New owner raises our rent - Legal or illegal?

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12daystudio
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New owner raises our rent - Legal or illegal?

Post by 12daystudio » Thu, 28 Jun 2012 8:57 pm

We signed a one year lease when we secured our apartment. We’re now 4 months in and we just received a letter that the unit was sold and that the new owners have increased our rent effective immediately. After getting over the shock, we reviewed our tenancy agreement, but it doesn’t seem to contain any language that a new landlord/owner can do this. We also tried calling our agent who is away right now. Since our rent is due in 1 week, it is quite urgent.

From what we could see online, this isn’t legal as our lease and rental price agreement should be valid for the duration of the lease. Does anyone know if this is the case? If so, should we write back to the new owner stipulating this? There isn’t a phone number, just an address for the new owner (note that the notice was sent from a lawyer’s office: Aegis LLC). Or will I have to engagement a property lawyer?

Any guidance/tips would be greatly appreciated.

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Re: New owner raises our rent - Legal or illegal?

Post by JR8 » Fri, 29 Jun 2012 1:26 am

12daystudio wrote:We signed a one year lease when we secured our apartment. We’re now 4 months in and we just received a letter that the unit was sold and that the new owners have increased our rent effective immediately. After getting over the shock, we reviewed our tenancy agreement, but it doesn’t seem to contain any language that a new landlord/owner can do this. We also tried calling our agent who is away right now. Since our rent is due in 1 week, it is quite urgent.

From what we could see online, this isn’t legal as our lease and rental price agreement should be valid for the duration of the lease. Does anyone know if this is the case?

Assuming that you have a typical fixed term and fixed rent Tenancy Agreement they cannot do this. The rent and term are as originally agreed and cannot be varied unless both parties consent. The fact that there is a new owner is irrelevant to that position.


If so, should we write back to the new owner stipulating this? There isn’t a phone number, just an address for the new owner (note that the notice was sent from a lawyer’s office: Aegis LLC). Or will I have to engagement a property lawyer?Any guidance/tips would be greatly appreciated.

It sounds like your new landlord is a real prize one, what a charming way to introduce yourself to your tenants! There is no need to engage a lawyer. The fact that they have used a lawyer, rather than their own agent or indeed writing directly suggests that they intend to really rattle your cage, so one option is simply to ignore them, as they won't be expecting that (I have done this before with a lawyer attempting the shock-and-awe opening salvo on me). That shows them that you're not rattled, gives you a chance to speak to your agent when he gets back, and means the landlord will have to pay for another exchange of lawyers letter if and when they follow it up.

If they do follow it up (and for the time being we're considering this without the benefit of any advice from your agent) then simply ask them on what basis they are asserting a right to summarily review a rent 4 months into a 12 month contract. As it is they who are making such a claim it is up to them to justify the basis for it.

I wouldn't sweat this issue too much if I were you. What would worry me more though is that on the face of it your new landlord is a real prize a-hole if he thinks he can treat people in this way and get away with it.

p.s. I was interested with your comment about rent increase with 'immediate effect'. Was immediate effect from the date of the letter, or from the next rent date. Do they state the supposedly revised rent and the date from when it is due?

Please keep us updated on how it goes.




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Re: New owner raises our rent - Legal or illegal?

Post by x9200 » Fri, 29 Jun 2012 4:39 am

JR8 wrote:
12daystudio wrote:We signed a one year lease when we secured our apartment. We’re now 4 months in and we just received a letter that the unit was sold and that the new owners have increased our rent effective immediately. After getting over the shock, we reviewed our tenancy agreement, but it doesn’t seem to contain any language that a new landlord/owner can do this. We also tried calling our agent who is away right now. Since our rent is due in 1 week, it is quite urgent.

From what we could see online, this isn’t legal as our lease and rental price agreement should be valid for the duration of the lease. Does anyone know if this is the case?

Assuming that you have a typical fixed term and fixed rent Tenancy Agreement they cannot do this. The rent and term are as originally agreed and cannot be varied unless both parties consent. The fact that there is a new owner is irrelevant to that position.


If so, should we write back to the new owner stipulating this? There isn’t a phone number, just an address for the new owner (note that the notice was sent from a lawyer’s office: Aegis LLC). Or will I have to engagement a property lawyer?Any guidance/tips would be greatly appreciated.

It sounds like your new landlord is a real prize one, what a charming way to introduce yourself to your tenants! There is no need to engage a lawyer. The fact that they have used a lawyer, rather than their own agent or indeed writing directly suggests that they intend to really rattle your cage, so one option is simply to ignore them, as they won't be expecting that (I have done this before with a lawyer attempting the shock-and-awe opening salvo on me). That shows them that you're not rattled, gives you a chance to speak to your agent when he gets back, and means the landlord will have to pay for another exchange of lawyers letter if and when they follow it up.

