The Handover

You don’t have to live in Singapore for very long before you hear about the nightmare that handing over a leased property can be. Although leases typically include a ‘fair wear and tear’ clause they also include a clause that states you will return the property in the same condition in which you took possession of it. So, if it was freshly painted or the floors were re-varnished then the landlord may expect these to still be in pristine condition when you move out.

Unlike in many countries there is no independent board or body that holds the deposit/bond that tenants pay to a landlord. Instead, the deposit/bond is paid to the landlord and what they do with it is up to them. And whether they return your deposit/bond in its entirety or deduct amounts for maintenance is up to the landlord.

In preparation for leaving our old place our agent advised us that we needed to remove all picture hooks and to patch and paint the holes, attend to any outstanding maintenance issues (tenants are responsible for the first $150 non-structural issues), replace all blown light bulbs, repair floor scratches and so on and so on and so on. We did some of these but the house had dodgy wiring with water leaking through cement walls so we refused to do anything electrical (or pay for an electrician).

Last week was a particularly stressful week, as moving week always is, and the thought of Handover at the end of it made me feel physically ill. I knew we hadn’t done nearly enough and were well aware of all the friends who had been left out-of-pocket for scratched floors, blown light bulbs and all manner of other things but neither of us had the energy to care a great deal. This was compounded by the landlord taking THREE WEEKS to confirm a time for the joint inspection.

Anyway, we forked out a bundle of cash to have the place professionally cleaned. We also arranged for the curtains to be dry-cleaned, which is also standard practice in Singapore. Let’s just say that rubber packed curtains when folded with the rubber sides together and stored in plastic bags for days after being cleaned do not look so great when they have been yanked apart.

Discovering this 2 minutes before Handover possibly made me cry.

Backtracking almost 5 years but the big sticking point in the original lease was that the Landlord wanted our liability at the end of the lease to be open-ended. Any time they found issues after we left we would have to pay to rectify them. The Other Half’s company fought this tooth-and-nail and eventually Clause 32 stated that once the form was signed at the end of the joint inspection our liability ended.

The landlord’s representative finally turned up for the joint inspection 25 minutes late (by which time I was ready to vomit in the just-cleaned toilet with nerves). He asked to see the structural issues, got the Other Half to sign the magical ‘our liability ends here’ form, and we were done.

That easy.

All of a sudden I was totally grateful for that horrible protracted leasing saga and the lackadaisical property management company.



I am fascinated by those TV shows on Foxtel about hoarders.  Part of my fascination is the superiority factor: “I may not scrub the shower as often as I should but at least I don’t have rotten pumpkins dotted here and there” *. I also find the very real and complex mental illness behind hoarding intriguing. It seems to affect people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds, but the wealthier you are the easier it is to hide the problem.

Anyway, the other night I was flat out on the couch watching Hoarding: Buried Alive. These people have heaps of STUFF, rooms full of STUFF, houses (yes, plural) of STUFF, a high percentage of it completely useless or worthless.

As someone who has STUFF on her mind it hit me that the amount of STUFF these people have must be like a millstone around their neck.  I am daunted at the task ahead of me, but we just have the regular amount of STUFF, not the ‘bursting through the windows’ amount.  It must be virtually impossible

This is NOT my house. I promise you.

to do anything about your STUFF when you have so much STUFF. Where the heck would you start?  And all the professionals in these shows agree that unless the hoarder has to be in charge of culling their own STUFF.  They have to do it themselves, which applies to any good cull of STUFF, which sadly leaves me as the chief packer/sorter/culler of STUFF.

Fortunately, I am a very good chucker of STUFF.  There’s very few things that I have a problem parting with, even books which are my ‘passion’.  I started sorting our STUFF with the kids bookshelf.  One box has been donated to charity and there should probably be more.

The next target area of STUFF is a rather ugly faux-wood laminate entertainment unit we inherited from somewhere when we first shacked up together about a trillion years ago.  I have no idea why we still have it as neither of us likes it, but we do.  And it holds a plethora of very useful STUFF.

My tongue is firmly in my cheek when I say useful as it actually houses my husband’s stereo system he got for his 21st complete with record and tape player and one of those new-fangled VD thing-a-me-jigs!  Hence, it also houses our records vinyl collection as well as the dinner set I got for my 21st, crystal bud vases, tarnished silver goblet from my 18th, and a huge collection of souvenir wine glasses from various places.  I may have to brush the cobwebs off the wretched thing when I open it, as it is so rarely opened.

Why have we kept this STUFF?

I blame apathy.  We need none of it, but I really can’t part with our records. I mean vinyl collection.  Which means we need to keep the stereo, because how else will we play the 12inch version of Uncanny X-men’s 1986 classic I Am?

But everything else will go. Oh, except for the dinner set because my mum gave it to me for it for my 21st.

Hmmmm…..for someone who considers themselves rather adept at chucking STUFF, I seem quite adept at finding reasons to keep STUFF.

* as I saw in one episode featuring a food hoarder.