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Case Studies

Agents jailed
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Two Jailed for duping condo owner to sell at lower price. (ST 5 Nov 1996)
Two property agents duped the owner of a Balmoral View condominium unit into selling her apartment for $1.27 million, knowing very well there was a higher offer of $1.45 million from a second buyer.
The two La Choice Property agents, Esther Chin Wan King, 35, and her boss, May Kwong Ling Yi, entered into a deal with the first buyer whereby he was to re-sell the same property at $1.45 million to the second buyer.
The first buyer, Mr Ng Kam Ting, stood to gain $180,000 from the sale. He promised to pay "extra commissions" of $12,700 to Chin and $14,500 to Kwong's company for their help.
Apart from these payments, the accused were also supposed to receive their "legal" commission of $12,700 from the owner.
But the scam fell through when the owner, Madam Alice Yau, learnt about the secret deal about two months after papers wre signed.  She then reported the case to the Corrupt Practices Investigations Bureau.
Yesterday, chin was jailed nine months while Kwong was jailed six months for the offence, which took place in February last year.
Chin had a second charge taken into consideration for trying to obtain $7,250 from the second buyer, Mr Neo Poh Kiat, by supposedly helping him to lower the "original" selling price of $1.55 million, based on the valuation report, to $1.45 million.
The two agents and Madam Yau are all Hongkongers, but the two accused had migrated to Singapore more than 10 years ago.  The claimed trail initially but changed their plea on Friday after a 16-day hearing.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Toh Han Li, who was assisted by Miss Janet Wang, told District Judge Adrian Soon that Madam Yau wanted to sell her condominium unit in July 1994 so that she could buy another unit at Crystal Tower, off Bukit Timah Road, where here sister lived.
Her sister, who had known Chin since 1985, then engaged Chin to be one of the agents.
In January last year, Mr Ng, a Hongkonger and a friend of Kwong, wanted to buy an apartment. In the same month, Mr Neo, a Singaporean living in Hongkong, approached Kwong through his friend to buy a condominium unit here.
The two accused then arranged for Madam Yau first to sell her property to Mr Ng, and subsequently for Mr Ng to sell it to Mr Neo. madam Yau has since refused to complete the deal.
The Straits Times understands taht a civil suit between the buyer and seller of the property is pending at the Highh Court.
Yesterday, Chin's lawyer, Mr Sant Singh, and Kwong's lawyer, Mr Dennis Tan, said their clients were remorseful for what they had done.
Chin is married with two teenage sons while Kwong has three daughters and a son, aged between eight and 21.  Their lawyers said they had no formal training or experience in property transactions. Madam Yau was Chin's first "successful" client and Kwong's second client, the first being her husband.

chats about not so professional agents

Lessons Learnt
1) It is a criminal offence to keep secret profits.
2) It is the fiduciary duty of seller-agent to disclose whatever offer he has received from buyers to the owner.

Illegal tenants.


Streats, 21 Nov 2000
reported that Mr Joseph Lui Hang Yin, 54, a senior associate manager with Citiwide Realty International,  probably because the first housing agent to be successfully prosecuted yesterday in a case of harbouring immigration offenders.

He was sentenced to 18 months jail for abetting Madam Tan Sock Meng, the owner of a Serangoon Road apartment, a 72-year-old landlady in renting out her apartment to illegal immigrants.

Under the law, it is the responsibility of ther landlord to carry out sufficient checks to ensure that the tenants are not illegal immigrants. 

Mr Lui promised to coduct the necessary checks for her and introduced 2 Chinese nationals.  Mr Liu was paid commission of $800 and $500 from the Landlord and tenant respectively after the tenancy agreement was signed on July 5, 1999 between the Landlord and Huang Guo Ping. 

The Deputy Public Prosecutor R D Gangatharan argued that the onus was for Mr Liu to verify the documents ad that Lui had ignored that "Huang'" employment pass had already expired and that no original documents were given to Madam Lau, the daughter of the Landlady.  The DPP urged the court to impose a heavier sentence as Liu had been previously convicted of cheating and criminal breach of trust.

District Judge See Kee Oon said: "Liu had blithely chosen to disregard what were highly suspicious circumstances and he "deliberately ignored all the signs" pointing to the tenant's illegal status.