If they do follow it up (and for the time being we're considering this without the benefit of any advice from your agent) then simply ask them on what basis they are asserting a right to summarily review a rent 4 months into a 12 month contract. As it is they who are making such a claim it is up to them to justify the basis for it.
I wonder .... what is the legal binding of the new owner to the TA. Is there some specific law forcing her/him to fulfill someones else obligations?

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Re: New owner raises our rent - Legal or illegal?

Post by JR8 » Fri, 29 Jun 2012 4:47 am

x9200 wrote: I wonder .... what is the legal binding of the new owner to the TA. Is there some specific law forcing her/him to fulfill someones else obligations?

Maybe it comes down to being granted a right to occupy for say 12 months is not altered by who owns the property*? So it is not a case of being forced to fulfil someone else's obligations, rather it not being allowed to renege on them.

Don't know, I can look into it more though. Also, I don't know how the SG law translates from the English common law on this kind of thing...

Anyhowz, it is up to the landlord/lawyer to justify their position. Since they don't seem to have even tried to explain themselves, what I wrote in my previous stands for now as my opinion. (I'm saying that for the benefit of the original poster when he gets up this morning and reads the topic)

If that changes I'll be back! :)



* The right of occupation and rights from a TA are powerful things. This is why I wince when I read of landlord threatening to throw someone out. The strength of these rights are why a landlord cannot enter without permission or essential need, can't change locks, cannot remove possessions etc. A lot of landlords seem to think letting is giving people a right to stay in their property for a while, it's more than that, more the right to create and occupy their home without interference.

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Re: New owner raises our rent - Legal or illegal?

Post by x9200 » Fri, 29 Jun 2012 8:30 am

JR8 wrote:
x9200 wrote: I wonder .... what is the legal binding of the new owner to the TA. Is there some specific law forcing her/him to fulfill someones else obligations?

Maybe it comes down to being granted a right to occupy for say 12 months is not altered by who owns the property*? So it is not a case of being forced to fulfil someone else's obligations, rather it not being allowed to renege on them.

You probably mean something called or understood as protection of possession and I believe it is a pan-European thing. It translates to, that under majority of circumstances you have no right to violate someones possession even if it is not perceived as legal (this is only the court to decide whether it is legal or not, not you not even a policeman). This also include flat occupancy and it is a major source of all sort of problems for any landlord (you wrote about some of it below).
I am not sure if something like (or another one) is around. If not, an implication would be that the new owner has a full right to rise the rent or kick you out at any moment but the old owner would be still responsible for what he has promised to the tenant. The important part would be then to include the obligation to the tenant in the sales agreement and everything should work fine - is in it the way it is done in SIngapore?


Don't know, I can look into it more though. Also, I don't know how the SG law translates from the English common law on this kind of thing...

Anyhowz, it is up to the landlord/lawyer to justify their position. Since they don't seem to have even tried to explain themselves, what I wrote in my previous stands for now as my opinion. (I'm saying that for the benefit of the original poster when he gets up this morning and reads the topic)

If that changes I'll be back! :)



* The right of occupation and rights from a TA are powerful things. This is why I wince

Mostly In Europe I believe where the pro-consumer, socialistic law is blown out to some near-absurd sizes with the assumption that there is a need for a tenant to be protected as the weaker party.

when I read of landlord threatening to throw someone out. The strength of these rights are why a landlord cannot enter without permission or essential need, can't change locks, cannot remove possessions etc. A lot of landlords seem to think letting is giving people a right to stay in their property for a while, it's more than that, more the right to create and occupy their home without interference.

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Post by Saint » Fri, 29 Jun 2012 8:45 am

Do you have this clause written in your TA?

"(l) During the currency of this tenancy, to allow the Landlord or its representative at all reasonable times and by prior appointment to bring any interested parties to view the said premises in the event of a prospective sale thereof. The said premises shall be sold subject to this tenancy."

Also having paid the Stamp Duty (I hope you did) this makes the TA a legally binding agreement in the eyes of the Singapore Gahmen so don't paid the extra rental amount and just keep on paying the amount as per your TA. In my experience, the new owner has bought the premises to live in and is trying to get you out early. Contact your agent even though overseas, SMS even so the situation is made clear and say if no response you will have to call the CEA to get advice.

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Post by nakatago » Fri, 29 Jun 2012 9:14 am

Ditto on standing your ground.

Don't most tenancy agreements have clauses that in the even of a sale, the new owners would/should honor the existing agreements?
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Post by Saint » Fri, 29 Jun 2012 9:58 am

nakatago wrote:Ditto on standing your ground.

Don't most tenancy agreements have clauses that in the even of a sale, the new owners would/should honor the existing agreements?
Like what I quoted above?

