of mine viewed the Brazilians flat (inexplicable being re-let via Foxtons!) just before she left. He told me that he was rather taken aback to be viewing the property with the agent, and for the Brazilian and her friends to be wondering around without a care in the world in nothing more than underwear! Oh and he also told me that one of the bedrooms had a massage table set up in it.

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Post by taxico » Sun, 19 Jun 2011 9:57 pm

i have read all the replies and i will consider all the advice given in this thread during my discussion with my lawyer tomorrow morning.

this afternoon, over coffee, i've decided to return the tenant the full deposit with a letter stating that the unit was not up to spec (unlike what was claimed by the tenant/tenant's lawyer) but i will absorb the amount in order to settle matter AND that i did not evict my tenant.

if that does not work (especially $ wise), i'll have to resort to being nasty and will have to foot the bill for whatever is to come.

my thanks to everyone who has given an input to this thread - i'll update it when i hear from my/his lawyers...

and the util accounts are in my name as i thought it would be easier for non-Singaporeans to start their lives in the apartment. there is no illegal activity going on as it is not an HDB flat.

i felt that as long as the bills are paid, it doesn't matter - i guess i might be too trustful and this is not a good thing as a landlord.
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Post by JR8 » Sun, 19 Jun 2011 10:21 pm

taxico wrote: this afternoon, over coffee, i've decided to return the tenant the full deposit with a letter stating that the unit was not up to spec (unlike what was claimed by the tenant/tenant's lawyer) but i will absorb the amount in order to settle matter AND that i did not evict my tenant.
I'd suggest holding that decision until after you see the lawyer tomorrow. Another day will make no difference.

Noted re: the utilities. Sorry, it made no sense to me how them being in your name would work, but now I see your logic.

Good luck!

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Post by beppi » Sun, 19 Jun 2011 10:33 pm

I agree, don't decide anything without asking the lawyer first!
If you do what you just wrote, it will (perversely) have the opposite effect: The other party sees that you react to pressure by offering more - thus surely they will get even more by applying even more pressure!

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Post by carteki » Mon, 20 Jun 2011 11:43 am

Personally I don't think that you should repay the deposit. As much as you have agreed to do so, they have up'ed the ante by suing you. At a minimum you should return by saying you'll repay the deposit (less expenses) if they sign an agreement forfeiting all future rights/claims in this matter.

I'm not sure what is in place in Singapore re the eviction notice, but in my mind the tenant lost all his rights on this point when he decided to move out Remember he paid you a partial months rent as a sign of his intention to move out. That is the crux of the matter. If he planned to fight the eviction then he should've stayed put and acted like he was going to stay like continuing to pay rent.

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Post by CSI_Fan » Tue, 21 Jun 2011 3:43 pm

I didn't go through every reply above, but I can share with you my personal experience. :)

I had a similar tenant before. My BN unit and the false ceiling was coming off, marble had wine stains, air con was fully choked and leaking...all within 9 months of rental. BN unit. I didn't even live in it prior. He also had a GF who was not listed in the contract (seriously, I think many tenants dun list their GFs/BFs, coz pple do change GFs/BFs....and then how? tell u that the GF/BF is now someone else? haha). It's ok to me as long as the unit is returned nice and clean. Walls need not be pristine clean...but clean. Tenant was NEVER on time with rental payment and even when he did pay, the amount was NEVER the correct full amount. It was always in some strange figure (eg. rent was $2000, payment would be $700, then $500 one week later, then $600, then $200).

Anyway, tenant didn't fix anything. We had to get the false ceiling fixed immed otherwise it may just well collaspe on anyone in that unit. Then becomes whose fault? So I had it fixed, and deducted from the security deposit. along with everything else that needed fixing. After all the deductions, he would have a few hundreds left. But he served us a writ for the FULL deposit amount (he's accounting trained with a minor in Law - do such pple think that they are great just coz they have some law degree somewhere?) and so we had to defend it. To cut it short, the case went on to mediation where at mediation, the tenant received quite a bit of scoldings from the judge (or is it called mediator?). In the end, we were told to keep the deposit (no need to refund him even the balance). If tenant wants to pursue further and take it to trial, tenant is very likely to lose and we can sue with costs (legal fees plus loss of rental). So case ended with the lawyer being very happy. :)

For your case, utilities, you really should have just transferred utilities to the tenant. It is much cleaner in that way. Do it that way for the next tenant. :) It is as easy for a foreigner to open a utilities account, as it is for a local to do so. No difference. They just need to be able to put up the deposit. If unable to do so, I would be wondering if the tenant can pay rental as well (utilities deposit amt is less than rental). You are too nice to the tenant, to think of making it easier for them to start their lives in the apartment. :) But bottom-line (sorry, but I think this is life), you have to protect your own interests first (without being unreasonable of course). You think for the non-SG tenants, who thinks for you? :)

Your wife does not think you should pay him a cent more than the $2,900+ as we did nothing wrong. I agree. "in fact, we should be holding onto his deposit and a month's rent for the time we waited for him to fix the place up, as well as our next agent's commission." I also agree. That's what we did in my case. We were issued with a writ, we had to defend it and we countered with our own writ. It is costly to defend a writ, but that bugger issued one at us first, we had no choice but to defend. :(

Hope your lawyers can advise you properly (and not on the basis of wanting to make $$ from this episode).

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Post by taxico » Fri, 01 Jul 2011 1:19 pm

the second lawyer i spoke to did not own his own firm (well, his name was not on the firm's name) and advised that i retain him and write a strongly worded letter before they file a claim against me.

as i mentioned earlier, i had decided to give my tenant his full deposit, minus what he owed for utils, and i did so through writing a letter by myself instead of using a lawyer.

in the event that my offer is rejected, i intended to appoint the second lawyer and go ahead with a (counter-)claim for breach of the agreement.

however i just got a reply from my tenant's law firm that my offer was accepted so for me this case can be considered closed.

thanks to everyone who have given their input to this thread. i'm glad i don't have to think about this issue anymore and i'm a little wiser now...

my only regret is that my first lawyer friend may have felt that i was being unreasonable despite his free help.
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Post by beppi » Fri, 01 Jul 2011 1:56 pm

Typical case of more bark than bite (on the part of the errant tenant, not you). Congratulations for solving this!

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Post by carteki » Fri, 01 Jul 2011 3:11 pm

Thank you for giving us feedback - its always useful to find out the end of the story.

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Post by JR8 » Fri, 01 Jul 2011 4:05 pm

Well done. Sticking with basic decent principles rarely goes wrong (logically).

Don't hold too much of a grudge over the circumstances, landlording is not usually such a pain.
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