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Flat contract from Lawyer NOT estate agency?

  1. #1
    Shenzhennifer is offline Registered User
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    Flat contract from Lawyer NOT estate agency?

    (sorry to cross post this from geoexpat but am getting desperate and need to move out of my flat soon.)

    Is this common in HK?
    We`re supposed to be moving to a new flat in a week and just received the final contract (to be signed by hubbie`s company) and I am shocked: it`s a 16 page English language (hubbie`s employers are HK and Japanese) document that I can barely understand only because I studied a bit of law before and my father was a lawyer). All parts basically leave the owner out of ANY RESPONSIBILITY to do with the place, whether or not damages were caused by us or by natural causes. In fact the place is 12 years old and has not been upgraded or renovated - only maintained. So if a window falls off and down 45 floors into the swimming pool and kills 3 people, it`s our fault. If the drains get clogged because of 12 year old plumbing, our responsibilty. We have to ensure maintenance of the rooftop(we are the top floor) through the management company. Basically we are the superintendents of the place and are financially responsible for everything even though we are just renters and just want to stay there quietly for a year or 2.
    Then it says that we have to `pay and discharge all taxes, assessment duties, charges impostions and outgoing of and annual or recurring nature now and hereafter to be assessed, imposed or charged by the gov`t or other lawful authority upon the said premises or upon the owner or occupier (except property taxes).`
    What is it talking about here????? What kind of taxes?
    I seriously want to go off on these people and punch the owner in the face. Notwithstanding, we pretty much need to vacate in a week and I have furniture coming this week, haha.
    I have warning bells going on but don`t know if they are fueled by anger and annoyance. Also they emailed the doc at 6.40pm on Friday night and expected to send a messenger to pick the signed copy up like 10 minutes later.
    Is this nuts or is it just me?

  2. #2
    FutureHKmom is offline Registered User
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    That sounds odd to me. When I used to rent, the landlord was responsible for all repairs in the apartment. When the washing machine broke, he fixed it or at least he paid for the fixing after I called the maintenance guy. Also landlord was in charge of all government tax and assessments which includes rates (paid four times a year) and land rent (paid twice a year). I've only ever rented from one person and I assume that is the norm. Did u use a real estate agent? Why don't u ask him or her about it. Were these terms negotiated and agreed by your hubby's company? Good luck working it out!

  3. #3
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    I think that that is nuts. If I read that contract, there is no way I would sign it until someone sat down with me and answered, to my satisfaction, all the questions I have about it. Even if I was desperate to move out, I wouldn't be desperate enough to sign a contract that could possibly mean financial/legal suicide for my family at some point. Actually, I think they way they are presenting everything is unacceptable (sending a document via e mail at closing time at week's end and expecting it returned immediately--sounds like they are trying to rush you into signing it!) and they must think you are gullible or stupid just to sign something because it's the only way you can rent the place. I would seek for a temporary shelter (i.e. hotel etc.), put the furniture delivery on hold and sort through everything before I signed the document and moved into the place. Just because the document comes from a lawyer also doesn't guarantee that it is in line with HK law--so that's something I would look at too. Documents like this do mean something in HK and they can really get you in big trouble. I dealt with some contract troubles last year that weren't even as complicated as yours sound and it was a pretty iffy situation. Even a year or two in that sort of predicament could be really horrible. I really hope you will listen to those warning bells 'cause you're a smart chica and I would hate for you to get roped into something yucky like this seems to be.

  4. #4
    Shenzhennifer is offline Registered User
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    FutureHKmom - thanks for your experience and clarifying what those `taxes` might be. That makes sense as later in the contract it was stipulated that the owner pay the management fees and the property tax. I`m not familar with these other taxes but now at least I have something to go on. No, we will definitely not be paying anyone`s taxes or for assessments. We used a real estate agency, same one as for our current flat. But the owner refused to use their agreement and instead insists on using his own.
    Thanka2 - I agree with you, it is nuts, the more I think about it, especially calling it financial suicide. I think we can get an extension to stay here longer, maybe...furniture can be put on hold, even singapore vacatino can be postponed. It`s annoying too bc it`s a nice flat witha great view. I think someone who would sign this current lease would either be uneducated or completely rich so they would not care (in that case they wouldn`t be renting there, haha!).
    I have combed through the contract and have made comments for ammendments and clarifications (lawyer`s daughter, hehe) which they can make OR to get a home inspector to come and report on the condition of the place.

    Would still love to hear any other opinions or experiences please~

  5. #5
    woodstock07 is offline Registered User
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    I also had a contract from the lawyer because my landlord's nephew is a lawyer and handles the contract on her behalf... what luck. What is even more annoying, when I tried to clarify some clauses with their lawyer, they wouldn't speak to me. They said I would have to engage a lawyer to communicate with them because I'm a "layman".

  6. #6
    AmyH is offline Registered User
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    I have absolutely no legal experience but there is no way i would sign that document. To me, it sounds like the owner cannot afford the upkeep any more but also cannot afford to sell it, so is renting it and trying to hold you responsible for all building repairs etc.

    We own property in the UK which we rent out and we would never under any circumstance hold our tenant responsible for the repairs (unless it was something she broke!). In fact, since we have been here we have repaired a leak in the roof, the shower, the washing machine etc.

    The very fact that they sent it to you and expected you to sign and return it within 10 minutes means that they were hoping to "pull the wool over your eyes". They were probably expecting you to sign it without reading it and then spring it on you when the first bill comes in.

    Like you said yourself, do you really want to be held responsible if the windows fall out, in to the swimming pool and kill some people and can you pay for insurance to cover yourself for that?

    Apologies for the long winded reply but my advice would be to call a meeting with the lawyers and landlord to discuss before signing anything but they may try to cover up what is in the contract by dismissing some things you have pointed out and explaning them away. I would not sign it in it's current format and would expect it to be changed.

  7. #7
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    solidstars is offline Registered User
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    i have always rented and the landlord always pays for fees/rates as well as anything broken in the apartment that was in the contract (ie washing machine, lights, bathtubs, ie anything i didn't bring in myself). the contracts we sign are always done through the agency except when renewing we directly renew with the landlord (through same contract type anyways). it's a simple looking thing.

    where i work though, the office tenancy is a thick maybe 2 inches across document my boss has to sign and was sent by lawyers. i never bother to read it though as boss does it!

  8. #8
    LeahH is offline Registered User
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    Sounds ridiculous!

    Never encountered anything like this here, except that we are now responsible for paying the quarterly government rates in our current flat.

    Rates were included in the rent of our last flat so I guess that particular charge is one that varies. In this case both flats were owned by the same commercial landlord.

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