Renting rooms anywhere is tricky business.
The place might look pristine and wonderful in the Airbnb pictures but the conditions might be subpar in reality; you could meet landlords who ask for exorbitant prices for rent, or establish a lot of rules and nitpick about everything.
Well, this middle-aged couple of landlords might take the cake, because a total of 16 ex-tenants exposed the tyranny and unfairness that they were subjected to, under their roof.
Blowing the Whistle
The individual who approached Shin Min Daily News to expose the landlords’ misdeeds first goes by the surname of Qiu.
Mr Qiu told the Chinese reporters that when his previous room lease was about to expire, he found a room in Block 351D on Anchorvale Road that could be rented for S$800 a month, which seemed like a decent price, so he moved in on 2 Feb.
The 29-year-old tenant shared that a middle-aged couple were staying in the house, and they had also rented out the master bedroom and another room.
However, Mr Qiu’s troubles only began when he moved into the room.
He and his brother were quick to realise that the male owner was reticent and scarce with words, whilst the female landlord was aggressive and naggy, and she established a lot of rules.
For instance, they were not allowed to shower for more than 5 minutes, they couldn’t switch on the lights after 2am in the morning, they had to be quiet when walking, and they had to return before 11pm at night.
Holy cripes, that’s even stricter than the rules for BMT bunks, I reckon.
Since Mr Qiu was staying with his brother, they chose to endure all these rules, but things only turned for the worse after they paid the monthly rent; the female landlord’s attitude became more antagonistic, to the point where she would stare at the brothers as they washed their clothes, and said that they would have to pay if they broke the washing machine with an accusatory tone.
Mr Qiu’s younger brother wanted to go back to Malaysia, but he wasn’t assured about leaving his older brother alone in Singapore. He moved out early last week (13 Mar).
He didn’t ask for the landlord to return the rental fees, but he hoped that they could take back the deposit.
That didn’t happen, however.
Mr Qiu recalled that the female landlord had fabricated a multitude of reasons when she asked to return the deposit money, like wanting to check the furniture, asking for the keys to be handed over, so on and so forth, before she bluntly stated that she wasn’t going to return the deposit.
“My younger brother and I didn’t want to bother anymore, and we were chased out after handing over the keys. We found a few unfortunate tenants prior to this, and we even made a WeChat group. There are at least 16 people who fell for the same scheme, and they couldn’t get back their deposit money either.”
Essentially, this is Swindled Not-Anonymous (SNA), the kind-of sibling to Alcoholic Anonymous.
The Current Victim Under Their Roof
The latest tenant that moved into the flat was Mr Lin, who is a 42-year-old chef, and he told the reporters that he and his girlfriend moved into the flat on 5 Feb.
On 7 March, the landlord used the excuse that “the flat was going to be sold” to make him move out at the end of the month, and said that the deposit money could be “settled later”.
He expressed that he was already prepared to fight till the end to get back his deposit money, or else he was going to lodge a police complaint.
Another in the String of Unfortunate Tenants
Another unfortunate victim, the 23-year-old Mr Yang also shared that when he moved into the flat in April last year, the female landlord was kind at first, but her attitude took a 180 degree turn later.
He remembered that there was one night where she suddenly turned off the washing machine, stating they weren’t allowed to wash their clothes at night because the noise would disturb the neighbours, so he could only wash his clothes with his hands.
Mr Yang revealed that the landlord also started adding more clauses to the signed rent contract, limiting the amount of time the air-conditioner could remain turned on, and even asked for the rent in cash only.
Ensuring that there are fewer paper trails like a con-artist? Check.
“In the end, the female owner reasoned that her relatives were coming over to stay and told me to move out, and then she framed me for breaking an item and refused to return the deposit money. I was so frustrated that I called the police, except I only managed to receive $400 in return.”
Randomly Barging into Tenant’s Room
It appears that the landlord’s behaviour follows a set pattern: be nice and genteel at first, annoying tenants with extra and unreasonable rules, and lastly finding a random excuse to chase out the tenants while stirring up more dumb pretexts to ensure that she can keep the deposit money her pockets.
Because that was what happened to former tenant Mr Chen as well. He had divulged that he moved into the flat in January this year and his rent for the master bedroom was $950 per month.
On the first day, the female landlord barged into the room on her own accord, stating that she heard the sound of the fan and thought that no one was inside, which scared the couple.
A few days later, Mr Chen noticed that their items had been moved before, so he installed a surveillance camera.
Lo and behold, he later discovered that both the male and female landlord would frequently open the room door without their permission and even opened the cupboards.
When Mr Chen questioned the landlords, they still had the cheek to say that they suspected that they were cooking water inside and wanted to scope out the room.
After having their room being arbitrarily intruded upon more than five times, Mt Chen could no longer tolerate it. He called the police on 16 January.
It reached the extent where he would rather move out on 24 January, even if it meant that he wouldn’t get back his deposit money.
When queries were made, the police confirmed that they had received that case report.
Morale of the Story
If there’s anything that these tenants have learnt from this experience, it is the importance of reading the reviews of a place first before renting a room.
In a group called “Rented Room Blacklisted”, there were numerous complaints about the exact same flat.
The individual’s identity has been concealed, but the summary of their post was they alleged that the middle-aged couple were black-hearted landlords and liars, who would specifically find ways to cheat tenants out of their rent money.
From their account, they had only rented the place for more than a month before they were told to move out because their relatives were coming, but they sent out a Facebook notice shortly thereafter, looking for a new tenant.
When the ex-tenant tried to claim back the deposit money, the female landlord would spin all sorts of excuses, or she would pretend that she didn’t hear anything. No matter what is said or done, she just simply refuses to give back the deposit money.
For that anonymous ex-tenant, they had moved into the flat in the same month as three other people, and they were chased out on the same month. Likewise, they failed to get back their deposit money.
Apparently, in the same Facebook group, there were several posts that were talking about the same landlords too, which proved that it definitely wasn’t the first time it has happened.
All of the previous tenants have tried to contact the local authorities for help, but they couldn’t do anything about the female landlord either.
Hence, the original poster decided to publish this warning in hopes of giving the other prospective room renters a reminder, or else their deposit money would be swindled away as well.
The Landlord’s Side of the Story
Of course, being responsible reporters, Shin Min Daily News didn’t stop at contacting the victims of this deposit-swindling scheme.
When the Chinese reporters went to the flat for a face-to-face interview they only managed to gather the responses of the female, middle-aged landlord through the door.
She blatantly denied having restricted her tenant’s access to the shower to five minutes, and even said: “Does he have any evidence? I never said it.”
Additionally, she also denied setting the rule where they were not allowed to make loud noises.
The female landlord also expressed that the tenant didn’t pay the rent for the last month. “If the other party paid [last month’s rent], does he have any evidence to prove it? All of them are spouting nonsense.”
Madam, I can only applaud your thick skin, which is even thicker than the Great Wall of China.
Certainly, there’s a chinese proverb where “three men can make a tiger” (三人成虎), which refers to how people are willing to accept absurd information as long as it’s repeated by enough people, but come on.
There are 16 people, a number of Facebook posts, pictures of the signed contract, and several police reports and victims’ testimonies standing against you.
Just based on the fact that your victim-tenants only had short stays at your place and were made to leave before the rent lease expired, speaks volumes of how terrible the experience under your roof was.
At this point, it’s quite clear who is the one that’s speaking drivel here.
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