Landlady gets jail sentence for harbouring illegal immigrants

  A retired widow was jailed on 27 Nov 2000 for harbouring illegal immigrants. Paridah Sanip, 63, a former civil servant, was sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty to renting rooms in her home to two Indonesian women who had overstayed their social visit passes. (Straits Times 28 Nov 2000)

     'Landlord' cheats prospective tenants

  A couple raked in almost S$40,000 by collecting deposits for rooms they never intended to rent out. They cheated 47 people over three months by running newspaper advertisements for rooms in their rented flat, showing them to prospective tenants and demanding a deposit for holding the rooms. PHAN Quee Yew, 49, and his 39-year-old live-in girlfriend, who has also been charged, then skipped town with the deposits, which ranged from S$300 to S$2700. A district court this week sentenced PHAN to three years in jail after he pleaded guilty to 10 counts of cheating. (Straits Times 24 Nov 2000)

  An elderly man and woman were convicted and sentenced to seven months' jail each on 12 Oct 2000 for harbouring a Myanmar overstayer. But YAP Yoke Moi, 64, a widow, and her friend, MOOI Shong Chee, 74, a former shipyard department head, who intend to appeal, had their sentences deferred till next week. (Straits Times 13 Oct 2000)

     Law requiring Stainless-steel brackets for air-conditioners comes into effect

     The new law requiring homeowners to replace all wooden brackets with stainless-steel brackets for air- conditioners mounted in wall openings or windows in all buildings except landed homes comes into effect from 1 Oct 2000. Homeowners who have not yet replaced such wooden brackets face a fine of up to S$5000 and up to six months in jail.

     MP may ask for review of punishment guidelines for harbouring illegals

  Mr CHNG Hee Kok, who heads the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Home Affairs and Law, told The Straits Times on 27 Sep 2000 that he may ask the government to review the punishment guidelines for harbouring illegal immigrants. He said the law should allow the judiciary more discretionary powers, to be lenient in cases involving elderly landlords who are illiterate or tricked into renting out their apartments unknowingly. 

     Landlady jailed for mandatory 6 months for renting apartment to overstayers

  73-year-old WONG Yue, an illiterate widow, was jailed for six months on 28 Sep 2000 for renting out her apartment to five Indonesians who overstayed. A district court heard that she had rented out a 16th floor unit at the Pearl bank Apartments to five Indonesian men whose social-visit passes had expired. (Straits Times 29 Sep 2000)

     Landlord jailed for not checking sub-tenant's immigration status

  A 68-year-old retired quantity surveyor who failed to check his sub-tenant's immigration status, was jailed for six months on 30 Aug 2000 for harbouring an illegal immigrant. Ang Joo Kwee, alias Wee Joo Kwee, had checked his tenants' work permits and immigration status with the authorities before he let out the apartment. But he did not verify the immigration status of his sub-tenant, Chen Choon Lian, 41, whom one of his tenants subsequently took in.

     Chief Justice Yong Pung How on sub-letting of flats to illegal immigrants

  A landlord cannot be held liable for the acts of his tenants who sub-let his flat to illegal immigrants without his knowledge. Chief Justice Yong Pung How made this ruling recently when he clarified a point of law under the Immigration Act which holds landlords and employers liable for harbouring the illegal immigrants. Under the law, landlords are responsible for checking their foreign tenants' background carefully. But, CJ Yong noted that this did not mean that all landlords found with illegal immigrants in their flat would be guilty. They must first have a "guilty mind", he pointed out in the Law Academy Digest. But if something was done without their knowledge, especially in cases where the tenants are the culprits who allow the illegal immigrants into the flats, then landlords should not be penalised. (ST 28 Aug 2000) 

    Landlords can check on foreign tenants' immigration status online

     Landlords and homeowners can now check their foreign tenants' immigration status on the Internet. Information on immigration passes can be verified at, while work passes can be checked at MOM. The new on-line verification system became available yesterday.

     Land and property owners to take due care when renovating their premises

  Land and property owners must ensure that any excavation work they do on their own land does not affect or damage the property next door. If they fail to take preventive measures, for example, by building retaining or support walls, they will be liable to pay hefty compensation if cracks or other faults appear on their neighbour's property. Singapore's highest court, the Court of Appeal, made this ruling on 24 Jul 2000, overruling an archaic English land law which, for 120 years, has allowed land owners free use of their proper

Renting Out? Beware!

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