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UberGold
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PostSubject: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Wed Apr 06, 2011 1:52 am

Disclaimer:
I have been a practicing Realtor for the last 6 years (including this year, 4.5 years as a Director) and finally, I am moving out of the industry. This is a letter I penned in frustration after a deadbeat agent refused to return the Security Deposit of my client (tenant) at the end of the lease... it has been more than 6 months since he all about disappeared with my client's deposit paid at the beginning of the rental. Called the CEA and was told this was a 'civil case' and I would have to engage a lawyer to sue for the refund (Small Claims). WTF???

So, I wrote to the whole bunch of executives at the Council of Estate Agents, aimed at 'Protecting Consumer's Interest', and also to our dear Minister Mah Bow Tan... and actually got NO RESPONSE from them after 7 days!

Here is the letter (names of persons and corporations changed).

______________________________

Dear Minister, Madam and Sir,


It is about time the Real Estate Industry in Singapore received a proper cleaning-up.

A very flattering headline once said about CEA:

"Singapore Launches Council For Estate Agencies To Protect Consumer Interests"

Or... Really?

My name is Mr Uber, District Director in SICC Property Pte Ltd. This is my sixth year in the real estate industry. Sad to say, I will be less and less active in this trade as I feel that not enough is being done to revamp the industry. Unscrupulous agents are ALLOWED and even sanctioned to run free, sanctioned by the laws of Singapore and by CEA, of course. That's why I have already begun to taper down my involvement in this industry.
It's like a 'cowboy' industry.

As such, it is actually quite tiresome when I do my best to be ethical, to do what's right when unscrupulous agents are given leeway to do what they want. And yet, if you were in my position and you reacted to seek justice... most likely you will get into trouble with the law yourself.

I would like to raise your attention to a matter that I have encountered within the industry and I believe, it is quite prevalent.... is the matter of SECURITY DEPOSITS.

In my experience, I have found that with the matter of SECURITY DEPOSITS for rental properties, it's always a case of 'Easy to give, hard to retrieve'.

When I assist clients with leasing rental properties (usually expatriates), I would advise them that the security deposit is necessary and advice them with: "A FULL REFUND would be given back to you at the end of the lease when we hand the property back to the landlord in good condition, no worries about that".

However, this is far from the truth as I see it because there is no safety net, there is no recourse. The way things are currently structured allows the landlord or the landlord's agent to behave however they want, with no backlash.

Landlords and even landlord agents hold the deposits unfairly at their whims and fancies. And while I have built up good relationships and trust with my clients over the years.... it really frustrates me when I cannot even get their security deposits back, such a simple issue!

The agent or landlord can arbitrarily decide to reduce the deposit returned, citing whatever reasons or just hold it indefinitely.


Such is the case I am facing now.


My client Mr Niceguy, who is now the number 2 man at BigCorp Inc, (an MNC with EU 7.8 Billion of market capitalisation, that's S$13.8 Billion), who is answerable only to the founder of BigCorp Inc himself, is finding it impossible to get his security deposit back after returning the house in good condition to the landlord agent.

Mr NiceGuy is now based in BigCorp Inc's HQ in Paris after accepting his current position (he used to be the CEO of BigCorp Inc. Asia Pacific while in Singapore) and I am finding it very hard to get his deposit back. The property has been handed over to the landlord's agent in September 2010. It is almost April now. That's more than 6 months of them holding my client's money illegally, a 5-figure amount. By right, the landlord's agent and landlord actually owe my client the principal with interest.

This agent, who operated (probably without license), does not even have a company name. I cannot find him on CEA's registrar as well.
Instead, he operates by the name of "Chris Tan".
For months, I have been calling him, sending him smses but he just conveniently ignores all the attempts to reach him.

During the property handover, everything was handed back to him in pristine condition, BigCorp Inc. even hired professional contract cleaners to clean up the property before the handover. He took the keys back and just told the secretary during the handover that the refund will be sent to them.

Weeks passed. Nothing.

Then my client emailed me informing me that the security deposit has yet to be effected. I called the landlord agent and he told me that the "accounts department" of the landlord cannot release the amount to my landlord because the contract was signed in the company's name (Corporate Lease) while the deposit was to be refunded to my client. (This should have been easy to resolve since the cheque to the landlord WAS issued by my client). But nonetheless, we went along with his way and I got the secretary to send him a statement from the company stating that the SECURITY DEPOSIT was to be refunded to my client's account. The secretary sent a casual note and weeks later, after persistently calling the landlord's agent, I was informed by him that this was unacceptable and an official statement was needed.
Then, I followed up some more... and finally, an official letter from BigCorp Inc. with the proper signatures from the company, was sent to the landlord's agent on registered mail stating the same.

Thereafter, the landlord's agent disappeared.

Attempts to reach him on my mobile phone with sms and calls have been routinely ignored.

Once I managed to get him using a landline of a different number and he answered, telling me that he was dealing with the secretary and the refund would be prompt, citing that the landlord was overseas and coming back in a few days. I have checked and the property is registered under a Taiwanese man. However, it is obvious that we do not need the landlord to be here at all since all he needs to do was to effect an electronic transfer of funds into my client's account and thereby, CASE CLOSED.

I have called CEA about a month ago and was told very helpfully that this was a civil case and we would have to bring them to small claims court.

REALLY?!!!

My question is......... WHAT have you done for us? Dear CEA?

A few flattering, pie in the sky headlines.... just in case anyone forgets:


"Minister Mah Bow Tan said the establishment of the CEA would be a major milestone to raise professionalism in the real estate agency industry and protect consumer interest".

Whose interests are we protecting here???? The scamsters? The con-artists? Or the hardened criminals? The honest tenants who trusted in us?

My client paid good rent, on time, every time. Took great care of the property in Singapore... and when he left.... made sure the entire house was made a pristine condition, and now... after more than 6 months, cannot even get his security deposit back because according to CEA, this becomes a 'civil case' and we NEED TO SUE him. How nice.

