Need to break my lease...HELP

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mayali
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Need to break my lease...HELP

Post by mayali » Sat, 03 Mar 2012 6:04 pm

Hi,

Im hoping against hope someone can guide me on what to do with an issue that started with our landlord recently.

My company is transferring me out of Singapore and I still have about 6 months left on my apt lease. My landlord has been very nice in the past about various things but has suddenly turned! He is demanding that I pay him the entire years rent even though I wont be in SIngapore as there is no diplomatic clause in my contract.

My current contract is a new one as I am staying on in the same apt for the past four years. We used to have the clause but the landlord himself had it removed and it didnt occour to us that it would cause a problem.

Can anyone guide me on how to go about dealing with this issue? He is throwing legalities in my face. Is there any law in Singapore that protects the tenent?

Thanks

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JR8
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Post by JR8 » Sat, 03 Mar 2012 7:25 pm

Try using the search function (the button under the Profile tab) and look on 'Diplomatic clause' and/or 'Break lease'.

You should find where this has been discussed before, sometimes at length, and that will get you up to speed or where you stand.

Then revert with any points that remain unresolved.

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Mi Amigo
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Re: Need to break my lease...HELP

Post by Mi Amigo » Sat, 03 Mar 2012 7:34 pm

mayali wrote:Hi,

Im hoping against hope someone can guide me on what to do with an issue that started with our landlord recently.

My company is transferring me out of Singapore and I still have about 6 months left on my apt lease. My landlord has been very nice in the past about various things but has suddenly turned! He is demanding that I pay him the entire years rent even though I wont be in SIngapore as there is no diplomatic clause in my contract.
Hmm. This isn't helpful I know, but I wouldn't start from here. You should always 'protect the downside', to use a Richard Branson expression.
My current contract is a new one as I am staying on in the same apt for the past four years. We used to have the clause but the landlord himself had it removed and it didnt occour to us that it would cause a problem.
Easy to be wise after the event, I know, but if there is no other get-out clause in the contract, then the landlord has probably got you over a barrel. Caveat emptor (or should that be caveat tenens in this case?). When the landlord removed the DC, why did you not object? With the benefit of hindsight, he/she may have been setting you up for this exact scenario.
Can anyone guide me on how to go about dealing with this issue? He is throwing legalities in my face. Is there any law in Singapore that protects the tenent?
LOL. good one! Unfortunately I think you are in a very weak position here. If you voluntarily signed the contract then the landlord has every right to enforce it, including by 'throwing legalities" around.

I would sincerely discourage you from just walking away from the contract, as that would likely create significant repercussions for you if you ever return to Singapore. But such a possibility might be occurring to the landlord (sadly it happens quite a lot here), so all I can suggest is to try to negotiate a cash settlement with him/her. A payment of (for example) three months' rent might be preferable to a legal pursuit of all the monies owing, with potential doubts about how much could be recovered.

Unless anyone else has an idea?

.. And yes, have good look round the forum by means of the search function, as my learned friend has suggested above.
Be careful what you wish for

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Post by Mi Amigo » Sat, 03 Mar 2012 7:42 pm

One other option - as someone has suggested in another thread - if your employer is transferring you out of Singapore with no advance notice, you could try to negotiate with them for some compensation for your tenancy situation.
Be careful what you wish for

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Re: Need to break my lease...HELP

Post by teck21 » Sat, 03 Mar 2012 11:13 pm

mayali wrote: He is demanding that I pay him the entire years rent even though I wont be in SIngapore as there is no diplomatic clause in my contract.

Can anyone guide me on how to go about dealing with this issue? He is throwing legalities in my face. Is there any law in Singapore that protects the tenent?

Thanks
Paying him full rent for remaining duration of your lease while he sits and does nothing, or worse, collects rent from a new tenant is total and utter BS.

He has NO right to do that.

He can let you find a new tenant to take over the tenancy, and you make up the shortfall in the monthly rental, or he can do it himself and bill you for that plus whatever reasonable amount it cost him to get a new tenant.

Just shove it up his, up sticks and go. Of course, you will lose your deposit, but it sure sounds like you were going to lose it either way.

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Post by JR8 » Sat, 03 Mar 2012 11:21 pm

What enshrines these 'rights' which you suggest exist?

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Post by mayali » Sat, 03 Mar 2012 11:38 pm

Thanks for the advice everyone!

JR8: I'll def do the detailed search tonight. Hopefully i'l find my answers there, otherwise i'll get back to you guys here.

Mi amigo: I do want to eventually return to Singapore so I guess your right about just walking away.Sigh. Unfortunately caveat emptor didnt occur to me earlier :( And he has really done a number on me by informing me of this now, when im due to leave even tho I informed him of the company's decision 2 months back!

Teck21:I AGREE....THIS IS BS!!! Sadly though...he is the B and the S is falling on me!!!!
The funny thing is that if we do leave and he gets new tenants, he'll be btter off as the rents in our area have gone up.

Oh...I would love to do some shoving hee heeee

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Post by JR8 » Sun, 04 Mar 2012 12:09 am

Do your research, and meanwhile focus on 'not fair' versus 'not legal'.

