Another dodgy landlord story... advice please

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AnnaH86
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Another dodgy landlord story... advice please

Post by AnnaH86 » Thu, 02 Aug 2012 6:18 am

Our landlord signed a 1 year tenancy agreement with us without telling us the apartment was to be sold. 8 months into our lease, the apartment has been sold and we have been requested to move out for the new owner before our tenancy agreement has expired.

6 weeks after signing our lease, the apartment was put on the market without our knowledge and immediately we had viewers coming to our apartment constantly.

The clause in our agreement was that we would have to renegotiate our lease with a new buyer, unless they wanted to move in. The buyer wants to move in, so we are out with NO reperation.

Now, our landlord is trying to withhold our security deposit, saying the house needs repairs for "floor staining" (there is none) and because our floors have not been professionally cleaned using specialist cleaning products. The obligation to use professional floor cleaners is NOT in our tenancy agreement, but she is saying she will withhold our deposit because of cleanliness issues - including because our oven hadn't been cleaned when she bought buyers through. The requirement to do this was no made clear to use at any time. When I said asked her to show me there was floor staining, she changed tack saying the floors were "scratched" because she brought buyers through when my flatmate was in the process of moving out. There is NO visible floor scratching at any part of the house. It is as pristine as it was when we moved in.

Not to mention, the house has been sold as is and the buyers intend to heavily renovate. I'm of the mind she cannot take my security deposit to repair a house she no longer owns and to which there is NO damage anyway. She has specifically said our security deposit cannot be used as the last month of rent. I have no idea what to do.

Do I have legal recourse here? Between finding a new apartment unexpectedly and dealing with a landlord who refuses to answer my questions about the legal status of our deposit, I'm losing a significant amount of sleep.

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Post by curiousgeorge » Thu, 02 Aug 2012 7:05 am

Its all down to what is in the tenancy agreement and what you can prove (and to some degree, what the landlord can prove).

For the sale of the apartment, the Landlord is under no obligation to tell you that he is selling - but his access to show people around the apartment should be detailed in the tenancy usually in the form of "reasonable access". When my landlord sold, I told him it was only reasonable between 2pm and 6pm on Sundays, otherwise I wasn't going to be around.

Secondly, what happens when the Landlord sells should also be contained in the tenancy - what does yours say? In the absence of anything then I would imagine that at the minimum your tenancy guarantees peaceful enjoyment of the property, and the legal status of your tenancy is enforceable as it was endorsed by the government, right (you did pay stamp duty, didn't you?) The landlord can't simply terminate your tenancy. It transfers with the ownership to the new landlord, who has bought the apartment with a "sitting tenant" and the new owner bought it on that basis.

They may send a laywer's letter asking you to leave early - but there is no legal obligation to do so. Tell them you won't, as you were guaranteed a year in the tenancy. Or tell them you will, if the new owner refunds your entire deposit in advance and offsets the costs (removals) of moving early, or negotiate whatever arrangement is acceptable.

Along with the tenancy, the deposit should also transfer to the new owner. So you still have the same claim against the new owner in the future for the return of the deposit - that is the responsibility your new landlord has.

* The above advice is worth what you paid for it i.e. nothing. You should seek professional advice from a property lawyer.

Save everything they send you. If they verbally ask something, tell them to put it in writing or you consider it invalid. Save your texts and emails. Photograph the floors/walls/everything before moving in, and when you move out. Recovering deposits has been covered in these forums a million times.

You can always use the small claims process to recover your deposit, and if they "force" you out physically, then probably to recover lost money from finding a new tenancy early. But you'd be a fool to let them manipulate you out, it would require you to agree to terminate the tenancy early.

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Re: Another dodgy landlord story... advice please

Post by JR8 » Thu, 02 Aug 2012 7:26 am

AnnaH86 wrote:Our landlord signed a 1 year tenancy agreement with us without telling us the apartment was to be sold. 8 months into our lease, the apartment has been sold and we have been requested to move out for the new owner before our tenancy agreement has expired.

There is no need for you to do so unless the TA allows for notice as early as 8 months, you have 'tenure' (that is assuming that you have a formal signed tenancy agreement that has been stamped for stamp duty).

6 weeks after signing our lease, the apartment was put on the market without our knowledge and immediately we had viewers coming to our apartment constantly.

What a PITA! You actually were under no obligation to let them in though (refer > legal rights like 'Quiet Enjoyment'), though I understand that one tries to cultivate a cooperative relationship with one's landlord.



The clause in our agreement was that we would have to renegotiate our lease with a new buyer, unless they wanted to move in. The buyer wants to move in, so we are out with NO reperation.

That sound 'very interesting'. Your TA gives you rights to occupy the property per the terms of the TA. Just because the property has been sold, does not alter the rights that you have. Rather the property has been conveyed/sold together with your rights. It's tough luck if the new owner wants to move in, they can't, it's your home. They should have checked the status of your occupation (i.e. copy of your TA). In fact they almost certainly did and are just trying it on.