Where is the intervention?

Where is the 'protection', Dear CEA, Dear Minister?


Let me ask you boldly... Is CEA just 'protecting' its coffers? $200 per agent X 27,000 agents? You can do the math yourself. Why are we paying?

While those of us build good relationships, practice honestly... and in the end we are sidelined by the sincere help we get from "authorities".... while the black sheep of the industry continue in their ways just because they are so 'untouchable' since NO ONE is willing to do anything to them.

Looks like even after CEA is formed... nothing much has changed. Except one more 'body' to pay yearly subscription to, that's about it.



More empty promises:

"The new regulatory framework seeks to raise the professionalism of the real estate agency industry and to enable consumers to better safeguard their interests".

Safeguard consumer's interest, eh?
And therefore, my dear client's case of theft of personal monies by the agent and landlord becomes a 'civil case'.

And then another pleasant-sounding jingle:
"The CEA will investigate complaints and take firm action against errant estate agents and salespersons".


How lofty sounding! Is this the promise given, that's why CEA is advising me that now we have to sue someone in Small Claims Court to get our RIGHTUL money back, by ourselves and our lawyers? Ridiculous?




Let us look at the broad picture. Let us ignore the local media for a second.... do you know that not many people outside of Singapore see Singapore as such a wonderful wonderland as we are made to believe? Just look at the number of Australians opposing the ASX and AGX merger.

And now this. What do you think my dear friend Mr NiceGuy (An Australian) is going to think? He has been giving me good business and offering me support, referring me to very well-to-do friends of his when they are in Singapore with a real estate need, as per many of my clients who have been happy with the way I assisted them in their home search here in Singapore.

Yet, when they are taken advantage of by the local landlords or agents, all I can do is say sorry. What message is this going to send to the outside world? They would say... : "Yes, my agent Uber was super and he's coming to visit us this summer... but the laws and authorities over there in Singapore governing real estate... total rubbish".


(This is not the first time this has happened, where my clients were made to feel so disadvantaged during the process of getting back our Security Deposit. Once, a landlord agent , who took back the property in good condition, a few days later, arbitrarily decided that the property is 'not clean enough'... and either would hold the deposit or deduct 'accordingly'. In the end, after countless arguments, it was clear that he wanted to keep some of the money because the deposit was refunded to my client using his personal cheque. (Meaning the landlord could have refunded the full amount to him already). My client took the reduced money since she was leaving but do you think she will say anything positive about Singapore thereafter? She was also a dear client who took me out for meals and referred many clients to me as well, just like Mr NiceGuy).


This morning, I called this errant landlord's agent yet again on behalf of my client, Mr NiceGuy, and the landlord's agent told me that he would be dealing directly with the secretary and this is NONE OF MY BUSINESS.

However, I say it certainly IS my business because:

1. My client is asking me about the process of the refund
2. My client got the property because of me introducing him to this property
3. The secretary is a company employee and has nothing to do with this case, actually
4. It was through my hands that the security deposit cheque was handed to the landlord side
5. I promised my friend and client, Mr NiceGuy, that I would be following up on this.
6. I have reason to believe the landlord agent just wants to have it his way with the secretary.. seeing she is a female.. could be unaggressive and unfamiliar with the industry practice
7. My clients trusts me fully to be able to get the security deposit back for him, which is only fair


This incident is really beginning to leave a bad taste in my client's mouth and I really hope you can coorperate with me here, to give me assistance to your fullest power and let us get our rightful deposit back from the unscrupulous cheat.

As BigCorp Inc. is very much involved in food solutions and sustainability projects which the Singapore Government is very much keen on currently exploring to become self-sufficient, BigCorp Inc. have been meeting with certain officials and govenment departments regarding sustainability projects.
If you cannot even resolve this case of the Security Deposit and let our friends be cheated just like this and expect someone like Mr NiceGuy to go to court to sue for this sum..... just think about the loss of respect for the local government officials.


Here I am building relationships, making our foreign friends feel at home to help them to adjust to life here. From CEOs and Chairmen of companies to entry-level expatriates on local pay packages. From foreign whites to Asian expatriates to Indian professionals. From foreigners to locals. I am doing my best to make the process of buying/renting/selling real estate here to be as undaunting and easy as possible. To chip away the lousy image of 'unscrupulous and fast talking salespeople who just want a quick buck and then run away after the deal'.
I am doing my best. But Dear CEA, you are NOT HELPING me and I am left here by you, fighting a losing battle.


Can someone get the police to step in? To track this "Chris Tan" down and demand a refund without delay? I believe I have his residential address where all correspondence to the landlord are addressed.


I am writing to you because I still desperately want to have some respect for "authority" and to keep the beliefs that you can make things happen and that you are actually not here for NOTHING, alive.


I do not think it is fair for you to turn a blind eye and thereby, create the environment where law-abiding agents have to be forced (in order to have the integrity to answer to faithful clients) to resort to martial law or criminal intimidation or scrawling O$P$ on the walls of these unscrupulous agents.

Please do the right thing.


I have spoken to the secretary of BigCorp Inc. and she has told me she would like to go ahead and make a police report and when Mr NiceGuy comes back (he will be in town early April), he will go and lodge a police report as well. I told her to hold on and let me speak to CEA first. I asked her for some faith in the 'system'.

Anyway... sorry to tell Mr NiceGuy but the 'police report' just isn't going to get anything done. If nothing gets done by the time he arrives, I will advise him to go ahead and make a big hoo-ha over the matter and I will support him since this is an obvious system failure where the interests of consumers not only DO NOT get any protection, they are sidelined.

Why is the system such failure? The ones who are dishonest seem to be the ones flourishing.


