These Are The Moments I Am Not Too Proud To Be A Singaporean

Avid readers of my site know that I love my new home here. But, there are moments like tonight that I am not too proud of who I am. My friend shares the same birth town as me and she lived in Australia for a few good years. Just recently she has decided to try out Singapore and as a proud Singaporean, I did not hesitate to show her around. I even got my friend’s wife to try to find her an accommodation (that unfortunately was beyond her budget). And since we work at the same workplace (different building though), I got to hear about how she adapts to the environment here. I have been there, done that, and I know exactly what she is going through.

She found a new place (an entire 2-room HDB flat) to rent on her own a few months back. The rent was reasonable and the location is pretty centralized. After she moved in, her nightmare began. Her landlady kept visiting the apartment with and without her presence. My friend didn’t have a sense of privacy and one day, her landlady suddenly demanded a raise in rental – hardly a month after my friend settled in. Not wanting to bear the extra cost, she has decided to move out.

And then the hassle started to sink in. Her landlady kept calling her in the middle of the night to demand compensation, countless excuses such as the poor condition of the place after my friend settled in. Oh please, I visited her home back then and my friend is definitely not that kind who vandalizes. Her landlady even called our HR, faxed to her office in large font with the claim that my friend owes her money and so on.

My friend couldn’t take it and she filed a report to the police. Guess what? The police couldn’t help either because it is not a domestic violence. There is no blood involved (read: physical harm). So, my friend went to the court (you must understand that she is pretty Westernized and prefers to settle things through the law) and the judge told her: get a lawyer, there is nothing we can do here in Singapore. She was hoping for a refrain order but of course, there are none here.

Then I told her: you should have told me earlier. I would have a face-to-face with her landlady and settle it the Singapore way. Well, coupled with some other unpleasant experience she has here in Singapore (pure bad luck, sigh), my friend has decided to move out of Singapore for good. She is my friend so I support all her decisions. But from now till then, I promise to introduce her to my female network of friends so that she can have someone to do nails with, do facial with … something very fundamental to the female species but yet not everyone has that privilege.

I knew one day the feminine side of me will pay off. Saving one friend one day at a time.

Related blog entry: A Ridiculous S$1,000 Claim Against My Friend By Her Ex-Landlady.

16 thoughts on “These Are The Moments I Am Not Too Proud To Be A Singaporean”

  1. oh… using the Singaporean way of speaking… ‘oh, she is so poor thing…’ I hope you can help her settle her dispute with the landlord and end the nightmaire.

    Bro, let her have my contact and we can meet each other. =) I think we can have a good time with each other talking about the adaptation to a new country. Girls’ talk sometimes is more healing than nail polishing or facial.

    Btw, I actually have another HK female friend who came to Singapore one month earlier than me. In fact, she also had a bad experience recently about her relationship and she is now looking for accommodation too. She is also working in CBD. She is a very nice and kind lady. I don’t know whether they wish to share a flat together so that they can have the mutual support. May be this is a good idea… Let’s see… 🙂

    1. This is the experience to share with you guys . Never ever rent a room at Clementi west 2 (opp Seng Shiong super mart). Even though this single Chinese old lady, private Chinese teacher , rents the master bedroom , she likes to enter the tenant’s room when tenant was not around. She likes to use tenants’s cooking stuffs like onion, oil, vegetables, coffee mix when tenant was not around. Worst thing ever is took tenant dishes without getting offer. Big thief ever met. Although works as a teacher, behaves like low class uneducated person. Lastly when tenant could not help her for her personal stuffs (applying visa for her PRC relatives) , due to some troubleshooting at Singpass, she was mad like crazy. Asked tenant why was it so troublesome to use Singpass. She does not accept the explanation and thought tenant was not willing to help. So poor uneducated person who still staying at stone era although there is a satellite at surrounding.

  2. Oh man, that really sucks.
    I am ashamed to hear that story.

    Oh well, sometimes, I am ashamed to be Singaporean too.

    We are supposed to be a developed country. However, I feel that many areas need far more development than the developing countries.

    I am sorry that happened to your friend.

  3. I think it was pure unlucky to have a landlady like that, trying to use this “relatively good market” opportunity to reap in more money.

    It happens everywhere, though…not just Singapore. Even in a so-called developed country like the US, everything is settled through court. Of course, out-of-court is the best (saves both parties the $) but sometimes, it just can’t be helped. Sigh….

  4. Lora – It’s already planned! I am going to introduce my friend to you next week. Thanks for your help! Currently her landlady seems to have left her alone. But still, the bad taste lingers.

  5. G – I know. At times stories like that get me down a bit. My friend also finds it strange that some Singaporeans answer phone calls inside a movie theatre.

  6. Tigerfish – The property market has been boiling in Singapore and somehow, many landlords are demanding much, much higher rent.

    You are right. Conflict happens everywhere. It just feels a bit different when it happens in home country. The judge said to my friend: go change the phone number.

  7. ECL – I guess she wasn’t really in the position to negatiate on contract terms. First it is the landlord’s market and second, she was new to Singapore and urgently needed to find a place to stay. No worries. I have your site address and will certainly call for help if needed to! Cheers!

