Tenancy Tips For Those With Nightmarish Landlords And Horrible Housemates

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Tenancy Tips For Those With Nightmarish Landlords And Horrible Housemates

STORY: Nicholas Yong
06 July 2021
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. | Illustrations: 123RF

Did you know that more and more young Singaporeans are renting their own place during this endemic COVID state of affairs because they want privacy and space? (Or maybe they just secretly cannot tahan their parents.)

Most are able to finally get the paradise aka personal space they've been yearn for. But for the unlucky few, this new life has quickly turned out to be a nightmare instead, and they've found themselves renting a room from Cruella De Vil.

The same can be said for the EP and S Pass holders that have been stuck in the country since the Circuit Breaker in 2020. Finding a great rental place with a friendly landlord / landlady + housemates is like buying Toto, especially if you’re not looking to rent the entire place.

Here, some sibei jialat real-life accounts by tenants (whose names have been changed) and ways you can deal with these scenarios if you're unfortunate enough to be in the same sitch:

My landlady is a conspiracy theorist

“I am already so stressed from WFH back-to-back meetings and preparing for a big client presentation, but all my landlady wants to do is talk to me (probably because she has nobody else to talk to). The worst part: she wants to talk about conspiracy theories and how COVID-19 isn’t actually real… and this goes on for hours.

"She also believes Wi-Fi signals can cause cancer, so she switches the Wi-Fi off at her whim and fancy. Plus, she turned her HDB service yard area into some mini forest with fake Ikea plants that attract a lot of creepy bugs which make funny sounds. I cannot.”
- Kamil, PR living in Punggol

How sia? Run. With so many red flags, why did you even sign the contract in the first place? But if you can’t escape because you’ve already signed a one-year contract, then it’s best to communicate with her that you’re exhausted from work and you need to focus on important matters, so you do not wish to be disturbed.

Best not to burn bridges and try to speak nicely. But if all else fails, then lock the door, hang a "please do not disturb" sign, and hope she gets the signal.

My super selfish housemates

“My housemates and I have a shared fridge space – but somehow, if I don’t chope one side of the fridge, my housemates will fill it up with their own things, leaving no space at all for me. Even doing laundry can be a hassle. They leave their clothes to dry for nearly a week without bringing them in. Where am I supposed to dry my clothes? Tolong la.”
- Beth, Singaporean living in Tampines

How sia? Best to talk with your landlord / landlady about this. Propose dividing the allocated fridge space accordingly, and creating a schedule for laundry day so everyone knows when it’s their turn to wash and dry their clothes.

Take a photo and send it to your landlord / landlady if your housemates break the rules. It’s not being petty - you have a right to a comfortable and equitable living space too!

My landlord wasn’t my landlord at all?!

“I was lucky to find a cheap room in Punggol and signed an agreement with my landlord. Everything was good until I found out three months later that... I was actually subleasing the HDB from another tenant! A crazy-huge argument ensued when the actual landlord came back from an overseas trip. Madness. Unfairly, I was forced back into the rental market.”
- Roshni, Singaporean, now living in Hougang

How sia? If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is. You can request the prospective landlord / landlady to log onto the HDB website to prove that they own the place. If they refuse your request, then surely very sus.

If you want to do your own detective work, you can request property ownership information from INLIS (but must pay money lah).

WWE at home

“My housemate K loves to fry eggs, but the entire kitchen becomes oily as a result. This drives my landlady’s mother insane (landlady doesn’t stay there but her parents do). That was only the start of their war.

"Things escalated after K and the aunty had another fight over their shared toilet. The aunty accused K of not picking up her strands of hair which allegedly clogged the shower drain. This led to the aunty throwing water into K's room.

When K confronted her, the aunty said she was simply mopping the floor and the water accidentally got in. Even the police got involved to break up the fight. K is now looking for a new place to stay.”
- Janice, EP living in Sembawang

How sia? Thankfully it doesn’t involve you, so better stay away completely and mind your own business. If you were the housemate though, then it’s best that all parties discuss everything – put it all out on the table.

There’s plenty of give and take when it comes to renting, but the important thing is everyone can come to a compromise. And when negotiations fail, it's best for the tenant to move out.

My first renting experience was so suay

“The first place I rented was from a parent’s friend’s friend (a couple) at East Coast. After two months, they announced their mother was coming to stay. Because I slept in the common room, the mother slept in a storage room that didn’t even have a door, just a curtain. I felt paiseh but I didn’t know how long she was staying.

"One night when I came home, the mother came out the storage room and started talking to me as if she knew me. Turns out she had dementia, and thought I was someone else, but I didn't really know how to reply to her since my Chinese was quite bad. I dealt with it for awhile because I felt bad that this old lady was always home alone in the storage room, but in the end I moved out when the couple announced that they were expecting twins.

"But the most horrible part of this story is: I was staying in a place without a lift, without my own toilet, and it cost me $1,300 a month! By right, my room should have gone to the old lady, but I guess the landlord and landlady enjoyed the extra income that I brought in.”
- Debbie, PR living in Jurong East

How sia? The best lesson to take away from this is to shop around. Don’t accept the first decent place you’ve viewed, and always keep an open mind. Also, compare rent prices from several rental listing websites to find the median average rental price for the area, so you won’t be overpaying for rent.

Wah liao why must I pay so much for repairs?

“All was good for the first couple of weeks when I first moved into the room. Then the aircon started leaking. Landlord said I had to pay for the repairs, but shouldn’t he pay? Then the heater stopped working too.

"He also liked to accuse me of using the internet all day (no need work ah?) so I had to switch it off every night before bed. End up I was forced to break the lease, but then he accused me of causing scratches on the floor because of my chair and wanted me to pay for repairs.”
- Kaur, Singaporean living in Ang Mo Kio

How sia? Your tenancy agreement is gold - ideally an HDB contract if it’s an HDB. It should stipulate who should be paying for damages and repairs clearly (if it doesn’t, it should!) and other things like internet usage.

Don’t simply sign leh. It’s good to take photos / video of the entire property when you first move in and during your stay. Leceh, but it’s the best proof that you didn’t do anything wrong. Worse comes to worst, you'll have to go to the Small Claims Tribunal.

Remember, your landlord / landlady are humans too. Except the crazy ones in these stories here.

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TAGS: Housing , Tips and Tricks , True Stories
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