Some chatter from the internet regarding the CEA, I have copied it for a sense of reality... I believe it is time to do some actual groundwork instead of just mouthing those grandiose notions from news headlines:

Taken off the internet, regarding CEA:

-------------------------------
i would not say its really for show, its a money making organisation.

from registration fees of about $200 / head
and insurance cover

and now
if u want to lodge a formal appeal, 1K non refundable irregardless of the outcome

---------------------------------

Please forward this email to the highest authority. I also notice that Mr Greg Seow's email cannot be found anywhere. I would like to have this forwarded to him, as well. Thank you so much.

I sincerely hope you will assist and help to do what's right. I am very tired and frustrated at being honest and nice since the ones who are dishonest are the ones getting away with everything, seen so much in my years in this industry.

If you are not willing to take action, please do not transfer me around but please send this letter to the one that has the sign on his desk saying: " The buck stops here".


I very much appreciate your attention on this email.


I also have the perfect solution to this problem of 'security deposit ransom' never ever happening again.



I very much look forward to your sincere response.


THANK YOU SO MUCH.



UBERGOLD


--------------------------------------------------------------------



NO RESPONSE FROM ANY OF THE ONES I ADDRESSED TO AFTER 7 DAYS. Any of you think it is quite ridiculous for these government bodies to look the other way, shirk their responsibilities and just pretend nothing happened?

Not even a courtesy response. Quite ridiculous.


Share your thoughts. I am those who stand up for the truth. Nothing false nor defaming in my emails. Nothing 'anti-government' at all. Just wished someone would do something. Otherwise, when I go and kick his door in, then I get into trouble. So, the bad guy wins?


Let's discuss.


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motokah
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Wed Apr 06, 2011 3:01 am

I'm practicing Realtor for the last 16 years, including the last 8 years as an Associate Director.

Your case sounds like a typical "smelly leg (in hokkien)" landlord.
Not honoring contractual obligations are common disputes.

I hope you don't take it personally but what you wrote sounds like whining to me.
Complaining is not gonna solve your client's problem, it's your client's actions that counts.

Suggestions & Points to note:
1) Get a Letter from your client's company to authorise you to act on their behalf to recover the deposit.
2) Your $200 have limited mileage, CEA is not judge nor police to enforce your client's rights.
3) Small Claims Tribunals have jurisdiction to hear claims not exceeding $10,000. ($20K with mutual written consent.)
4) Complain to CEA that Chris Tan maybe working as a real estate sales person without licence.
5) Look for Landlord directly to ask for money, visit his home and office personally. (Check Inlis for address)
6) Last resort if all else fails, get a lawyer to write a Letter of Demand. If still don't pay up, get lawyer to visit Sub Court to issue a Writ of Distress (ie. Stick notices on Landlord's properties and auction items off to recover money).
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UberGold
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Wed Apr 06, 2011 3:40 am

Thanks for your response, motokah!

I am not 'whining', bro. Far from it. Just putting everything down in black and white to ascertain CEA's purported claims of 'protecting consumer's interests' and if I really bring people to kick Chris' residential door... at least I have did my part to seek redress.

I know where Chris stays.

Please do not jump to conclusions and I feel you could be 'trivialising' things and brushing things off... which is the stand of the 'authorities' which is the very reason why these cases are happening again and again. We need to bring things up another level into the open, to shine light on this rubbish that is happening and MAKE SURE it never happens again.

Going to court is silly. How many tenants are willing to go to court and wait 8 months for this?

How about someone already out of town? I can jolly well ignore everything since my client is ALREADY overseas. But I have integrity. So I am picking up the cudgel and making sure something happens.


You mentioned:

>>>> Your case sounds like a typical "smelly leg (in hokkien)" landlord.
Not honoring contractual obligations are common disputes.

Nothing to do with landlord since if that was the case, agent won't play disappearing games with me and just want to deal with tenant's secretary. Landlord is in Taiwan.

Also, when you write TYPICAL, it means that such cases happen and are prevalent. That is the very reason why it has to be STOPPED.
But I can tell you, most times, it is the agent who is cooking up the rubbish.


>>>>Complaining is not gonna solve your client's problem, it's your client's actions that counts.

My client cannot do anything as he is overseas, as stated clearly in the letter and also my response to you above. It is now up to me. Never underestimate the power of constructive feedback. Feedback, or in your opinion, Complaints, in constructive ways, actually CAN solve issues. Not only current issues, but prevent future issues. I already have the solution for this. I just need them to implement it. One letter from me 12 years ago changed the way The Port Of Singapore Authority (PSA) does their day-to-day as well. The Superintendent met me personally to thank me and apologised for the system failure and from then on, the procedure (of what I have written in on) was changed. This, of course, belongs to another story.



>>>>2) Your $200 have limited mileage, CEA is not judge nor police to enforce your client's rights.

WHAT is the purpose of CEA? No one has been able to answer this question.
WHY are we paying and WHAT are we paying for? Do you have a 'beyond a shadow of doubt' answer?



>>>>3) Small Claims Tribunals have jurisdiction to hear claims not exceeding $10,000. ($20K with mutual written consent.)

Landlord is in Taiwan. Tenant is in Paris. 'Smelly leg' agent refuse to return deposit. Perhaps lost it all in casino.

4) Complain to CEA that Chris Tan maybe working as a real estate sales person without licence.

>>> Isn't this a part of my email?

5) Look for Landlord directly to ask for money, visit his home and office personally. (Check Inlis for address)

>> Thanks but already done.



6) Last resort if all else fails, get a lawyer to write a Letter of Demand. If still don't pay up, get lawyer to visit Sub Court to issue a Writ of Distress (ie. Stick notices on Landlord's properties and auction items off to recover money).


>>>>This would be my first resort, short of going straight to Chris Tan's house to kick his front door. BigCorp Inc. has their own in-house lawyers. But I am giving CEA the benefit of doubt before this case proves them 100% useless in 'protecting consumers' interests'.

I am putting this case into the public view so that there is accountability.

Thanks for your views, bro! Much appreciated!




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mUAr_cHEe
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:18 am

I know I am stating the obvious but you are aware that this is a golf forum right? Do not think you will get much response here unless its from your fellow Agents.

Anyway, my comments with regard to...

