Hellish Tenancy Experience in Singapore - Pt. 1


This is a blog post (part 1) describing my hellish experience as a renter in Singapore. If you’re a prospective renter looking to rent in Singapore, I hope this post helps with your tenancy experience.

I started my lease in Stars of Kovan, a short 300m walk away from Kovan MRT Station which is served by the Purple line. Its immediate vicinity is surrounded by eateries and a very busy thoroughfare - Upper Serangoon Road. During Covid, it was quite a nice place to live, but as things started opening up and places got busier, it became really noisy and busy. On top of that, its close proximity to Paya Lebar Airbase only made matters worse, close to a daily basis, fighter jets will take off from Paya Lebar Airbase during the afternoon and the noise is unbearable. The unit has windows facing East and North West with the unit exterior walls exposed to the Sun all day along the North facing wall, as a result, the unit is always warm when there’s no air-conditioning turned on. 2 years into my lease, it was time for me to move out.

The exit lease process in Singapore is not cheap. This is the list of things I had to do to prepare for my move out:

All up, the cost on top of rent was $1198 - close to 1/3 of a month’s worth of rent.

Following the move out, on Sunday 5th of August 2023, a handover process took place between the owner’s agent and myself where the agent goes through a checklist of item to verify that things are in good and working condition. At the time, while I was with the agent, it was amicable and I agreed mostly with her assessment.

At the conclusion of the handover inspection, she prepared a defects list with 3 items listed:

We both signed the paperwork and even had an amicable chat on the way out of the condo. Photo of the Handover Report

Unfortunately, things took a turn in the following days… On Wednesday, 9th of August 2023 - while I was at work, my nightmare begun… The following is the whatsapp conversation that took place (with the agent’s name redacted)

[9/8/23, 13:39:13] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: ‚Äé<attached: 00000105-PHOTO-2023-08-09-13-39-13.jpg>
[9/8/23, 13:39:40] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: Hi Ren, I only managed to find this photo from our previous conversation.
[9/8/23, 13:39:59] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: For the living room stain on the floor, I can't find any record previously
[9/8/23, 13:43:55] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: If you have record, pls forward me. Because I don't have any record to proof the stain exist when handover to your
[9/8/23, 13:46:40] Renlord: ‚Äé<attached: 00000109-PHOTO-2023-08-09-13-46-40.jpg>
[9/8/23, 13:47:05] Renlord: If not clear I can send you a high resolution
[9/8/23, 13:47:22] Renlord: ‚Äé<attached: 00000111-PHOTO-2023-08-09-13-47-22.jpg>
[9/8/23, 13:47:50] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: Do you have any record for the communication with me about that stain?
[9/8/23, 13:48:17] Renlord: I dont have my WhatsApp history.
[9/8/23, 13:48:43] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: 27th August was after handover
[9/8/23, 13:49:04] Renlord: In any case I didn’t cause this.
[9/8/23, 13:49:15] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: I need a proof during handover or before, that stain was there already
[9/8/23, 13:51:36] Renlord: Photo is the condition during the guarantee period. I don’t think I made a fuss since I don’t bother so much.
[9/8/23, 13:51:43] Renlord: Anyways. I didn’t cause that damage.
[9/8/23, 13:58:26] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: Hi Renlord, I don't have record for the stain, also don't have communication to proof that stain exist before or on handover.

I need to inform the landlord, the let you know the reply from the landlord.
[9/8/23, 13:58:47] Renlord: Ok.
[9/8/23, 13:59:09] Renlord: Didn’t you check when the previous tenant move out?
[9/8/23, 14:02:03] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: I have checked the handover record with previous tenant, don't have stain.
[9/8/23, 14:05:11] Renlord: Anyways you can communicate to landlord saying that the stain on the tile is not my fault.
[9/8/23, 14:05:49] Renlord: The photo was taken 27th of August 2021  it is evident it’s quite recent relative to when I moved in.
[9/8/23, 14:06:20] Renlord: Since the whole place is more or less unfurnished. I’m personally unfussy so I didn’t bother to raise the defect.
[9/8/23, 14:08:48] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: 27th August was after you move in, handover date was 4th August.

And there is no record that you report this stain. 

I will let the landlord know. üòä
[9/8/23, 14:09:42] Renlord: Sure
[9/8/23, 14:58:22] Renlord: anyways, you can forward the correspondence to the landlord and then you let me know what the landlord says and what they want. Then we discuss further.
[9/8/23, 15:36:12] Renlord: you should let the landlord know that is not a stain, it looks like a patched hole in the tile
[9/8/23, 15:36:31] Renlord: you might have to go in and have another look
[9/8/23, 15:36:59] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: I just went in and touch it.
It is not a hole, it is a stain. üòä
[9/8/23, 16:27:51] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: Will get a contractor for a quotation and get it repair
[9/8/23, 16:28:20] Renlord: I’ll get my own contractor
[9/8/23, 16:28:37] Renlord: Do you have a photo of the stain.
‚Äé[9/8/23, 16:28:46] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: ‚Äé<attached: 00000135-PHOTO-2023-08-09-16-28-46.jpg>
[9/8/23, 16:29:36] Renlord: So just this right? Then I get my full deposit back?
[9/8/23, 16:49:36] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: Sure, as long as you can fix it.
Also the bulb in the kitchen, need to replace.
[9/8/23, 16:50:05] Renlord: Do you have a photo of the bulb? I can’t remember what kinda bulb it is.
[9/8/23, 16:50:17] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: No
[9/8/23, 17:13:58] Renlord: When are you free you can let me go see the bulb and I’ll buy you a replacement.

