Tenant-Landlord: Key Real Estate Issues Faced by Both Parties

Tenant-Landlord: Key Real Estate Issues Faced by Both Parties
14 Apr 2021

Tenant-Landlord: Key Real Estate Issues Faced by Both Parties

When renting out a property in Singapore, it is important that the tenancy agreement is thoroughly discussed to ensure both parties are on the same page. Many tenant-landlord disputes occur when one party is unaware they have breached the contract. When mediation fails to work, the landlord or tenant may not know what to do next. In some cases, it can become an arduous and unsettling experience before both parties can successfully come to an agreement.

Here are some of the most common landlord-tenant disputes in Singapore and the steps to take to resolve them.

4 Common Tenant-Landlord Disputes in Singapore

Issue #1: Damage caused to the property during the tenancy period

It is, first and foremost, important that the tenant maintains the property in good condition during the duration of the lease. If the tenant fails to do so, the landlord may hold the tenant liable for any repair and maintenance costs. 

Upon damage caused to the premises, the next course of action typically includes:

  1. Suing for breach of the lease contract
  2. Obtaining an order to recover possession of the premises
  3. OR re-entering the property to evict the tenant

Landlords planning to seek compensation for damages to amenities and appliances, or the property itself, can consider filing a claim with the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT).

Take  note that the damage could also be a result of fair wear and tear, during which the amount of damage is reasonably expected from the tenant’s use of the premises. If there is a “Fair Wear and Tear” clause stated in the tenancy agreement, the tenant may not have to pay for damages resulting from normal ageing of the property in Singapore. As such, it is crucial to hire a real estate lawyer for legal advice when navigating such contractual issues.

Issue #2: Failure to pay rent

In the tenancy agreement, there should be a clause specifying the rental payment date. This can be, for instance, the first day of every month. Typically a grace period of seven days applies to cater to late payments, after which the landlord can impose a late payment interest. However, as with the first issue, when the tenant fails to pay the rent, the landlord can sue for breach of the lease contract, obtain a Court Order to recover possession of the property as well as enter the property and forfeit the lease.

The landlord can also exercise the right to distress and seize goods to sell. Both failure to pay rent and causing damage to property are considered breaches of the tenancy contract, which gives the landlord  the legal right to evict the tenant.

To  re-enter the premises, in pursuant to section 18 (1) of the Conveyancing and Law of Property Act, the landlord must serve a notice specifying the particular breach complained of, the required compensation for the breach, and the remedy to be undertaken by the tenant. In other words, he/she has to make a formal demand for the tenant to leave the property.

Issue #3: Tenant holding over

Another landlord-tenant dispute common in Singapore occurs when  the tenant refuses to vacate the property after termination of the lease, also termed as “holding over”. In such cases, under section 28 (4) of the Civil Law Act, the landlord has the option of charging the tenant with:

  1. Double the amount of his rent until it is no longer occupied by him, or;
  2. Double the value of the property which the tenant stayed in.

Unlike the first two issues, the landlord does not need not give prior notice of the charges against the tenant.

Issue #4: Subletting of premises to a third party

Should the tenant lease out the property to a third party without the landlord’s consent, he/she will be held liable for illegal subletting in Singapore. If the tenant receives rent that exceeds either what may be recoverable for that portion or 110% of what needs to be paid to the landlord in total, the landlord can apply to the Court to recover possession of the premises.

Conversely, if the tenant has a reason for the need to sublet and informs the landlord beforehand, he/she can consider accommodating his/her request, especially if the tenant has been continuously abiding by the terms of the contract (i.e. rent is paid on time, the property is not damaged, etc).

However, consent for subletting must be put in writing and formally documented in the tenancy agreement. A valid reason must be provided if the landlord withholds consent to sublet the property thereafter.

Settle Your Dispute with the Help of a Lawyer  

Before the issue escalates, it is crucial to deal with it at the earliest opportunity and resolve your dispute promptly with proper guidance. Whether you are a landlord or tenant in the midst of a dispute, speak to our team of real estate lawyers in Singapore at Harry Elias Partnership to assist you on the next course of action.

For more information, please contact our Business Development Manager, Ricky Soetikno, at rickysoetikno@harryelias.com.