UberGold wrote:
4) Complain to CEA that Chris Tan maybe working as a real estate sales person without licence.

>>> Isn't this a part of my email?


No. It is not part of your email. You got to write a separate letter to them with just the sole purpose and intent of the complaint of Chris Tan. In today's world, letter is preferably by email, registered mail, fax and by hand to the actual officer-in-charge. Repetition to these government bodies is to exercise the fact that you have used all possible ways of communication and also the implied pressure to them that you mean business.
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golfool2009
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Wed Apr 06, 2011 9:14 am

Ha...I moved around a lot for the first 7 years I was in SG...about 5 places...and many times, I dealt directly with the owner which made it painless....I was also very fortunate to have met an incredible agent...while her main priority was protecting the landlord's interests, also went out of her way to ensure I was not always at the losing end..

at the end of the other spectrum, I met this biatch of an agent, who willy nillly deducted my deposit and who rented out my apt before the end of my lease (though I had already moved out to my own place, I was still paying rent)....imagine my surprise when I showed up on what was my last day and the door was bolted from the inside and i could hear a couple banging in the bedroom (it was a small place).....

when i confronted the couple, i found out that the agent had happily rented out the place knowing that i wasn't around, lied to the couple that i was travelling and could not be reached even though we'd just spoke on the phone.....it was so much BS over a thousand bucks (not even the 5 figure sum you're talking about)....

this is when i realised that this system is broke....there's no protection for the consumer and the agents can act with impunity...it really depends entirely on the integrity and honesty of the agent you're dealing with.....
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Wed Apr 06, 2011 9:18 am

Err... you confronted them....when they were banging ????? Shocked
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Wed Apr 06, 2011 9:21 am

If its such a cowboy biz, why isn't it being by MBT? Why CEA or CASE making so difficult for people to make complaint?

May be there isnt any death in these traits, if not, it would be certainly be picked up by big shots...
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motokah
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:10 am

Hi UberGold,

Why are you chasing this mysterious Chris Tan?
Tenancy Agreement shld be signed between your Client's comany & the Landlord.
Does Chris Tan have Power of Attorney to act for Landlord?

It is the Taiwanese Landlord who is liable to refund the deposit to your Client's company.

Check the Landlord's name with ACRA database, some foreigners who owns residential properties often have offices here too.

You have never spoken directly to the Taiwanese Landlord, how do you know his position regarding this debt?

I strongly suggest you to personally find the Landlord or his legal representative in Singapore. If he is in Taiwan, find his address there and call him.

Often, the real threat of legal actions to recover debt can do wonders.

IMO, CEA is mainly a registrar for real estate agents.
If kanna to too many complains (from consumers & fellow agents), that agent can't practice anymore.
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Gray
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:10 pm

Ubergold i admire ur sense of responsibilty
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UberGold
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:54 pm

This was my follow-up email after 7 days of non-response from the authorities.

-------------------


Dear Minister, Madam and Sir,


Wow, I am amazed. It has been 7 days, a full week since I wrote to your attention and I am ABSOLUTELY AMAZED that all members of the board, and more surprisingly, even a respected Minister, would simply shrug your shoulders and look the other way... and not an iota of assistance rendered, solution offered nor even simply a courtesy email response to the sender. I am really, really amazed.

"Wow", is all I can say. I think this sincere attempt to reach out to you, answered by your brilliant response clearly shows how effective the CEA really is and what it stands when it comes to REALLY, concretely and effectively 'Protecting consumers' interests' in the real world.

I will not hesitate to publicise my findings.

Thank you very much for your attention.

------------------------------------------------------------------------


Last edited by UberGold on Wed Apr 06, 2011 3:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
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UberGold
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Wed Apr 06, 2011 3:29 pm

Thanks all.

Muar chee... I know this is a golf forum. Very Happy I love it!
It's the Lounge and therefore any topic is worth a discussion, right? Not only for 'fellow agents'.. but people on the streets as well. How would YOU like it if your daughter/mother/wife (think of someone 'defenceless') had her Security Deposit swallowed up by someone in a foreign country with NO ONE to turn to? How would that make you feel?

That's how I am feeling now because my clients are all very nice to me. I need to do something.

Also, this matter is posted on the forum as a vehicle of bringing the matter into public view... so that there can be accountability. This is not the only board my letter is on, but I thought to share with fellow golfers here since golfers can also spread the word while on the green. Very Happy Basically, with awareness, comes change. Should I shrug my shoulders too, until really, one of your loved ones get conned and abandoned for dead in this manner? Or should we do something now, before it happens to your family?

And my email actually covered the matter of Chris Tan being unlicensed.


CEA responded to me after my second email above (an assistant manager that I did not write to... I only wrote to the exec level) and arranged for a meeting with me.
He also informed me that Chris Tan is unlicensed. CEA would like more information and I am happy to provide it.




Motokah.... >>>Why are you chasing this mysterious Chris Tan?
>>>Tenancy Agreement shld be signed between your Client's comany & the Landlord.
>>>Does Chris Tan have Power of Attorney to act for Landlord?

Because I am responsible. Because the cheque from my client was passed through MY hands. Because years ago when he signed the agreement, I GAVE MY WORD that 'You will get back your Security Deposit at the end of the lease when we hand the property back in good condition'.

Understand?

I am sorry to tell you this, and it's not a personal attack, but if you have been in the industry for 16 years and are not even compelled to get your client's money back (money that passed through your hands).... why are you in the industry? To feed your family?
Your client fed your family. (The same client that you are asking why am I doing all this for).


>>>It is the Taiwanese Landlord who is liable to refund the deposit to your Client's company.

The agent is not making it easy. By avoiding calls instead of accounting to me, he is obviously part of the problem and not the solution.

>>>Check the Landlord's name with ACRA database, some foreigners who owns residential properties often have offices here too.

That is true and I do have his office address as well.