I thought to myself - if I offer to repair the stain that went unnotice for 2 years, maybe I can get my security deposit back amicably.

Little did I know…

On Thursday, 10th August 2023, my ordeal continues…

[10/8/23, 10:03:02] Renlord: Tues 9.30am apply treatment 

Thurs 10am remove treatment.

Upon putting treatment, will collect $120. N balance $60 upon removal 2 days later. 

We cannot guarantee 100% removal but it will lighten or be totally removed. 

If no reaction at all after removal, we will not collect the balance $60.
[10/8/23, 10:03:15] Renlord: I organised a guy to repair for these timings.
[10/8/23, 10:03:35] Renlord: Sounds good to you?
[10/8/23, 10:03:45] Renlord: You can ask the landlord if he is happy with this also.
[10/8/23, 10:04:06] Renlord: I do this so I can quickly get my deposit back without more drama so we can all move on with our lives.
[10/8/23, 10:04:18] Renlord: While it’s not my fault.
[10/8/23, 10:04:34] Renlord: I hope we can come to an understanding without further escalations.
[10/8/23, 12:17:57] Renlord: Hello? Can confirm appointment times pls?
[10/8/23, 13:49:41] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: Today 6:45pm I will be there, I can pass you one set of key and card, for you to settle all the defects.
[10/8/23, 14:05:35] Renlord: Ok. I expect see my deposit back by the 21st of August.
[10/8/23, 14:06:04] Renlord: You make sure the landlord knows.
[10/8/23, 14:11:29] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: My apologies, but I have to correct you.
Once the damages are settled, u have to wait for landlord inspection of damages and repairs. If satisfactory, the security deposit will be released.
So we can’t force landlord to fit into the expectation.
We will do our best to facilitate and get the deposit back for you asap.

Thank you
[10/8/23, 14:13:15] Renlord: Then you best advise the landlord to view before the 21st of August within the 14 day window. I’m already volunteering my time to fix something that was not my fault. The least you can do is to get the landlord to uphold their end of the bargain.
[10/8/23, 14:25:37] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: Hi Renlord, just for your reference. 14 days is if there is no defects.
But like I mentioned, we will expedite what we can do.
We understand your p.o.v.
There is no reason for us to delay. 
Appreciate your kind understanding in this matter.

We will do things according to the proper manner without any prejudice.
[10/8/23, 15:53:01] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: My appt timing changed, I can't be at Star of Kovan later. 

I meet you direct at Serangoon MRT around 7:20pm. 

Is it ok?
[10/8/23, 15:53:19] Renlord: Ok.
[10/8/23, 19:04:40] Renlord: I’m at nex already
[10/8/23, 19:17:42] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: ‚Äé<attached: 00000158-VIDEO-2023-08-10-19-17-42.mp4>
[10/8/23, 19:17:42] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: ‚Äé<attached: 00000159-VIDEO-2023-08-10-19-17-42.mp4>
[10/8/23, 19:18:06] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: Owner just visited the unit, and these are the video she took, need to clean up.
[10/8/23, 19:18:19] Renlord: What’s there to clean with this?
[10/8/23, 19:18:32] Renlord: No I’m not going to do it.
[10/8/23, 19:19:02] Renlord: I’ve already done my duty
[10/8/23, 19:19:12] Renlord: And handed over in good condition
[10/8/23, 19:19:50] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: Many insect inside, so you have to clean up.
If not, the landlord will engage the cleaner to clean and deduct from deposit.
[10/8/23, 19:23:23] Renlord: Anyways we signed the handover report and it didn’t say the place is dirty. If owner is fussy she can hire a cleaner using her own money to clean.
[10/8/23, 19:23:27] Renlord: I’ve done my part.
[10/8/23, 19:23:35] Renlord: Touch the deposit then we go to court lo.
[10/8/23, 19:25:08] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: I can't meet you, need to ask for landlord's permission to pass you the key.
[10/8/23, 19:25:52] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: Sorry for the inconvenience caused
[10/8/23, 19:25:55] Renlord: Ok. Then you meet the repair guy to that will remove the stain ok?
[10/8/23, 19:26:41] Renlord: If I don’t receive my full deposit back by 21st I’m going to start legal proceedings.
[10/8/23, 19:28:49] Agent (Stars Of Kovan #0000) Yang: You pass me the contact, thanks
[10/8/23, 19:46:34] Renlord: Please ask the landlord to detail the reasons why security deposit cannot be refunded.

Light that need to be “cleaned” - 1

Light that need to be “cleaned” - 2

At this point, my patience has been fully exhausted and my blood boils. I’ve withdrawn my offer to repair the stain that was NOT left by me and reneged on every request for repairs/cleaning that the agent and/or owner has made.

Some lessons I’ve learnt from this:

Tenancy Agreement with Annotations