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How can tenants protect themselves at the end of the lease?

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  1. #1

    How can tenants protect themselves at the end of the lease?

    Okay, so from other previous posts across different forums, I've so far read that tips for handing back the property to the landlord include:

    - making sure the place is clean.
    I always do anyway, but will do so extra in case this greedy landlord makes an excuse to charge cleaning costs (Do landlords ever get away with charging cleaning costs?).

    - taking pictures and videos of every nook and cranny and trying to get landlord in picture too during handover.
    This would be kept as evidence in case the landlord tries to make me pay for damages that I did not make.

    - consider withholding the last 2 months' rent
    This is instead of knowing you'll not get it back from a greedy landlord (not for all landlords)

    Unfortunately, I am having to deal with a greedy, unreasonable landlord so I have given my notice to move out as soon as possible and for the first time, I am feeling very anxious about handing back the flat even though it is kept in good condition, and as good as all the other places I've rented who have given back the full deposits without hesitation.

    I don't know if I was lucky or not with the previous places I've rented where I did not do my DD before renting, but all previous landlords were nice and fair and I have never had these kind of problems before. However, with this kind of landlord, who has begun trying to make my life hell, I don't think I can get away with not being properly prepared for a difficult time when handing back the flat.

    It serves me right for not being more careful in choosing the landlord and just selecting a suitable flat, but at least I can help myself by being more prepared for handing back the flat and of course, better late than never, try choose a "good" landlord (not easy to do, I know, cos how many tenants actually get to know or have even meet their landlords) but at least ask more questions about the landlord to try prevent this unpleasant situation happening again.

    So I have a number of questions.

    1.
    Is it a normal and expected requirement for the landlord and tenant to sign a letter when handing back the flat?
    I remember I was automatically given letters from the previous landlords to confirm that the keys have been received by the landlord and no costs were owed by any party. These were signed by both tenant and landlord before leaving.
    I am asking just case this current landlord tries not giving me one of these letters. I have thought about creating my own letter to confirm keys handed back and that the flat is in good condition, but I don't know if this landlord will sign it whether the flat is in good condition or not just to give me a hard time.

    2.
    Who should I allow into the flat for inspection and handing back the keys?
    I am expecting the landlord to bring a few people, including their biased agents to try and give me some grief during the process.
    Unfortunately, no-one I know can be there with me during the hand-over!

    3.
    Should a tenant decide to withhold the last 2 months rent (which I have read on these forums can be a normal practice in HK) then how would that tenant handle the handing back situation?
    The letter (in no. 1) would not be expected right, especially if the landlord would not be happy that the rent was withheld? I cannot imagine that the landlord will sign the letter even if I produced one. Does the tenant just open the door, place the key down and leave in this kind of situation? Or does the tenant wait for the (unreasonable greedy) landlord to inspect the place first before leaving?

    I have even thought about keeping a box of my (non-valuable/unwanted) possessions at the flat in case there are any problems like being physically forced out of the flat (I wouldn't put it pass them to do this, esp if I don't have anyone on my side as witness to it all!) so that if they tried to remove the box themselves and try forcing me to hand back the keys and out of the flat, then would that not be classed as theft, since I can say that the property has not been properly handed back?

    I know it is best to get the situation recorded, but it feels a bit strange to do this and I don't think the landlord will accept a camera being stuck in his face the whole time. I don't want my camera to be snatched off me and all the evidence gone too either (again, I wouldn't put it pass him and his agents to do this also).

    Any other things I should expect or I should do to protect myself as the tenant?

    It is a shame that I have had to come across such a greedy unreasonable landlord to have to think about doing things I would never usually think of doing and to have to worry so much!

    If you have any practical tips and advice, please share.

    Thanks all.


  2. #2

    You could do all of those things and still be left with no security deposit.


  3. #3

    Join Date
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    there is no end to this argument. you can find some interesting posts from past. people debated passionately about this here and as far as i understand, its easy for landlord to dictate the terms.


  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by PKS_2000:
    there is no end to this argument. you can find some interesting posts from past. people debated passionately about this here and as far as i understand, its easy for landlord to dictate the terms.
    Very frustrating indeed!

  5. #5

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    After inspection hand over the keys and deposit in cash at the same time. If landlord doesn't give you the deposit back you keep the keys.

    TheBrit likes this.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Drunken Master:
    After inspection hand over the keys and deposit in cash at the same time. If landlord doesn't give you the deposit back you keep the keys.
    You mean if the last 2 months rent is withheld, then actually hand the deposit in cash to the landlord and then only give back the keys if the landlord returns the deposit? This may work with a reasonable landlord, but doubtful for the type of greedy landlord I currently have.

    The landlord has been unreasonable and I have no doubt he will find anything to deduct the deposit from anything he makes up as damaged by me during inspection. I have no confidence to do it this way with an unreasonable landlord.

    And if I keep the keys, how long for? Having a few of them and one of me will mean extending an already unpleasant experience, so I want to avoid that if possible and make it as quick as possible.

    If we come to a deadlock - e.g. landlord won't give back deposit and I won't give back the keys, and the landlord leaves, then would I not be responsible to keep paying extra rent for every extra day the keys are not handed back?

    And what happens if the landlord won't accept the keys?

    If I left the keys at the property while the landlord is there during the hand over meeting, does that class as legally handing back the property?
    Or does it only count when the tenant receives the letter signed by the landlord stating that the keys have been received?

  7. #7

    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drunken Master:
    After inspection hand over the keys and deposit in cash at the same time. If landlord doesn't give you the deposit back you keep the keys.
    He can change lock.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by PKS_2000:
    He can change lock. ������
    Not legally.

  9. #9

    So if the tenant does not hand back the keys, then the landlord has no right to change the locks or throw any possessions you have there out in case the attempted hand over did not take place?


  10. #10

    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by hongkongiser:
    So if the tenant does not hand back the keys, then the landlord has no right to change the locks or throw any possessions you have there out in case the attempted hand over did not take place?
    They need to go to court to recover possession. They can't simply break in.

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