Advice needed LOI and money changed hands then cancelled

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Bjfas
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Advice needed LOI and money changed hands then cancelled

Post by Bjfas » Tue, 19 Jul 2011 6:23 am

We were negotiating with an agent (very rude one by the way) for a studio at a building. We kept along for pictures before signing the letter of intent and a contract but she refused to do either insisting we sign first and send money or she wouldn't waist her time on us. We finally got some pictures after we explained there was no way we would do that without at Least seeing what the apartment looked like. Finally she sent pictures. We asked for a contract and the not only refused but also casually stated that the apartment we saw was no longer available and the LOI with the money would be for another studio same building. We requested pictures of the new place, she refused. We requested a contract she also refused and told us she would no longer work with us because we were "waisting her time" she did this about 3 times changing apartments and once didn't even tell us just changed it on the LOI. I think we were not asking for anything unreasonable but that's beside the point.

We are very pressed for time so we signed the letter of intent and paid the first month plus fee. This was about 3 weeks ago. Everything looked fine and in order but she still didn't send the contract yet. Today we received another of her casual emails (zero explanations or apologies like always) saying that the studio was no longer available (she gave us no reason) and that she was looking for another place for us in a building we did not want, for a timespan we did not agree upon, for more money and suggested we share it with other people which we explicitly told her we did not want to do in the very first contact with her this is why we got a studio.

My question is: I've seen through other forms that the LOI is not valid until money is exchanged in which time it becomes a legal binding document. Is this true? Is there anything we can do about it? We are really pressed for time as we are arriving in Singapore in less than a month and are afraid we wont have a place to stay. Plus we don't even know how to get our money back to look with other agents! Please any advice is welcome
BJ

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sundaymorningstaple
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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Tue, 19 Jul 2011 7:02 am

Cancel your check, get away from the agent asap. Then, once you get here, file a complaint against the agent as it sounds like an unlicensed agent. Run away as fast as possible.

Start here and don't waste any time doing so:

http://www.cea.gov.sg/cea/content/index.html
SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

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Re: Advice needed LOI and money changed hands then cancelled

Post by x9200 » Tue, 19 Jul 2011 8:39 am

@Bjfas, are you for real? You want to rent an apartment just seeing photos and then after the agent refuses to show the photos and acts rude you still stick to her? And later with all this you still sign LOI and pass the money (2 rentals!) and you are saying you are pressed by time yet you waited another 3 weeks doing nothing!? :shock:
1. LOI is worth nothing. At best it is an acknowledgement you passed the money.
2. If your money was cashed, immediately request your money back from the agent. Give her 24h for this. Tell her you report her to CEA (Sundaymorningstaple posted the link) and the police.
3. If it does not work report her to the above authorities, if it does work report her to CEA only.

For future:
1. Check if the Agent has the licence
2. If you don't like the agent immediately take another one
3. Be suspicious - the agents in Singapore is a professional group with one of the worst reputation
4. Very very often a single apartment is handled by many agents (legal or not) so if for some reasons you really want the place and don't like the agent check for the other agents offering it.
5. LOI is a smokescreen. It gives the landlord (LL) (lets assume s/he is an honest person) some false sense of security that the tenant to be is going to rent it and the tenant some false sense of security that the booking is valid and the LL will not rent to someone else behind the tenant's back.
6. With LOI you do not pass more money then 1 month rental. Many people will advise to pass no more than S$500.
7. After LOI is signed the TA should be signed within one week.

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Thanks for the advice

Post by Bjfas » Thu, 21 Jul 2011 6:18 am

@sundaymorningstaple: Thank you for the recommendation but weird as it sounds she was actually recommended by several other students (accountancies of ours) that have worked with this person in the past and we were warned about the rudeness but they all said this person delivered. Unfortunately not to us! This person is however licensed.

@x9200: I know the situation sounds weird but as I mentioned to sunday this person is a licensed agent recommended by other students and since we only have a 2 month stay in Singapore most agent´s aren´t even interested in looking for a studio at our price range so our options are few. We were told by the others that this is how this person worked, so this is why we went ahead as we did. The deal seemed done and over 3 weeks ago until we received that email telling us something had gone wrong. Thank you for point 6 and 7 they were useful.
BJ

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JR8
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Post by JR8 » Thu, 21 Jul 2011 1:06 pm

On a wider note, I'm curious how one can sign an LOI without seeing a draft contract. I mean how can you be expected to agree to enter into a contract that you have not seen (that might contain anything not specifically laid out in the LOI)?

Maybe this is part and parcel of the LOI being worthless to the tenant but a back-stop to the LL and ageent?

To the OP, I think your position vs the agent is probably irrecoverable. If possible get your money back and start again.

