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Minke1975
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Tenant rights in Singapore

Postby Minke1975 » Fri, 25 Oct 2013 8:59 am

Hi. I have stayed 5 years in executive HDB in Singapore and I am moving to a new place next week. My current landlord has became unreasonable asking me to repaint the whole 1800 sgf house, fix floor etc. This is almost 40 year old building and normal tear and wear always happens especially when you stay 5 years like I have done. I heard that there is some small court tribunal in Singapore where I could go with my case if needed. Does anyone has any more details on this? Also does anyone know if there is some government organization looking after the tenants right? Thank you in advance

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Re: Tenant rights in Singapore

Postby the lynx » Fri, 25 Oct 2013 9:15 am

Minke1975 wrote:Hi. I have stayed 5 years in executive HDB in Singapore and I am moving to a new place next week. My current landlord has became unreasonable asking me to repaint the whole 1800 sgf house, fix floor etc. This is almost 40 year old building and normal tear and wear always happens especially when you stay 5 years like I have done. I heard that there is some small court tribunal in Singapore where I could go with my case if needed. Does anyone has any more details on this? Also does anyone know if there is some government organization looking after the tenants right? Thank you in advance


http://forum.singaporeexpats.com/ftopic60579.html

This is the bible of tenancy stuff. SCT is discussed inside.

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Postby JR8 » Fri, 25 Oct 2013 10:41 am

Have a read through the thread Lynx linked, it should get you up to speed. Come back and ask any specific questions.

There used to be a tenants advice centre located around the top end of Orchard Boulevard, but I can't say I recall anyone mentioning it for several years, so presume it is no more...

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Postby Steve1960 » Fri, 25 Oct 2013 11:34 am

Hijacking this thread a little.

I have advised my agent that come lease renewal time I do not intend to pay any additional security deposit if I agree to a rent increase. The Landlord already has 6k of my money which I will never know for sure if I will get back. I don't want to add another 600 or so dollars to that!

My agent thinks that will be tough to negotiate. I don't see why. I will have been a good tenant for 2 years including a long list of repairs and improvements I have made to the apartment. The extra 600 dollars would represent about 5 days rent. What's the big deal?

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Postby PNGMK » Fri, 25 Oct 2013 12:03 pm

Steve1960 wrote:Hijacking this thread a little.

I have advised my agent that come lease renewal time I do not intend to pay any additional security deposit if I agree to a rent increase. The Landlord already has 6k of my money which I will never know for sure if I will get back. I don't want to add another 600 or so dollars to that!

My agent thinks that will be tough to negotiate. I don't see why. I will have been a good tenant for 2 years including a long list of repairs and improvements I have made to the apartment. The extra 600 dollars would represent about 5 days rent. What's the big deal?


6k is 2 months rent equivelant. That's one month security and one month in advance or two months security (for a 2 year lease?).

What I did in similar circumstances was nickle and dime it out of them on the last six months.... it's a really difficult scenario. I'd always paid the extra deposits for 2 year lease extensions (my rent went from $1700 in 2005 to $3300 in 2010) but I went really played hardball at the end when I knew they didn't have anyone to move in right away. I negotiated a 6 month extension and DEMANDED the excess security deposit back AND I got it - they were only holding two weeks security at the end which I used up in a negotiated two week moving out/packing/cleaning extension. The way the security deposits is negotiated is not cut and dried but I argued that if they wanted increases for rent increases and longer leases then I deserved it back for shorter leases. Admittedly I had a cooperative agent (I paid the agent a fee so he was getting it from both ends).

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Postby JR8 » Fri, 25 Oct 2013 4:00 pm

Steve1960 wrote:Hijacking this thread a little.

I have advised my agent that come lease renewal time I do not intend to pay any additional security deposit if I agree to a rent increase. ...
My agent thinks that will be tough to negotiate. I don't see why.


Does the Tenancy Agreement allow for variation of the deposit? If not there is your answer. Would the LL be expected to refund part of the deposit if you negotiated a lower rent*?