I am just waiting for CEA to stand by their claims to "Protect consumers' interests" before I storm into an office or home. Just giving the authorities a chance to do something before someone take matters into their own hands, that's all. CEA was formed to "Protect Consumers' Interests and Raise Industry Standards"... we have to give them a chance for them to be accountable, don't we?
Are you not curious at all what your $200 per year is for? To simply 'register'?
How about this? I set up a website, I pay, for all agents to register, FOR FREE....? No need to pay $200.
To make it better, I will allow agents to feedback on their co-brokers like on eBay. This will be provided for FREE and will EASILY raise the industry standard, literally overnight.


>>>>You have never spoken directly to the Taiwanese Landlord, how do you know his position regarding this debt?

The agent has not feedback anything with regards to this. Just playing disappearing game. Are you like this in your practice as well? And make co-brokers who happily closed deals with you and shook hands on happy terms... made you money as well, at the end of 2 years... do you make them do ninja investigative works and run here run there? Do you avoid phone calls? Why?

I don't. Most of my co-brokers are on good terms with me. And if there is an issue about landlord or tenant, I will tell them the truth and sort things out ASAP. Why avoid? If I avoid, it just means I have a problem. That is why I never avoid and am on good terms with most co-brokers.


>>>I strongly suggest you to personally find the Landlord or his legal representative in Singapore. If he is in Taiwan, find his address there and call him.

Because the agent is such an ass.... now I have to do all this.
Actually the game could be much easier.... just call the agent (whom I dealt with) and get the money back. And now he started playing all these games...... because the law does not deal with this blind spot..... and I have to pick up all the shit and run after him and landlord like a Private Investigator because I am responsible to my tenant.
If you rented a house from me 2 years, 4 years ago... you call me today, I would still have your number on my phonelist and would address you by your first name.


>>>>Often, the real threat of legal actions to recover debt can do wonders.

Threatened him via sms about Letter of Demand. He ignored.

>>>IMO, CEA is mainly a registrar for real estate agents.
If kanna to too many complains (from consumers & fellow agents), that agent can't practice anymore.

No bro, CEA really claims to 'Protect Consumers' Interest and raise standards'. Otherwise, why put the ex-chief of CPIB (anti-graft) to oversee things????
Call them and ask why are they there.

Mainly a registrar. Registrar for WHAT? Agents running around committing crime, they do nothing. Register for what, may I ask?

If I call them and lodge a case.... they tell me I must go to small claims, then obviously there is no such thing as you claimed "If kanna to too many complains (from consumers & fellow agents), that agent can't practice anymore". They don't even know who is the errant agent. And no one will pay $1000 to lodge a case to 'complain' against an agent. For what? Lose 5 figures not enough? Want to pay another $1000? Let's get real here.




Golfool, I understand your experiences first hand because I have seen and heard so much. It is great when you meet a responsible agent and takes great care of you, but when you meet a deadbeat.... there is NOTHING you can do because, as you correctly pointed out... the laws here do not protect consumers. Therefore, it is time for change.
CEA claims to protect consumers. I gave them money. So, they better put their money where their mouth is and make it happen. Otherwise, refund me (and all others) their money and scrap the Council. If there is no change.... why all the hoo-ha?


Khorkar...>>>>If its such a cowboy biz, why isn't it being by MBT? Why CEA or CASE making so difficult for people to make complaint?

May be there isnt any death in these traits, if not, it would be certainly be picked up by big shots...

Exactly. I agree with you. Why they make it so tough. This is why I raise attention to them and to the public before something serious happens. Also a pre-empt in case something bad happens to Chris Tan.


Gray....
Thank you bro, for your comment. I am just doing what I should do.

I am happy that my good client and friend just called me on the phone from Paris following his email to me, thanking me for my efforts on this matter.


At the end of the conversation, he said: I am glad to have been your client.

That makes it all worthwhile. I can't count the number of times he said Thank You to me in the conversation.

These are the clients that I cannot allow to fall into such 'Security Deposit Ransom' positions again.
And part of the reason I am leaving the industry is also due to the deadbeat agents... because there is no one to govern them. Too tired to sling a gun to hunt them down like this every time.
Something must be done and it darn well be done NOW.


"If you tolerate this, then your children will be next" - Manic Street Preachers

"Tolerance does nothing except to further cultivate and expand the condition that which you are tolerating" - UberGold

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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Wed Apr 06, 2011 4:04 pm

Our company faced almost the same problem - Deposit money given to the property agent which was suppose to use to secure the house rental end up never go thru (the house has rented to other) and the property agent refused to return back the money.
At first, she - the property agent, say that she will find for us another house but after seeing a few houses which doesn't fit in our requirement, she disappeared with the deposit money.
Called her numerous times and she keep on delaying the return. After 6 months of delays, we decide to make a complaint to CEA but we got the same answer - bring it to small claim court! File in a police report and the police tell us to look for CEA. Now we are considering to hire "professional debt collector" to knock on this agent door pig
The CEA is not a joke but they are serious at pointing us the correct direction, in this case, the small claim court Sleep
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Wed Apr 06, 2011 4:57 pm

JC, why would the police not handle your claim? If there were indication or allegation of fraud. Dont they come under penal code?
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:05 pm

Jimmychoo

Exactly... And the ones who do the right thing get pushed left and right. And no one handle the ones who exploit the loophole. Might as well all agents start being assholes and conmen! Then the society will degenerate and spiral downwards.

At least it is your company's money. Bad... but not so bad. Imagine it is your own savings to tide you over for next few months while you begin life in another country with no family to offer you help..... you could really be in deep s**t!

That's why I am championing that this loophole (Security Deposits) be plugged and CEA stop its shoulder shrugging or telling us to go to court to sue for such nonsense.

I have tried to bring someone to court... whole thing took 8 or 9 months and in the end, the clown didn't even show up in court.

He is already on the run for years, from creditors and credit card companies and even companies like NTUC, and government like the SAF (perhaps awol).

