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Terminating a lease early - can I be sued?

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vanessabrooker
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Terminating a lease early - can I be sued?

Postby vanessabrooker » Fri, 10 May 2013 12:00 pm

My family and I have resided in Singapore since January and unfortunately, we are having to return back to Australia in July. We signed a 2 year lease and are obviously breaking the terms of the lease due to us leaving. Our landlord has tried to ask us for $14,000 upfront to cover agents fees, hence allowing us to leave in July with no further responsibility to our condo - even if he doesn't re-rent it. (We find this strange, especially seeing our condo is for sale!). We are unable to sign this agreement as we do not have the funds.

What would happen if we forfeited our bond ($14,000) and left the country. Would the landlord be able to sue us for compensation if we no longer live in Singapore? We obviously do not want to do this, but feel that our hands are becoming increasingly tied as they will only try and re-rent the apartment if we pay them $14,000. This is just impossible for us right now. Any advice would be much appreciated.

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Mi Amigo
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Postby Mi Amigo » Fri, 10 May 2013 12:18 pm

vanessabrooker wrote:My family and I have resided in Singapore since January and unfortunately, we are having to return back to Australia in July. We signed a 2 year lease and are obviously breaking the terms of the lease due to us leaving. Our landlord has tried to ask us for $14,000 upfront to cover agents fees, hence allowing us to leave in July with no further responsibility to our condo - even if he doesn't re-rent it. (We find this strange, especially seeing our condo is for sale!). We are unable to sign this agreement as we do not have the funds.

What would happen if we forfeited our bond ($14,000) and left the country. Would the landlord be able to sue us for compensation if we no longer live in Singapore? We obviously do not want to do this, but feel that our hands are becoming increasingly tied as they will only try and re-rent the apartment if we pay them $14,000. This is just impossible for us right now. Any advice would be much appreciated.

TBH, the offer of $14,000 sounds quite reasonable to me, given the remaining length of the lease. If I were in that situation I'd be inclined to take the offer. If you can't pay the full amount in one go, perhaps you could offer to pay it over a few months.

A key point is that the lease is a legally binding agreement (assuming it was stamped and stamp duty paid, etc. at the outset). Whether or not the landlord is able to re-let or sell the property is irrelevant to your situation. I would certainly advise you to try to agree a compromise with the landlord, and the fact that they have made you an offer is a good sign IMO.

Obviously you want to avoid this developing into a legal situation. If you return to Australia with outstanding debts and never come back to Singapore, it's probably unlikely that they will pursue you there. But do you really want that hanging over your head? Would you really never pass through Singapore again, not even in transit?

If you do a search of this board you'll find countless tales of people who did a runner owing money to landlords, banks, etc., and then some years later want to return to Singapore. As you'll see, these people don't get much sympathy from the regulars here - running away from one's debts is just plain WRONG; it also makes life more difficult for the honest people that remain here or come after them, and it only helps to reinforce the anti-foreigner xenophobia that is already raging withing the local community.

My advice - try to have a constructive dialogue with the landlord, forget about whether it's 'fair' that they might re-rent / sell the unit, explain your situation and desire to come to an amicable arrangement.

Good luck.

p.s. another piece of advice - please don't double-post the same content in multiple places; you will incur the wrath of the mods by doing that.
Be careful what you wish for

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Max Headroom
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Postby Max Headroom » Fri, 10 May 2013 12:24 pm

Well, unfortunately, it doesn't look that great for you. You don't mention the reason for having to return to Australia, but this could well be the wild-card in your dealings with the landlord going forward. That is, if the reason for your return is dramatic enough, you may appeal to his sense of sympathy (and perhaps end up paying less). But if it's not, then, by right, as well as by law, you owe him the funds that you owe him. Whether he rents the unit out after you've paid him is neither here nor there I'm afraid.

What you could try to do is find a tenant for the unit yourself. The rent may be lower, but, it's a way of reducing your losses and certainly doable given the high turnover here. Mind you, the landlord will need to be agreeable to this.

By the by, a long shot perhaps, but you don't have a diplomatic clause in your lease? Check this first, because it could be a way out, though it needs to be worded right.

Good luck.

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Max Headroom
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Postby Max Headroom » Fri, 10 May 2013 12:27 pm

Apologies, a few similar points as Mi Amigo; his reply hadn't been posted yet.

vanessabrooker
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Postby vanessabrooker » Fri, 10 May 2013 12:32 pm

Thanks very much Mi Amigo and Max Headroom. Its food for thought. We obviously want to do the right thing here so I am going to approach the landlord directly hopefully to come to a mutually satisfactory outcome for both parties. Sorry for posting twice - Im new to this :-) By the way our diplomatic clause can only be enforced after a year and 2 months. We are well short of this time frame.

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Re: Terminating a lease early - can I be sued?

Postby taxico » Fri, 10 May 2013 10:43 pm

vanessabrooker wrote:...Our landlord has tried to ask us for $14,000 upfront to cover agents fees, hence allowing us to leave in July with no further responsibility to our condo - even if he doesn't re-rent it. (We find this strange, especially seeing our condo is for sale!). We are unable to sign this agreement as we do not have the funds.

What would happen if we forfeited our bond ($14,000) and left the country. Would the landlord be able to sue us for compensation if we no longer live in Singapore?


so... the landlord wants 14k, and still has your deposit of 14k?

i don't think the landlord'll sue you for "compensation" given that the agent will have to return the commission - probably prorated if not in full. additionally, how will you be served?

diplomatic clause or not, this is the risk that landlords have to take. i know you want to to do the right thing and the amount is no small sum - just make sure your landlord knows that.

a REASONABLE landlord will not ask you to fork out 28k under such circumstances.

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zzm9980
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Re: Terminating a lease early - can I be sued?

Postby zzm9980 » Sat, 11 May 2013 6:58 am

taxico wrote:so... the landlord wants 14k, and still has your deposit of 14k?


I was wondering the same thing. If it is just 14k total, see if you can negotiate to have him do his inspection and just top up whatever he takes out of the security deposit to cover damages.


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