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Post by x9200 » Sun, 04 Mar 2012 7:32 am

mayali wrote:Teck21:I AGREE....THIS IS BS!!! Sadly though...he is the B and the S is falling on me!!!!
The funny thing is that if we do leave and he gets new tenants, he'll be btter off as the rents in our area have gone up.
Maybe so but he still needs to find a new tenant and this is you who brakes the lease. A standard practice with the diplomatic clause is to give a 3 month notice. This mean it is generally agreeable such time may be needed to find a replacement. He also has to pay a new commission so his damages in this part are equal to what is left out of the current one (prorated basis). Then again, you are the one violating the contract causing him troubles and he deserves some compensation. How much? I don't know what the courts are ruling in favor of the LL in such cases but this is how probably the LL sees it and the court may see it too because it seems justifiable. So how far away are we from the 6 rent equivalent? 4 months or so on the counter and you surely caused a lot of damages to the apartment. What is your deposit, one or two month? :)

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Post by zzm9980 » Sun, 04 Mar 2012 8:28 am

Definitely not fair and it is BS, I agree, but it is Singapore law. If your company is transferring you, can you not get them to pay this? Usually they don't have a problem with this kind of stuff. I've even negotiated sign-on bonuses with new companies to cover the cost of breaking old agreements in addition to what they were already going to give me.

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Post by JR8 » Sun, 04 Mar 2012 8:35 am

zzm9980 wrote:Definitely not fair and it is BS, I agree, but it is Singapore law.

Pedantic point... I'd suggest it is closer to generic (or at least in this case derived on law of England & Wales) contract law, than SGn law.

I.e. the contractual obligations that have been signed up to are just that. It is not peculiar that you have to observe them simply because it is in SG.

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Post by zzm9980 » Sun, 04 Mar 2012 8:39 am

JR8 wrote:
zzm9980 wrote:Definitely not fair and it is BS, I agree, but it is Singapore law.

Pedantic point... I'd suggest it is closer to generic (or at least in this case derived on law of England & Wales) contract law, than SGn law.

I.e. the contractual obligations that have been signed up to are just that. It is not peculiar that you have to observe them simply because it is in SG.
Right, it's just that in most "1st world" jurisdictions, there are a lot more consumer protections available than there are in Singapore, especially regarding housing. But then, in Singapore, you can be a HOMEOWNER on only S$1000/month, so I guess the powers that be don't see a need for rental protections :D

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Post by teck21 » Sun, 04 Mar 2012 9:21 am

JR8 wrote:What enshrines these 'rights' which you suggest exist?
The TA is a contract, and a contract that leaves the issues of penalties for breaches unsaid. This has been used as a stick to beat tenants for ages with legally unenforceable threats.

Whatever penalties may arise will be subject to COntract law in Singapore:

Contract Damages

8.8.9 First, if the breach of contract by one contracting party (the ‘party-in-breach’) causes loss to the other (the ‘aggrieved party’), the party-in-breach may be ordered by the courts to compensate the aggrieved party in money damages for those losses, in lieu of the primary obligations left unperformed under the contract. However, contractual damages (which are compensatory and not punitive in nature), is not the only judicial remedy available. Other types of remedies may be available in lieu, or sometimes, in addition to damages, depending on the nature of the obligation which has been breached. [See Section 13 below].
*italics mine.

This is stuff I googled actually. The real reason why I say all this is that I had previously attended a real estate agents course (conducted by the real estate agency arm of an one of the world's major property consultancy firms), and the trainer for the legal sessions said exactly the same thing.

The issue of tenancy disputes is simply another case in Singapore where the letter of the law states one thing, but the spirit of it is something else altogether.

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Post by zzm9980 » Sun, 04 Mar 2012 9:26 am

That's interesting teck. So If you can demonstrate ready willingness to make reasonable compensation for terminating the lease, that should in theory go a long way in court. Paying the remainder not always being reasonable depending on the market and remainder of the term. If the rates are "up", and you're willing to find the new tenant, that seems "compensatory" enough to me. Not sure how courts will agree.

But what happens if your TA specifically spells out what happens if you break the lease term early? That would overrule this, correct?

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Post by teck21 » Sun, 04 Mar 2012 9:32 am

zzm9980 wrote:That's interesting teck. So If you can demonstrate ready willingness to make reasonable compensation for terminating the lease, that should in theory go a long way in court. Paying the remainder not always being reasonable depending on the market and remainder of the term. If the rates are "up", and you're willing to find the new tenant, that seems "compensatory" enough to me. Not sure how courts will agree.

But what happens if your TA specifically spells out what happens if you break the lease term early? That would overrule this, correct?
Exactly, it is not like buying a container full of perishables which the seller will take a full loss on if the buyer refuses to make payment.

The landlord can easily get a new tenant, and he is expected to do that, just that the tenant breaching the agreement has to bear the costs, and losses in rental that might arise.

Again, the landlord cannot rent it out to his sister for $1/month and expect the breaking tenant to pay the rest of it.

If penalties for non-performance are specified, then yes, they would overrule the law of contract, again so long as they are considered fair and reasonable. Just because a clause exists saying that a tenant needs to pay $1m in the event of a breach in tenancy does not mean it can be enforced because it is patently ridiculous.

Actually this reminds me of a case, last year or the year before I think, in which a couple failed to purchase a property somewhere in the East Coast because their lawyers failed to discharge the necessary paperwork in time or something.

They ended up buying something else similar at a higher price, , and sued the law firm who I believe was then compelled to make good to them the difference in price.

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