A total of 16 former tenants of one HDB flat in Sengkang have banded together to call out the unscrupulous methods employed by a landlord couple, who allegedly have been confiscating rental deposits.
This was after the landlords, a middle-aged couple, made living under the same roof unbearable, forcing tenants to give up and move out early, as well as informing tenants abruptly that the house will soon be sold.
One tenant, surnamed Qiu, 29, went to Chinese media Shin Min Daily News to blow the whistle.
He said he found a room for rent at Block 351D, Anchorvale Road in Sengkang.
The monthly rent was S$800 and he moved in on Feb. 15, 2022.
Middle-aged couple landlords
The middle-aged couple owned the flat and two other rooms were also allegedly rented out, according to Qiu.
The problems allegedly started once the tenants moved in.
Qiu told Shin Min: “After we moved in, we found that the male owner was reticent, while the female owner was aggressive and made a lot of rules.”
“For example, we were told to take a shower for no more than 5 minutes, not to turn on the lights after 2am, have to walk quietly, and go home before 11pm.”
“My brother and I lived together, and we basically endured it. But after paying the rent for this month, the other party started behaving worse, staring at us for washing and drying our clothes, and saying that we have to pay for breaking the washing machine.”
Tricks to get tenant to move
Qiu also claimed that the landlord had sent a message on March 9 asking them to move at the end of the month on the grounds the house will soon be sold.
Qiu said he has since read on Facebook about another tenant exposing the tricks of unscrupulous landlords, who also did something similar and proceeded not to return the rental deposit.
“My younger brother wants to return to Malaysia, and was not comfortable with me living alone,” Qiu said.
“He moved out early on March 13 before the month was up.”
“We did not ask for the remaining month’s rental back, but only requested for the deposit to be returned.”
Kicked out of house after return keys
In response, the female landlord refused to return the deposit, citing the need to inspect the furniture and insisted for the keys to be handed over.
Qiu said he and his brother did not want to kick up a fuss and handed over the keys.
When they did so, they were kicked out immediately.
He and his brother then joined a WeChat group and found 16 other tenants who said they did not get their deposit back after renting a room.
Current tenant also facing problems
Another tenant, a 42-year-old man who is still renting a place, told Shin Min he and his girlfriend moved in on Feb. 5.
The landlords then informed him on March 7 that he has to move out on the grounds that the house will soon be sold.
This tenant said he will fight to the bitter end to retrieve his deposit, or else, he will go to the police to make a report.
Adding of rules to tenancy agreement experienced by others
A previous 23-year-old tenant told Shin Min that he moved in with his girlfriend in April 2021.
He found the female landlord kind at first, but her demeanour changed soon after moving in.
He said: “One night, she suddenly turned off the washing machine, saying that we couldn’t do laundry at night as the noise would disturb the neighbors, so I had to wash the clothes by hand.”
He added that the landlords then added more rules to the tenancy agreement that was hand signed, such as limiting the hours the air-conditioner could be turned on and insisting rent to be paid in cash.
The female landlord then informed the tenant that her relatives were keen to move in to the house and he had to move out.
The tenant said the landlord then accused him of breaking something in the house and refused to refund his deposit.
He called the police eventually and got S$400 back.
Landlords barged into room
And it appears the same tactics employed by the landlords to frustrate tenants follow a pattern.
A former tenant, a 22-year-old man, said he and his girlfriend rented the master bedroom for S$950 a month previously.
Right on the first day, the female landlord barged into the room saying that she heard the sound of a fan inside and thought there was no one around.
This action frightened the tenants.
A few days later, the tenant found items moved in the room.
So, he installed a camera.
The camera caught both the male and female landlords entering the room and even opening the cabinet.
When confronted, they claimed they suspected the tenant was boiling water in the room,
Due to the trespassing into the room that allegedly occurred up to five times, the tenant called the police on Jan. 16.
He said he would rather not get back his deposit and moved out by Jan. 24.
Landlords’ side of story
The Shin Min reporter visited the house on March 16 to get the landlords’ side of the story.
A woman who claimed to be the owner of the unit denied the various claims made by the tenants.
She said there was no 5-minute limit for showering, and retorted: “Does he have any evidence? I didn’t say it.”
She also denied that it was stipulated that no sound should be made when entering the house.
The female landlord also claimed that the most recent tenant who moved out did not pay last month’s rent.
She said: “If the other party has paid, does he have any evidence? They can all talk nonsense.”
Top photos via Shin Min Daily News
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