Possible Rental Scam - How to check ownership of a Condo

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nouveaulife
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Possible Rental Scam - How to check ownership of a Condo

Post by nouveaulife » Fri, 26 Oct 2012 6:06 pm

So, I placed an advert on Easy Roommates seeking a Master Bedroom. Someone called me, saying that she has a Master Bedroom in a condo unit. She said that there are only 3 rooms. Her son (a university student) lives in one, she lives in the Master Bedroom, and there is another common room. If I want the Master Bedroom, then she can "shift" to the common room and let me stay in the Master Room.

So we scheduled an appointment for today. She said that any time would do because she would be at home all day.

So I went to see the place, and became a little suspicious. My suspicion is that this person may not be the owner, but the maid.

The Condo is just a few bus stops away from Boon Lay MRT. It looks nice.

However, after I rang the bell, and saw the person who opened the door, I fully expected her to go get her Madam - she has the look and perhaps also the demeanor of a maid, not someone who owns a Condo apartment. She was the only one at home.

So, I was shown the kitchen, the living room (first floor), and then shown the Master Bedroom upstairs. The Master Bedroom is SPACIOUS, not only does it come with a bedroom, its attached bathroom, but ALSO, it comes with two smallish rooms. They are all mine.

So then we went downstairs to discuss the rent. She asked if I will be moving in alone. I said yes. She said that $1500 would do. I was in disbelief. I had been searching for housing for more than a week at this point and I know that a Condo Master Bedroom would usually cost more than $2000.

She said she was from Myanmar, studied engineering for one year at NUS and is now working as a consultant for Land Transport Authority, and is working on a new MRT project. Her son is studying business management.

She then said that I can move in on Nov 1st, and that I can stay here for initially 1 month before deciding whether to continue living here. She said it was because she was not sure if I would be ok with her son occasionally making some noise during the night - on Fridays or Saturdays, he might come home late at early hours with his friend.

She said there was no need to sign anything. But that if I wanted anything to be signed, she would be ok with it too.

Then she asked: "Did you bring the deposit today"? I said "No, I didn't bring the deposit today. I need to go home and think about it. I may come back some other day with the deposit if I decide to rent the place. I may bring a check". She said "Ok, then let me give you my full name, and also my bank details so that you can transfer the money to my account if you want. I am going to SMS to you my full name and account details right now". She then took out an Iphone and sent the text (which I received).

Strange thing is that she is using a POSB savings account. I know for a fact that POSB is the only bank that offers account services to Work Permit holders (Maids, Construction Workers, etc). Shouldn't a Condo owner possess a more 'prestigious' bank account?

Her English was not very good. She spoke hesitantly and had some trouble expressing herself. But I am not a native speaker of English myself.

She also said that if I come back later to give her the money, I should call her in advance (because she might go somewhere else).

All in all, my suspicious is quite strong, mostly based on the following points:

1) Her look and demeanor
2) The rent is too good (to be true)
2) Her POSB bank account
3) She asked if I have the money with me (Owners are usually not in a hurry to snatch up the tenant, right?)

I suspect that the family is away for some period of time and she is pretending to be the owner and is trying to scam people for money.

What do you think? And most importantly, how can I check who the actual owner of a Condo apartment is?

Thanks!

Singapore Property Search

 

therat
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Post by therat » Fri, 26 Oct 2012 6:13 pm

Almost all Singaporean has a POSB account. Are you mean ALL local are Work Permit holders (Maids, Construction Workers, etc).

This is an insult.

:x

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Post by JR8 » Fri, 26 Oct 2012 6:23 pm

Call the condo management office and check the name. The owner needs CMO permission to sublet anyway.

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 26 Oct 2012 6:38 pm

nouveaulife, I suggest you get a life. I've been an expat here for 30 years and I've had a POSB account for all of them. In fact, I have three of them, DBS & Stanchart as well. You would do well in learning how not to alienate people. And, if you were to walk into my house, I always look like the gardener or handyman. Most of us who have no maids, do the chores ourselves to save a bob or two.

But, you can always check with URA, I believe, as well.
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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Post by nutnut » Fri, 26 Oct 2012 7:04 pm

You do sounds very arrogant in the above post, I wasn't going to answer you but.... Walk away!! If you don't walk away and you get ripped off then you're an idiot, simple as!

Oh, and I have a POSB savings account too, so have my last 2 landlords!

:roll: :roll: :roll:
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zzm9980
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Post by zzm9980 » Fri, 26 Oct 2012 7:06 pm

I think you're nuts OP. You just described half of Singapore. You think $1500 for a master bedroom in BOON LAY is a good deal?

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Post by nouveaulife » Fri, 26 Oct 2012 7:39 pm

I wasn't expecting such response to my post (but thanks for the suggestion about checking with the management/authorities).

So most Singaporeans have a POSB account - but it remains true that Work Permit holders can only open an account with POSB (so far as I know). My suspicious did not stem from one single factor alone anyway, but a combination of ones. Obviously I was not trying to insult POSB account holders!