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Post by x9200 » Fri, 29 Jun 2012 10:19 am

nakatago wrote:Ditto on standing your ground.

Don't most tenancy agreements have clauses that in the even of a sale, the new owners would/should honor the existing agreements?
Yes, but this is IMHO still binding the old owner only. More over, this clause may be IMO pretty redundant and serves only as a note. It would be good to know what are really the legal implications of such sale. What we do here is speculation only based on our interpretations of the TAs known to us.
Anyway, from purely practical POV I would definitely follow Saint's suggestion - contact the agent by any means. (S)He is here to clear or mitigate such mess.

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Post by nakatago » Fri, 29 Jun 2012 10:25 am

Yes, yes. Asking the question to emphasize the point.

I think it's the decent thing to do hence is put in most TA's instead of leaving tenants in a lurch (aka as "don't be an arsehole landloard" clause). Of course, it has been exhibited so many times that the local scene has a very different definition of what is an arsehole landlord.

It's like saying "just because it's legal, it doesn't mean you can do it."

#muchspeculation
#hitsclosetohome
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Post by Saint » Fri, 29 Jun 2012 10:39 am

x9200 wrote:
nakatago wrote:Ditto on standing your ground.

Don't most tenancy agreements have clauses that in the even of a sale, the new owners would/should honor the existing agreements?
Yes, but this is IMHO still binding the old owner only. More over, this clause may be IMO pretty redundant and serves only as a note. It would be good to know what are really the legal implications of such sale. What we do here is speculation only based on our interpretations of the TAs known to us.
Anyway, from purely practical POV I would definitely follow Saint's suggestion - contact the agent by any means. (S)He is here to clear or mitigate such mess.
As soon as you have the TA stamped it's a legally binding contract in the eyes of Singapore law including the transfer to new owner. A good friend of mine who's a lawyer confirmed that to me as I went through the same situation some time ago where my place was sold but I had no issues luckily.

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Re: New owner raises our rent - Legal or illegal?

Post by JR8 » Fri, 29 Jun 2012 3:49 pm

x9200 wrote: You probably mean something called or understood as protection of possession

Ah yes possession. Well that is an aspect of it. When you sell a property in England it is sold together with any rights and obligations up it, so that includes leases, rights of way, and so on.

For example if I had a house with a huge garden, and I agreed to lease the bottom half of the garden to a neighbour (perhaps so he could graze some sheep) for 10 years, then my selling up would not cancel that lease.




and I believe it is a pan-European thing. It translates to, that under majority of circumstances you have no right to violate someones possession even if it is not perceived as legal (this is only the court to decide whether it is legal or not, not you not even a policeman). This also include flat occupancy and it is a major source of all sort of problems for any landlord (you wrote about some of it below).


This is entering the realm of squatters rights.


I am not sure if something like (or another one) is around. If not, an implication would be that the new owner has a full right to rise the rent or kick you out at any moment but the old owner would be still responsible for what he has promised to the tenant. The important part would be then to include the obligation to the tenant in the sales agreement and everything should work fine - is in it the way it is done in SIngapore?


Yes you sell the property as being 'subject to a tenancy'. As the buyer you make darn sure you see a copy of the Tenancy Agreement as you will be bound by it and you want to be sure it is properly worded.

Mostly In Europe I believe where the pro-consumer, socialistic law is blown out to some near-absurd sizes with the assumption that there is a need for a tenant to be protected as the weaker party.


Yep agree with that hehehe. It was things like rent control and protected possession that almost killed the UK rentals market (and the mobility of the labour market) stone dead back in the 80's.


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Post by AjitS » Thu, 12 Jul 2012 5:14 pm

Would be really good if you can post the outcome.

Reason I ask is I seemed to have got a really good deal on my condo (compared to what other people in the same place are paying), however since I moved in the agent has been showing new buyers around, my thinking (wrong it may be) is that the landlord knew she was shelling and the fact that she has a 2 year tenant may make the property that little more appealing to prospective buyers so she was willing to lower my monthly rental.

But commence sense and decency would suggest new owner cant do this.

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Post by ScoobyDoes » Fri, 13 Jul 2012 3:54 pm

The apartment I was in was sold about a year after I moved in, with the original owner telling the new owner that I would move out when it was sold.

When I got a nice letter from the new owner's lawyer asking when I was moving I politely said 'At the end of my contract.'

That started a little discussion along the line of 'Yes I can, but you have to pay a portion of my moving costs, any agent fees and any rental difference on a unit of the same specification.'

We had a friendly chat when they came around the apartment, complaining about the previous owner and in the end we even extended our lease by another year, on a handshake.

Point is, in most cases the tenancy is carried over to new owners but you just have to state your case......and be friendly about it.
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