Tuesday, July 8, 2008

She Pays Hundreds Of Dollars To Fake Landlord

Source : The Electric New Paper, July 08, 2008

# 'Landlord' evicted, so victim's lease terminated
# 'Landlord still owes her $1,600'

FIRST, there were bed bugs and cockroaches in her rented three-room HDB flat.

Next, the water and power supply were cut off.

When she complained to the 'landlord', she was shocked to discover the woman was not only a bankrupt, she did not even own the flat.

Miss Cui's 'landlord' was found to be an undischarged bankrupt. -- TNP Picture: KENNETH KOH

To top it off, she had to leave when the actual owner evicted her 'landlord' for failing to pay rent and subletting the room.

The tenant, who wanted to be known only as Miss Cui, is a 25-year-old Chinese national who is working here as a sales executive. She signed a one-year lease for the master bedroom of a flat in Clementi for a monthly rent of $600.

Now she says she is losing more than $1,500 which she had paid to the 'landlord'.

She had found the room through a property agent who had advertised in the press.

'When I went to view the room, I did ask them if the landlord was the flat owner and she claimed to be,' said Miss Cui.

She signed the tenancy agreement the next day as the agent said there were other interested tenants, and moved in on 20 Mar.

The 'landlord' and her husband stayed in the other room of the three-room flat.


Miss Cui was soon bothered by the bed bugs.

'The infestation was so bad, you could see the bugs crawling around the furniture and even on the wall,' she claimed. 'The flat appeared clean when I first viewed it. I did not expect it to be so dirty.'

She complained repeatedly to the 'landlord' who changed her mattress.

'But it was worse - the replacement mattress was old, dirty and it had many stains on it,' she said.

And there were cockroaches in the kitchen.

'It was very scary. When I opened the drawers, I saw cockroaches and cockroach eggs. I just slammed it shut,' she said.

The 'landlord' finally called the pest control people, but Miss Cui had to pay them.

On 4 Apr, Miss Cui said the 'landlord' asked for an advance payment of another 10 days worth of rent. Said Miss Cui: 'I found it strange. The 'landlord' told me she had no money.'

Nevertheless, Miss Cui handed over$240. On 5 Apr, a Saturday morning, the 'landlord' told Miss Cui that if she wanted to shower, she should do so quickly as the water supply was going to be stopped.

'She told me there were going to be repair works, but it wasn't true. The power supply was cut off too,' fumed Miss Cui.

It was only later that she discovered that the landlord had failed to pay the water and electricity bills.

Miss Cui finally learnt the truth when on 13 Apr, the real owner of the flat came with policemen to evict her 'landlord'. She said she left the flat to avoid trouble.

Later that night, she met the agent and the 'landlord'.

Recalled Miss Cui: 'The 'landlord' said she was not the flat owner, and that there was nothing she could do as she was a bankrupt.'

The agent returned her commission to Miss Cui.

But, she asked: 'Who is going to pay me the cost I incurred moving?'

The property agent when contacted, declined to comment.


Miss Cui, who found another room for rent in a private apartment, claimed the 'landlord' owed her $1620.50, including a penalty she could claim according to the contract she had signed.

'She has avoided my calls, and I doubt I will get my money back,' she said.

A check with the Insolvency & Public Trustee's Office revealed that the 'landlord' is an undischarged bankrupt.

The New Paper was unable to reach her on her handphone.

A spokesman for the Insolvency & Public Trustee's Office said that when obtaining a loan of $500 or more from another person, an undischarged bankrupt has to inform the credit provider of his or her bankruptcy status.

Failure to do so is an offence which carries a fine of up to $10,000, or a jail term of up to three years.

Mr Mohd Ismail, 44, vice-president of the Institute of Estate Agents, said tenants should take precautions when renting by asking to see proof of the property ownership, such as property tax statement or conservancy charges.

He said: 'The tenant should also state in the tenancy agreement that 'the tenant is hereby renting the premises at the agreed price with the following conditions'.'

In the event of a dispute between the tenant and landlord, a claim may be lodged at the Small Claims Tribunal.

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