But thing is, he still had a mobile number! With today's global satellite positioning system, it is EASY for the police to pinpoint his exact location at any time.... but of course they UNWILLING to do it. If done, he would have been arrested in ONE DAY! Same for all the other criminals... just trace mobile number to pinpoint location.

Only thing for us to do was to call him and pretend as a customer so we can get him and give it to him really badly. And if he breaks a bone, we are liable.
That's the current loophole in the law of Singapore where everyone looks the other way.
Well done.

>>>The CEA is not a joke but they are serious at pointing us the correct direction, in this case, the small claim court

That makes CEA a joke because they are set up to 'Protect Consumers' Interests'.
I think some of my tattooed associates can do this job better than them. Without any government assistance nor mandatory yearly 'registration fees'. Pay per use!


Last edited by UberGold on Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:12 pm

Pushslice,

It won't make a difference. Police won't do anything. It is a fact. They will ask you to go to the Magistrate or hire your own lawyer. Small claims, or CEA. While CEA will tell you to go to the police then to small claims. Nice!

-------
On the other side of the coin, agents get conned too.

My story...

There was this guy (gang of 3) who would advertise to print flyers or distribute for agents. And you pay him the sum... they would do NOTHING.
They promise you artwork, delivery, even distribution with sms, collect advanced payment and POOF! Disappear.

Our hard work went totally down the drain when the artwork and materials I created and printed (good quality paper) was collected by them and discarded!!!! Paid them good distribution money and gave them reams and reams of our artwork and they totally thrown them away. Never to hear from them again.

Traced them, went to the house... no longer there.... old Malay couple said a lot of people always come to look for the same guy.

When this happened, we checked... they operated for more than 3 years already.

All you need is cheat about 4-5 agents per month throwing away their hardwork and you have a comfortable lifestyle! Not luxurious but you can certainly play golf 3 times a week.
They even have a bank account you can send money to for them to do 'artwork' for you!

Even with phone numbers, bank details, full names, etc..... the police tells you this is some civil or whatever case. Whatever they say, it will translate to: Go to small claims and sue someone (thinking that the hardened conmen will obediently take the letter and walk to court on time in a nicely pressed shirt).

We then spread the word and got together about more than 10 others who were conned by the group.

Set up meetings, in the end, about 8 came.

We agreed to individually lodge police reports and to go to court as a group and launch a magistrate's complain in force. 7 came.

After all said and done.... almost a year later... the guy didn't even show up for the hearing and a few of the agents already changed jobs.


Ta-da! The bad guys go off scot-free!!!! Very sweet.

And the story just repeats itself, again and again.




Last edited by UberGold on Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:19 pm

No, to the police interpretion, there is no fraud . The agent took the deposit money and tell us that she will return back to us but at a date that never arrive. The police say there is not enough evidence for them to take any action. We just have to keep on calling the agent, remind her to return us No
I think this case is like you lend some money to your friend and your friend keep on delaying to return the money back to you. So it don't come under penal code.
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:17 pm

UberGold,

In my 16 years in real estate agency business, I'm fortunate to not encounter cases as long drawn as yours.

Perhaps I'm a "do-er" type of person and not as patient as you. I would advise my Client to take legal actions recover any debts beyond 3 months.

I'm paid by my Clients who value my services, advise & recommendations regarding real estate.

I read your many complains in the above posts.
So I ask you:
1) What do you want CEA to do?
2) You know the Landlord's office, why didn't you go meet him to demand refund of deposit?
3) Since now you also know Chris Tan is not a licensed agent to act for Landlord, who you gonna approach for the refund of deposit?

Note:
1) Not honoring contractual obligations is not a crime, it's classified as commercial dispute.
2) Your Client's lease expired several months before CEA officially became a stat board.


Last edited by motokah on Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:29 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:23 pm

CEA rules state Real Estate Agents are not to handle cash on behalf of Clients.

So consumers be gotta be "Buyers Beware", ask for proof of ownership & issue cheque (or cashier order) to correct party.
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Wed Apr 06, 2011 7:22 pm

Yes motokah... very long and drawn out.

Because he keep telling us to wait and wait... then disappear... and then resurface (to tenant's secretary)... stall some time then disappear.

I am also glad to say, unlike your clients, none of my clients were ever advised by me to sue anyone because I make sure someone answers. I do my best, anyway. Many reasons for clients not to sue. Not in Singapore anymore, no cash, too much cash and famous, never ever want their names in a lawsuit, either as plaintiff or accused, etc... . Not everyone is in the capacity to show up in court 8 months later and go through all the hassle. To some people, 5-figures do not mean enough for them to go through all that. But that does NOT mean that they deserve to be cheated. Same goes for those clients where a few thousand dollars mean a lot and they actually counted on the return of their Security Deposit for their next move in another country.
For all these people, suing is simply NOT an option. It's not as easy as 'just sue' someone.


>>CEA rules state Real Estate Agents are not to handle cash on behalf of Clients.

Come on, CEA is only active... when? Few months ago. You know that.

And handling cheques that time... not cash. So your advice is not on the point of this thread anymore.

Besides, being in the industry for 16 years, you should know very well there are many many opportunities when handling cash is inevitable. Come on.
And in this cash, there was no cash.... all cheque.

Even recently, AFTER CEA was formed... there are agents who still withdraw cash on behalf of clients in the name of 'convenience', perhaps you may be one of those agents who help your clients by handling cash on their behalf as well. It's a very, very common thing. (And you know it).


>>>>So consumers be gotta be "Buyers Beware", ask for proof of ownership & issue cheque (or cashier order) to correct party.

A simple and actually irresponsible claim of 'Caveat Emptor' cannot apply in all cases. This case, we definitely know who the owner is. Proof of ownership and wrote cheque to the landlord (again, I am not a rookie agent).

That 'rule' about 'agents not allowed to handle cash' is simply to distance the authorities from any 'possible responsibilities' in the future. They will say, "SEE, I TOLD YOU not to give money to agents right"? And disadvantaged clients will not feel so much to 'report' anymore... since it is 'buyer's beware' and 'the rules say so'.