  8. Anybody knows whom whould I contact if I am being harassed by my landlord?
    My tenancy ends in 5 more days and she is really making life difficult for us.

    – shouting and screaming at us.
    – insisting we leave our rooms unlock despite still having our belongings in our rooms. (We are not staying in our rooms and are in the midst of moving our belongings bit by bit.
    – Changing the padlock when we are out of town.
    – She’s cleaning the whole place up even when we bear the full PUB charges.

    I have informed the agent, landlady to be present when we move out on the 9th (the last day is actually ont he 10th)

    The whole situation is getitng out of hand and this is a very long story as we are genuinely being harassed by the landlady with her screaming and shouting at us to either move out sooner than the stipulated date. She is being extremely unrerasonabe and would not let us have a single word in during her rampage. Should I call the police? But then I will not have a place to stay during my relocating period. Can I sue her for causing me undue distress? She insisted on checking our rooms. I have informed her that she can check once we have moved out all of our belongings. Also on the date of the final move, I have already arranged an appointment with the agent and her to be present. We need to surender our keys to her and also to collect our deposit from her during that day.

    Please help anyone.

    Totally helpless….

  9. Solange – I feel for you. I have also rented places in Singapore before and recently, I have another friend who also got into some sort of dispute with her landlord. There is actually a continuation to the blog entry you have just read. The story continues by clicking here.

    There are a few things you can do to safeguard yourself from unfair treatment potentially in the future when your landlady may choose to withhold your deposit. Like what my friend did, she actually filed a police report at the local station for future reference. You may choose to do the same should you feel harassed. You may also take pictures of the existing condition of the place. Who knows what the landlord may say in time to come? Also, during the hand over of the keys, make sure documents are signed to properly acknowledge this handover process. Your landlady may choose to withhold a certain amount for the outstanding PUB bills and etc. Pen them down in black-and-white and get her to sign.

    Unfortunately, to sue your landlady for emotional distress is a long and expensive process. If there is real financial implication, you may try the Small Claims Tribunal – that is if you have concrete proof of financial damage.

    My 5 cents advice is to safeguard yourself from all potential abuse in the future by the landlady (everything in black-and-white!). If situation is getting way out of hand like for this few days’ time, you may wish to pay the police a visit at the station. Even if just to file a report (and show it to her!), it may come in handy in the future – if not as a deterrence to your landlady’s outrages actions upon you right now.

    Best of luck and keep us in the loop!

  10. I will be returning to Singapore on the 8th morning to pack up and stay over for a nite before flying off to for good. My only hope is that I do not face furthe harassments from her. I only want to relocate in peace. I will listen to your advice Wilfrid and will pepare the proper documentation for all of us to sign and acknowledge in the handling over of the keys and such matters.

    I have called a police friend whom will be with me on the morning of the 8th to act as a witness. My boyfriend will be with me too. So I think I should be safe, however there’s this heavy feeling of dread and distaste for this impending visit to the house of horror….

    I will keep you guys in the loop later on in the hopes that my experiences will help prevent similar issues for future foreigners who wish to work and relocate in Singapore.

    Thanks so much for letting me know that I am not alone in this.

  11. Solange – You are certainly not alone. Check this out, one friend of mine after moving out of her old rented place has her deposit deducted for S$330 for the servicing of aircon units including the dismantling process because it is very ‘dirty’. Think about this, she only stayed in that place for a year. People don’t dismantle outdoor units every year to clean. Personally I don’t think it is fair but you know, one thing about rental market in Singapore is that it is not well regulated. And most agents I dare say are just in for the money. Do they really care about the end-to-end process from the tenant perspective? Maybe, maybe not.

    I am happy to hear that you will have friends to be with you during the handover of keys. From what I read, your landlady should be blacklisted from renting out her place! Best of luck for your relocation. Out of Singapore or still within Singapore?

  12. Hi Wilfrid,

    The aircon servicing pat is what concerned me. Come this 10th March, 2008 we’d have only stayed at that place for 6 months. When I informed the landlady in advance regarding our wish to terminate the rental (it is minimum 6 month’s stay afterall), she’d retorted that “it is might as well since she’d had the intention to terminate the rental herself after the Chinese New Year as her daughter intends to move into the place.” I felt better after her telling me this but not 2 weeks after this, she’d started with her nonsense.

    Anyway, I will be relocating out of Singapore for good. Sad to say, it has been 1 bad experience to another. Though I’ve made good friends here and that is the best consolation for me. It is true that the rental market in Singapore is not regulated and those wishing to work here or migrate here definitely has to be careful when renting.

    Thank you so much for this. As for the aircon servicing, I will definitely have to be more careful when dealing with this issue in these few days.

  13. Solange – Hope to see you visiting Singapore as a tourist next time instead? 🙂 Should the key handover experience falls below your expectation, please write in to our Straits Times forum. In some cases, they do publish these unfair treatments especially when one has decided to leave Singapore for good. To the least, raise some awareness for us.

    Wishing you the best and … you are most welcome to drop by my site from time to time 🙂

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