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Post by x9200 » Thu, 21 Jul 2011 3:42 pm

JR8 wrote:On a wider note, I'm curious how one can sign an LOI without seeing a draft contract. I mean how can you be expected to agree to enter into a contract that you have not seen (that might contain anything not specifically laid out in the LOI)?
This I think is not a problem because LOI does not require any contract at the time it is signed. As I see it and what I use LOI for is only to point to the specific issue that are typically non-standard or non-universal in the typical TAs. I.e. LL verbally agreed to repaint the walls, remove the ugly sofa, pay for aircon servicing, remove the lamp from the living room. I include this to the LOI as a memo from our meeting so there will be no surprise when related clauses are included to the TA.
LOI imposes no obligation to enter into a contract.

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Post by ausinsg » Fri, 22 Jul 2011 5:32 pm

You can check if the salesperson has a licence here.

http://www.cea.gov.sg/cea/app/newimplpu ... ister.jspa

You can click on a link and see their photo too. It should match with the estate agents card they have been required to carry since March of this year.

It also provides you with all the details about her you need to lodge a complaint.

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Post by ausinsg » Fri, 22 Jul 2011 5:45 pm

Send her a letter advising her that you wish to no longer have her represent you and you require her to return the monies paid to you. Give her a clear and reasonable timeframe to achieve this. Say 5 working days.

Inform her that failure to address your concerns will result in you lodging a complaint with CEA. Also advise her that under their Dispute Resolution Scheme, she and her agency are required to participate.

Point out that you just want her to fulfill the conditions you mentioned previously, and her doing that is a better use of everyone's time.

She obviously is very busy and should be making money, so it is in her own interest to get you off her back, so she can spend her time on those who appreciate her working style! ;)

--

From CEA Press Release 24 Feb 2011:

Dispute Resolution Scheme
6 Consumers who are unable to obtain a satisfactory resolution with the Estate Agent in the event of a dispute have recourse to CEA’s Dispute Resolution Scheme. This was implemented on 3 January 2011. The key elements of the scheme are summarised in Annex C.


ANNEX C – CEA’S DISPUTE RESOLUTION SCHEME

Objective

To provide a cost-effective and expeditious means to resolve disputes between consumers and estate agents.

Scope

Covers disputes arising from or relating to the provision of estate agency work involving residential transactions, and where consumers have entered into the prescribed estate agency agreements from January 2011 onwards.

Procedures for Initiating Dispute Resolution Process

If consumer initiates it,
– Estate agent and salesperson(s) in dispute with consumer are required to participate. Failure to do so may constitute a contravention of the regulations;
– Choice of dispute resolution centre for mediation and arbitration shall be decided by consumer (see below for appointed centres);
– Consumer may choose to proceed to arbitration without going through mediation. Parties can only proceed for mediation once under this scheme.

If estate agent initiates it,
- Consumer may be asked to elect for mediation or arbitration. If consumer does not respond within the stipulated timeframe, estate agent may proceed to take legal action against the consumer.
Costs

Mediation – estate agent and consumer each pay 50%

Arbitration – estate agent pays minimum 50%; consumer pays maximum 50%; – actual apportionment to be determined by arbitrator; – arbitrator has discretion to order consumer to pay up to 100% of costs
incurred if claim is frivolous, vexatious or an abuse of process; – fees for legal representation are payable by respective parties.

Appointed dispute resolution centres

Appointed Mediation Centres

• Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE)
• Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers (SISV)
• Singapore Mediation Centre

Appointed Arbitration Centres

• Singapore Institute of Arbitrators (SIArb)
• Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers (SISV)

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Post by JR8 » Fri, 22 Jul 2011 9:02 pm

^^^+1 in every respect

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BillyB
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Post by BillyB » Fri, 22 Jul 2011 9:24 pm

She sounds like a typical agent here, and I agree, for one, with everyone x9200 states.

Firstly, I'd report her to the police, duly inform her of that and watch her squirm.

OP - you aren't the first, and you certainly won't be the last to experience the darker side of the SG property rental market. I think many people are getting misinformed with LOI's and up-front deposits without seeing a contract or even proof of ownership from the landlord. They know you are new to SG or unfamiliar with the way the rental market and agent commissions work and, like the lovely people they are, the agents exploit that.

A sticky on this would be useful as there are countless threads on this subject or similar, and there doesn't seem to be a definitive thread on here that is conclusive without having contradictory posts and replies.

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sundaymorningstaple
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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 22 Jul 2011 10:07 pm

Billy, Assemble all the relevant data in a single post like we did with the NS issue and a couple of other issues, like entrepass, etc. and let me know. I'll make a sticky out of it and Bob's yer uncle!

sms
SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

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