But that does not address the problem now... which is a revamping of the entire industry and plugging this loophole.

And this attitude, in fact, this 'rule' itself disadvantages clients, instead of 'protecting their interests'.

If 'buyer beware' really is a fix all... then no need for jurisdiction nor rules. All who invested in Lehman Brothers will not be compensated one cent and sellers of toxic toys would be allowed to continue to sell lead-laced toys to young children. Cabbages with radioactive nuclear particles will continue to sell in Cold Storage. Milk with melamine that causes death and brain damage will continue to be sold. (I saw a child whose brain was damaged by melamine poisoning. In a country with a one-child-policy, the child, from hopes, happiness and joy of both parents and the 4 grandparents and proud relatives, turned into pain, suffering, perhaps shame and a lot, a lot of tears for the entire family).
Homes will be build with recycled cardboard mixed with sand instead of concrete. (There ARE buildings constructed in exactly this way within our own vicinity with these mentioned materials, but I will not name the country for the sake of not arousing any national sentiments). Such is not the society I would like my children to grow up in. The authorities are here for a reason. And that reason is to make the whole place safer, FOR ALL. For you and me. And your children. And their children.


>>>1) What do you want CEA to do?

Good question. I would meet them and see what they would do. I will also update you guys.
I know what I want them to do, but before it is done, I will not mention it here.

>>>2) You know the Landlord's office, why didn't you go meet him to demand refund of deposit?

Did you read my letter? The agent claimed he is in Taiwan.
Also, I am giving the CEA a chance to do something before I go to agent's house.
Don't you know that you're BREACHING the unwritten rule when, as an agent, you go direct to the owner or tenant, who is not your client? It's a BIG NO NO in the industry.

You mean I should go to the landlord direct so that when there is a possible deal in the future (landlord may own many houses) that conflict with that agent, he may launch a case against me for 'UNDERCUTTING' for contacting his landlord? (In the event that he is a licensed agent)? I don't think so.

I prefer to honour unwritten codes. There is a thing called respect. Which is why I am going through with authorities that are set up to protect the industry and enforce certain rules. If that fails, then I will follow with other options. Publicity could prevent the authorities from failing. And I would need the help of everyone. Not just one person. And for those who know, to not turn a blind eye. That's when change begins to happen. When people are looking, listening, waiting for someone to account.

And in a way, I respect the person I deal with, so I give him the benefit of doubt. I dealt with the agent in the beginning, I want to deal with him in the end. No point crossing the line. He may break his principles and agreements, it does not mean I have to break mine.
That's why till now, I have refused to go look for the owner until after CEA gives some attention to the case. And after I spoke to CEA this Friday, at least there is a RECORD. After which I can go, or even ask CEA to go with me look for landlord. And the purpose of bringing this matter into the public is for this purpose of accountability.
We will also do something to Chris Tan... but for now, I will not disclose.

Also, I will provide the CEA with the solution to preventing similar Security Deposit Ransoms from happening again. I will update you guys as well.

See, a complain is not a complain when you can back it up with SOLUTIONS. It then becomes constructive feedback. But of course, I will demand accountability first.



>>>3) Since now you also know Chris Tan is not a licensed agent to act for Landlord, who you gonna approach for the refund of deposit?

Licensed or not does not matter, bro. I gave him the money. I go to him. He is unlicensed. He should be punished. And then we will go to the landlord.


>>>1) Not honoring contractual obligations is not a crime, it's classified as commercial dispute.

Taking illegal deposits is a crime. Theft is a crime. He took/withheld money that does not belong to him. That's criminal.

The 'commercial dispute' stance is what is causing all these problems in the first place. Loophole.
So this is the change I am aiming for.

>>>>2) Your Client's lease expired several months before CEA officially became a stat board.

Nothing to do with anything, my friend. This statement of yours also cancels out your statement that CEA says agents are not supposed to handle cash for clients because the lease was signed 2 years ago.

motokah, Are you interested that the industry improves? Or are you hell bent on asking me to suck thumb, give up, tell my client 'sorry I can't do anything for you because I don't want to move my ass' and then find the next poor victim/tenant and say, "Hey.... at the end of 2 years, if landlord/agent feels for any reason not to return you your money and hold you up for a ransom..... it's your own business, ok"?

Is that your suggestion at the end of it all?

This is an industry you are in. Don't you want to be proud of the standards set and professionals that are in it?
It is an industry I am leaving (and have begun turning away cases in preparation for my departure). And yet I am prepared to improve it before I leave.


Last edited by UberGold on Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:42 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Wed Apr 06, 2011 10:21 pm

UberGold... good for you mate, wish there were more like you!

I have been screwed so many times by Agents. The 1st one, I pay the rent to his account to pass to the owner... then months later the owner bang on my door demanding his back rent...

To the latest one I buy a place the sellers agent will not even pass my offer to the seller unless I pay him 1%. Now I am paying both sides...

Ha! they change the rules so you dont pay both sides I am told... what to do I say, I dont pay he dont pass offer...

And I have stories in between...

You are right the system sucks... but "what to do" !!!!
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:27 am

shorthitter bro, I am so sorry to hear of your predicament. I apologise to you on behalf of the industry for some of your deals where you felt disadvantaged.

Yes, the 'system sucks', to paraphrase you... but it's because there is no system. It's just cowboy.

>>>To the latest one I buy a place the sellers agent will not even pass my offer to the seller unless I pay him 1%. Now I am paying both sides...

Ha! they change the rules so you dont pay both sides I am told... what to do I say, I dont pay he dont pass offer...


This is quite ridiculous. Why don't you look for another property/agent? Sounds like another 'ransom' type of agent. Unless the property is dirt cheap like in a fire sale. But true fire sales are few and far between nowadays... most sellers have holding power.


>>>You are right the system sucks... but "what to do" !!!!

My answer: Whatever one can do.