Also I would like to add that she said "The maid is away today". That may very well be true (I know that some maids are given a day off), but it could also be true that the maid was not away :-)

I am sorry if I sound overly cautious in this case - it may very well be the case that she is the genuine owner. But I have been more on my guard this week since Darlene and Daniel from Craigslist tried to get me to rent their "apartment" because they are "relocated" to Michigan and London respectively, but subsequently became silent after I asked to see the place.

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 26 Oct 2012 7:55 pm

So you became suspicious because two renters were out of the country and this one was at home? Frankly, I'm beginning to believe that the potential landlords have more to worry about with the potential tenant. :roll:
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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Post by therat » Fri, 26 Oct 2012 9:06 pm

nouveaulife wrote:I wasn't expecting such response to my post (but thanks for the suggestion about checking with the management/authorities).

So most Singaporeans have a POSB account - but it remains true that Work Permit holders can only open an account with POSB (so far as I know). My suspicious did not stem from one single factor alone anyway, but a combination of ones. Obviously I was not trying to insult POSB account holders!
TS,

In one of your post, you mention you have stay in Singapore for 3 yrs under student pass.
Don't tell us that you don't know alot of people have POSB account

Are you trying to act innocent?

http://forum.singaporeexpats.com/sutra5 ... ht=#599673
I was studying in SG on Student Pass for 3 years during which time I acted as a guarantor for a PhD student from Africa who applied for a tuition fee loan from DBS.

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Post by offshoreoildude » Fri, 26 Oct 2012 9:49 pm

Subletting is a headache. I always preferred being the lead tenant and renting the whole unit then letting out rooms to avoid this scenario.
Now I'm called PNGMK

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Re: Possible Rental Scam - How to check ownership of a Condo

Post by taxico » Fri, 26 Oct 2012 10:37 pm

nouveaulife wrote:...too good (to be true)

What do you think? And most importantly, how can I check who the actual owner of a condo apartment is?
well, as they say, "if it's too good to be true..."

some condos have unusually clueless security guards or non-existent security.

you may ask to see their property tax assessment papers if they've not just purchased the place.

for the most accurate information: SLA's INLIS database which you pay $5 to use.

your property agent can also access this database for you through her company's subscription.

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Post by taxico » Fri, 26 Oct 2012 10:38 pm

SLA is singapore land authority (the real deal).

i don't know what INLIS stands for. information blah blah blah?

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Post by offshoreoildude » Sat, 27 Oct 2012 9:45 am

OP; You - although obviously a one eyed bigot and racist - have raised an important topic for potential tenants and it was one that worried in my earlier days in the little red spot.

A quick way in future is to ask to see the PUB bill (on the pretext of working out how much the contribution from your side will be). A current bill will show the name of the person who has had the power turned on - not the owner. If this persons name conflicts with the person you're speaking to - ask for the reason. The name should match either the lead tenant (if subletting a room), the owner (if the LL is doing the subletting or moving out) or maybe - if very recent - the last tenant if they've just moved out (however in this case it's not likely that the person you're speaking to can produce the bill). IF you're speaking to the lead tenants- ask if you can see a copy of the T/A (they may not agree if it shows the rental amount - in this case assure them they can redact that part). If you're speaking to an agent ask for their license no. (an agent will not be able to show the PUB bill in most cases). IF in doubt - move on - there have been a number of these scams. Most of these scams though involve cash - not traceable POSB accounts!

And - yes - due to time and market pressure most rental deals are sealed on the spot - i.e. - you look, like and then pay to secure it - all in an hour.

Although the other posters have opined that the CMO is interested in sub tenants and resident details this is not always the case. HOWEVER - the owner should legally be vetting all residents to ensure that there are no illegal tenants - at some point - someone should ask for your papers and this is your chance to do the same to them.

In my condo the management committee will not vet owners for tenants nor tenants for owners- we don't consider it to be our business or job and we have not authorized the property management company to release owners information to tenants either and we don't have onsite guards (one of my pet hats in Singapore - illiterate, useless condo guards). I'm an owner on my condo committee - all the other posters are impoverished tenants and HDB owners ;) SOMETIMES - if you look at the notice boards in the condo though - they will have AGM notices up etc with owners names. I discourage this though as it is a security risk.

All I can say is; 'eyes wide open'. It is a risk but you can ameliorate the risk with some foresight and proactive actions.
Now I'm called PNGMK

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Post by x9200 » Sat, 27 Oct 2012 10:02 am

offshoreoildude wrote:A quick way in future is to ask to see the PUB bill
Unless this would be somebody leaving the country with no intention to pay the bills and looking for a quick cash injection.

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Post by mudbaker » Mon, 29 Oct 2012 3:56 pm

why not just raise a request to see her IC / PR / EP or whatever pass she's holding, to confirm it's not the FDW pass?

i think in any tenancy agreement, both landlord and tenant need to confirm each other's pass validity anyway

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