What Happens If I Break My Lease – In Singapore, lease agreements typically include a lease term of between six months and two years. During this time, the tenant is legally obligated to pay the amount of rent specified in the rental agreement (TA).
However, due to unforeseen circumstances, there may be a need for either party to terminate the contract. In this article, we will look at what those circumstances are and their consequences. This way, landlords and tenants in Singapore will know what to do in case of early termination of the lease.
What Happens If I Break My Lease
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Tenants and landlords should know the terms of the lease before signing. After all, the nature of technical assistance is to avoid any conflict or miscommunication between the two parties.
In most cases, the TA must include terms ensuring that the lessee(s) have exclusive possession of the property for a specified period. In addition, tenants must be able to live without disturbance and violation of their privacy, security and/or property during the above period of use.
On the other hand, tenants also have the responsibility to maintain the obligations stipulated in the terms of the contract. Basic terms include:
See examples of HDB and private property tenancy agreements to get a clear idea of the terms in them.
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Disputes mostly arise over the last point mentioned above. Once the lease has been signed and approved, the lease can only be terminated by either the lessor or the lessee with appropriate advance notice.
The notice period is proportional to the length of the lease and the frequency of rent payments. For monthly rental properties, the appropriate notice period should be one month. In most cases, one month is the minimum notice period.
Tenants should not immediately terminate a tenancy without first notifying their landlord. It is always advisable to obtain permission from the owner before proceeding to leave the building.
Sometimes, a landlord can refuse a tenant’s request to terminate the tenancy if they do not comply with the TA. Therefore, they can demand payment of a monthly notice period or other forms of compensation if the minimum lease period or the lease agreement is not respected.
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This is where the security deposit comes into play. Usually equivalent to one month’s rent, the security deposit is often used as protection against early termination of a tenancy in Singapore. This is in addition to the stipulated obligation to pay compensation for damage (if any) incurred during the tenancy.
In order to avoid a legal conflict, the owners must ensure the possibility of early termination of the contract, based on that, clearly set the limits of the conditions of early termination and the penalties that will be defined in the PU.
Tenants, on the other hand, must notify owners of all events that may contribute to early termination of the contract, for example, transfer of business abroad.
As a tenant, to offset penalties when these things happen, it’s best to negotiate these clauses into the lease before signing.
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Due to cultural norms and public housing policies, the rental market in Singapore tends to be foreign. This is why most leases will contain a break-in clause – also known as a break clause or minimum tenancy clause. These are the usual terms of the Diplomatic Clause:
(The minimum rental period for an HDB room or unit is six months, while the minimum rental period for private apartments is three months.)
Normally, diplomatic clauses are included in a two-year lease, with a minimum tenure of one year. After that, the tenant can use the clause and give notice for at least two months or pay two months’ rent in lieu of notice.
It serves as protection for the tenant who may face unexpected changes in working arrangements. In this clause, the tenant does not have to pay any compensation either.
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Additional to the diplomatic clause is the refund clause. Rarely included in a TA today, this clause covers fees paid by the owner to the agent at the start of the tenancy. Upon execution of the Diplomatic Clause, the hirer is responsible for reimbursing the owner for these fees on a pro rata basis, if a refund clause is included in the TA.
An En Bloc clause serves to give the owner the ability to terminate the lease immediately in the event that the entire building is sold for redevelopment. Although this is rare, the inclusion of this clause gives the landlord the ability to terminate the lease early without compensation to the tenant.
What if your tenancy agreement does not contain these clauses or you find yourself in the difficult situation of breaking your tenancy before the clause expires? So what are your options?
The purpose of the Diplomatic Clause and the Reparation Clause is to ensure a fair and just resolution in the event of an attempted dispute. Without these clauses, it is still possible to discuss this with your landlord based on your understanding of the harm they will face due to early termination of tenancy in Singapore.
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First, there is the loss of rental income. Finding a replacement tenant takes time and effort, and leaving a property vacant can be a huge waste. To minimize this, as a tenant, what you can do is look for a tenant to take over your lease for the remainder of its term.
However, before looking for a replacement tenant yourself, you should make sure that the landlord agrees with this process. Be prepared to ensure that the replacement tenant pays the same amount of rent. In some cases, this may result in subsidizing the replacement tenant’s rent until the lease expires.
These factors are important to protect yourself as a tenant. If these provisions are not included in the lease, you must pay the rent until the end of the lease term.
Although property law in Singapore is strongly in favor of the landlord, termination of the lease is a rare situation. As a tenant, an open relationship with the landlord and seeking fair compensation will be the best solution to any dispute.
What Happens If I Break My Lease?
Landlords who terminate a lease must also acknowledge the costs incurred by the tenant and reimburse the tenant. In some cases, this may result in the rent being returned during the notice period given by the landlord, along with the security deposit.
However, legally, the tenant has the right to live in the property until the lease expires. In the case of a wrongful eviction, the tenant can go to the small claims court if the lease is not longer than two years.
If the terms of the lease – such as paying rent – are broken, the landlord can decide to terminate the lease early and evict the tenant.
To achieve this, it is important that the owner clearly defines the right to recover TA. The landlord must also provide a notice describing the violation, the relief sought, and the action the tenant wishes to take.
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The tenant can also ask the court for help to mitigate the loss of the property. Courts may then decide to give the tenant more time to resolve their issues. In most cases it is four weeks.
The owner may also choose to invoke his right of distress under nuisance law. This allows them to apply up to 12 months before the hardship claim. After this, the tenant is sent a notice to seize the selected items and a letter of harassment to recover the unpaid rent. If the tenant does not respond within five days, the landlord can sell the property.
However, consult with a legal professional if you are unsure of your legal action.
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, the situation can change without warning. So, it is important that the TA anticipates what may happen during the lease period.
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Ultimately, it is up to the landlord and tenant to consider each other. Open and honest communication is the key to reaching a reasonable agreement with fair results for all involved without making things worse.
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