Good luck to your property purchase and hope you meet more great agents who do the right thing. There are such agents around. The same goes for any profession. From lawyers to doctors to milk farmers. There are the good and the bad. What we need is a solid system, cleared of loopholes to make sure everyone who steps in are treated fairly.

All the best!
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:53 am

UberGold,

I'm not referring to your case when I wrote abt Agent handling cash & buyers beware. It was meant as a warning to fellow GR members when dealing with real estate agents.

Yours and my approach to bad debts are different.
Readers may also notice the differences in how we write our posts in this thread.

I'm direct, my purpose is to solve problem within shortest time & with minimum effort.
Both my client's time and my time are precious.
When I've verified the debtor is a "true smelly leg", I will advise my client to take decisive actions at soonest possible time to achieve desired (or close to desired) results and then all parties can move on to other matters.

Your way.... >6 months passed and still waiting.

1) I sincerely hope your suggestions to CEA would further protect consumer's interest.
However, my heart tells me there will never be a perfect system as humans are who work the system arn't perfect. Of course that doesn't mean we shouldn't improve the system.

2) I personally feels absolutely nothing wrong to directly approach the Landlord to ask for refund of deposit as his agent is not doing his job. I'm not stealing business from that agent, my sole purpose is ask for refund on behalf of ex-Tenant.

You have not spoken to Landlord, so you dunno what Chris Tan did or didn't do on behalf of the Landlord.

Are you gonna suggest CEA to hold cash deposit or Landlords to accept Banker's guarantee or insurance bonds from Tenant?

3) You reasoning have caused your client to lose more time & interest on his money.

Note:
1) If Police is not interested in your case (eg. not cheating nor fraud), it is not a crime.
I wonder you really know who is with-holding the refund of deposit, Landlord or Chris Tan?

2) CEA may not have jurisdiction on a Tenancy that expired before CEA itself was officially formed.

Ultimately, the Tenancy Agreement is a contract between Landlord and Tenant. Both Chris Tan & you are third parties unless either have Power of Attorney. Agents can only advise & recommend, it's upto the 2 primary parties to take relevant actions whether to pay back deposit or demand refunds.

Best wishes to your next profession or business venture.
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:10 am

Hey motokah, thanks for your response!


>>>You reasoning have caused your client to lose more time & interest on his money.


That would be very wrong. To get my client ( number 2 in a S$13.8 billion company) to FLY down here to engage, meet and file with a lawyer, then to SUE.... and FLY back here 8 months later to attend court, when I suspect Chris may not even show up.... .
Would that be shorter? Would that save my client's interest? Would that save him time, really?

Do you think he or the company wants his name in a lawsuit? Have you really even thought of the possible repurcussions? Come on. You are oversimplifying things.

Please read my post again because I updated it. Thanks!

It is much easier for a CEA-sanctioned knock on Chris' door, despite his deliberate avoidance, don't you think ?

>>>When I've verified the debtor is a "true smelly leg", I will advise my client to take decisive actions at soonest possible time to achieve desired (or close to desired) results and then all parties can move on to other matters.

Have you sued anyone before? Have you sat beside the client waiting for the case before?
I hope some lawyer can answer and tell you how LONG it will take and how troublesome it is to really actually sue someone. CASES LIKE THIS CAN TAKE MORE THAN A YEAR. WITH NO CONCLUSION. Trust me.

It is not really 'decisive actions at SOONEST possible time to achieve desired results' at all.
Suing someone is the LAST resort. Never the first. My client's company is huge. They have their very own IN-HOUSE PANEL OF LAWYERS, if they really want to sue... do you think wait until today for you to suggest for them to sue someone in the Court of Singapore? Come on.


>>>Ultimately, the Tenancy Agreement is a contract between Landlord and Tenant. Both Chris Tan & you are third parties unless either have Power of Attorney. Agents can only advise & recommend, it's upto the 2 primary parties to take relevant actions whether to pay back deposit or demand refunds.


I certainly have to say I do not agree with this. And I believe all my clients will agree with me and want me to be responsible. How would you feel if you went to a doctor for a surgery... and you leave the hospital feeling great. One day, one of the equipment implanted inside you to improve your health malfunctions... you panic and can't breathe, and rush to see the doctor... saying that was not what was SUPPOSED to happen!
Guess what? Your doctor shrugs his shoulders and looks at you and say: Well, I was the one involved in your case, yes. But this, this malfunctioning of equipment inside you.... is really between YOU and MANUFACTURER. I have done my job. Why not you go and sue him?

So, in the meantime, you have the malfunctioning medical equipment inside you and you sue him.... do you really think you can last that long? 8 months until hearing? Maybe manufacture ALREADY went bust. So you will be left to lick your wounds. Or worse.

Or would you prefer a doctor who is responsible and MAKE the manufacturer answer? Immediately, without you going to court? And at the same time, hopefully change your equipment for you?

I would prefer to trust the doctor who adopts the second path.



Last edited by UberGold on Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:16 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:11 am

jimmychoo,

I think you can complain to CEA if that agent is licensed & is still holding onto your money.
See -> www.cea.gov.sg/cea/content/consumer/complaints/makingcomplaint.html



shorthitter,

If you can verify the agent is indeed collecting commission from both sides, eg. written confirmations or recorded conversations.
You can buy the house first, then complain to CEA rdg that agent.
Even if that agent try to get another a third party agent to collect commission from you, you can accuse them of colluding.

You'll need evidence to proof to CEA in order to avoid paying that additional commission.
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PostSubject: Re: Who else thinks the 'Council Of Estate Agents' is a joke?    Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:26 am

UberGold,

You seems unwilling to meet the Landlord to solve your client's problem.
Looks somewhat like you've been running in circles for >6 mths.

It has been more than half a year with no conclusion.
Do you doubt the effectiveness of Lawyer's Letter of Demand & threat of Writ of Distress from Subordinate Court in persuading debtors to pay up ASAP?

I have no futher comments.
Goodnight!


Last edited by motokah on Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:32 am; edited 1 time in total
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