Trouble getting your rental deposit back
The standard procedure in Bangkok when renting a condominium or apartment unit for a year or longer, is for you to deposit with the landlord 2 times the monthly rental amount. This money is held by the landlord until you move out, interest free a deposit against damage caused not through wear or tear, or against the tenant doing a runner without paying utilities or rent. Everyone who has rented has had to pay this deposit, but not everyone has got it back!
Most articles that I write are based on my experiences as a real estate agent in Bangkok. My last article was about property buyers keeping all of their paperwork safe. The same of course applies for people who are renting.
A colleague of mine recently learnt about this and is at the beginning of an uphill struggle. I’m glad to say that he was not a client of mine, because he rented a unit in the Nana area and the person that he rented the unit from was not actual the unit owner.
There are many individuals who own second and third properties in Bangkok, in fact some people have so many condominiums I loose count. In this case, the owner of the condominium unit had provided a shop owner in the condominium with a set of keys, and this shop owner was doubling as a letting agent.
My friend paid his advance rent and the 2 months deposit to the shop owner. Everything was good, until he moved out and asked for the deposit back. This was followed by an entourage of delay tactics that only a seasoned professional could pull off. When he asked about why it was taking so long to receive his deposit, some inspirational excuse would follow.
Eventually he managed to obtain the correct contact details of the owner from the building management. The owner informed him that he had never received a security deposit. The plot thickens...
It has since come to my attention that it is not only my friend who has experienced similar difficulties with this shop owner. Fortunately, my friend has kept the receipt that he got from the shop keeper, and he has a witness to the payment. This story is still happening and he may have to contact the police to speed up a conclusion.
Back when I was managing condominiums myself, we had an incident where someone had paid the 2 months deposit to an agent, who mysteriously vanished into a puff of smoke. It was an expensive building in Bangkok and the amount paid was quite a lot. Luckily in this case, the police caught up to the thief.
The main things to bear in mind is be weary, get copies of I.D. cards and receipts and of course keep these somewhere safe, check with the building manager that the person you are dealing with is the actual owner, or if not the actual owner then make sure they have a power of attorney and an original signed I.D. copy from the owner allowing them to sign a lease agreement for the unit on the owner’s behalf. If they have a power of attorney, still try to contact the real owner by phone or email if you can.
A clause in the lease agreement confirming that the signatory is authorised to rent the unit can’t hurt either. If your job requires you to be sent elsewhere at a breaths notice, then try to make some friends here in Bangkok who can help to follow up about the deposit for you after you have left.
Author: Neil Simmons, a Director of Ideal Homes Real Estate Co. Ltd.,