Now, our landlord is trying to withhold our security deposit, saying the house needs repairs for "floor staining" (there is none) and because our floors have not been professionally cleaned using specialist cleaning products.

The original landlord (OL) is no longer your landlord. The OL should have conveyed the TA plus your deposit to the new owner on the sale of the property. The property was sold to the new owner 'as is/as seen', it is not clear why the OL is still in this picture (apart from her wanting to keep your depo).


The obligation to use professional floor cleaners is NOT in our tenancy agreement, but she is saying she will withhold our deposit because of cleanliness issues - including because our oven hadn't been cleaned when she bought buyers through. The requirement to do this was no made clear to use at any time. When I said asked her to show me there was floor staining, she changed tack saying the floors were "scratched" because she brought buyers through when my flatmate was in the process of moving out. There is NO visible floor scratching at any part of the house. It is as pristine as it was when we moved in.

She's having a go isn't she, plain and simple. Wants to get as much out of you as possible. F****** bitch. Do you think that you have the energy or inclination to discuss this with a lawyer? A suitably powerful letter might get her off your back, and convey that you are not to be messed with, and could allude to what will happen if your depo is unreasonably withheld. Then deduct the lawyers bill off your rent (lol).


Not to mention, the house has been sold as is and the buyers intend to heavily renovate.

Well... you don't know that, and they might change their mind. So you can't rely on that. My advice .... stick to the bullet-proof facts that you have, and I think you have plenty of those.

I'm of the mind she cannot take my security deposit to repair a house she no longer owns and to which there is NO damage anyway. She has specifically said our security deposit cannot be used as the last month of rent. I have no idea what to do.

Yes I'm sure she has said that. If I were you right now I would not pay any further rent, whether you have one month left on your TA or more. At least until you have had advice and are on a surer footing.


Do I have legal recourse here? Between finding a new apartment unexpectedly and dealing with a landlord who refuses to answer my questions about the legal status of our deposit, I'm losing a significant amount of sleep.

Yes I understand that (been there done that a few times many years ago in London - Different country but SG tenancy law piggy-backs very closely on UK law so there is a lot of commonality). I think seeing a solicitor/lawyer would be an idea for you. There is even a property law clinic ('free') somewhere in SG though as a non-citizen I'm not sure it is pitched/available at you.

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Post by AnnaH86 » Thu, 02 Aug 2012 8:04 am

Our tenancy has been terminated under Clause 4(i) of our Tenancy Agreement which states:

"Should the premises be sold to a new buyer or be affected by En-Bloc redevelopment, it shall be lawful for the Landlord to determine this tenancy by giving not less than TWO (2) months advance notice in writing to the Tenant and refund the security deposit (free from interest) without prejudice to any right of action of the Landlord in respect of any breach of this agreement by the Tenant."

So, this is why she is now trying to find excuses as to how she can claim our security deposit, including saying "no one ever gets their full deposit back" etc etc.

HOWEVER, Clause 2(c) of our Tenancy Agreement states:
"....in the event of a sale of disposal of the said premises by the Landlord, the Tenant consents to the transfer of the security deposit to the new owner(s) of the said premises, and hereby agrees to release the Landlord from all obligations in respect of the security deposit."

As the apartment has been sold, surely Clause 2(c) comes into affect, given our tenancy is still viable until December.

Unless she has sold our apartment as a vacant possession (which seems likely, given I had to ask her about 3 months in to put on the advertisement that it was actually tenanted until December) but having paid stamp tax, that seems in direct breach of our tenancy agreement which is for one year. As the apartment is tenanted, surely Clause 2(c) applies.

We have gotten advice from a professional property law and TA expert and agent here in Singapore who we actually trust (expat family friend) but it looks like this one may end up in court. For a start, the Landlord won't give me the information which would determine who actually hold our security deposit legally. These clauses seem in conflict with each other, given the apartment has already been sold.


Any advice for good property lawyers? I feel this one will end up at Small Claims.

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Post by JR8 » Thu, 02 Aug 2012 8:29 pm

Nothing going right for me today on my PC (trying to do the Hotmail/Oulook upgrade!) but hope to be back later.

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Post by macaroonie » Thu, 02 Aug 2012 9:02 pm

I hear you and feel for you. Stay very calm, extremely calm, only then can you deal with the difficulties in front of you. It really does sound as though your previous landlord is just finding a way to keep your deposit. Do you have an agent who you dealt with to get this apartment. Can you get them involved to help you?

Is there a clause in your contract that says no deductions can be made from the deposit unless you are notified in writing and it has to be agreed with by you and the landlord? Most contracts have this and therefore it should prevent her from making any deductions from your deposit. I would certainly take this to the small claims tribunal or even get a good lawyer to help. I know it's a really tough time and i am sure you are losing sleep over it, but don't waste energy on stressing, use this energy to find a solution to get your deposit back and also to stay in this place (it is sold subject to tenancy so you don't have to move, they can't make you!)

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