I can't say I've ever heard of an initial deposit being adjusted during a tenant's occupation, either as landlord or tenant, anywhere in the world I've lived.

Ask the agent what provision i.e. which specific clause is in the TA allowing for such an adjustment. Make them do the leg-work.


* As we managed after year #1 here, last time. Well the TA said rent would be adjusted to the prevailing rate, so in a falling market at that time, we simply proved that fact.

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Postby Steve1960 » Fri, 25 Oct 2013 4:35 pm

JR8 wrote:
Does the Tenancy Agreement allow for variation of the deposit? If not there is your answer. Would the LL be expected to refund part of the deposit if you negotiated a lower rent*?

I can't say I've ever heard of an initial deposit being adjusted during a tenant's occupation, either as landlord or tenant, anywhere in the world I've lived.

Ask the agent what provision i.e. which specific clause is in the TA allowing for such an adjustment. Make them do the leg-work.


* As we managed after year #1 here, last time. Well the TA said rent would be adjusted to the prevailing rate, so in a falling market at that time, we simply proved that fact.


This will be the renewal of a contract which will expire. I am assuming at renewal there is the opportunity for both parties to ask for different contract conditions whatever they may be. If one or other party does not like the proposal then there is no need to renew of course. Just because I will have lived there for 2 years does not mean I ahve to sign an identical contract on renewal right?

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Postby Steve1960 » Fri, 25 Oct 2013 4:54 pm

Just to add, I don't think the security deposit is very meaningful anyway. 6k is either way too much (given a decent, honest, conscientious tenant such as myself) or way too little if I did abuse and trash the place then do a runner.

So no, having agreed to part with 6k already I would not expect the Landlord to refund a few hundred dollars if the rent went down. For being an impeccable tenant I might expect them to refund 3k regardless of which direction the rent went :-)

Other than 'its always been that way' what justification does the Landlord have to increase the deposit in line with a rent increase? We will have had a business relationship for 2 years where I have proved my integrity, the security deposit is an insult to that relationship.

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Postby JR8 » Fri, 25 Oct 2013 6:14 pm

Steve1960 wrote: This will be the renewal of a contract which will expire. I am assuming at renewal there is the opportunity for both parties to ask for different contract conditions whatever they may be. If one or other party does not like the proposal then there is no need to renew of course. Just because I will have lived there for 2 years does not mean I ahve to sign an identical contract on renewal right?


Ah, I see. You're writing an entirely new contract!

Is that normal? In this kind of situation I've had (as both tenant in SG, and also as landlord in the UK) Tenancy Agreement 'go periodic'. This means that at the end of the fixed term the contract is deemed to automatically roll-over with the same terms and conditions as the original TA, into what is known as a Periodic Statutory Tenancy (PST)*.

This status can be useful for both parties, - example: a tenant who after 1/2/3 years is now flat-hunting to buy, or possibly leaving SG, and doesn't want to commit to a further new lease. Ok, then leave what already exists in place, and it simply morphs to a PST that rolls on a monthly basis. The tenant gets flexibility, the landlord gets a known-quantity tenant staying on (sometimes much longer than the tenant planned for, even years!)

For a tenant on a PST, you can still review the rent. You simply both sign a one page 'Memorandum of Understanding' agreeing to it, with reference to the original AST/TA.


But yes, if you're writing out a whole *new* TA, then I'd imagine everything is open to negotiation. Seems a bit odd though, as although it lends security of tenure, it also means you're probably back into a lock-in/Notice period, and you have to pay stamp duty all over again (which you don't when a TA rolls over into a PST).


*Barring that there is no minimum 6 or 12 month stay, the tenancy rolls from month to month, and Notice can be served by either party, with the original Notice periods, at any time.

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Postby Steve1960 » Fri, 25 Oct 2013 6:22 pm

Interesting thank you. Our agent is suggesting its a complete new contract renewal, maybe because it is in her best interests?

I think I will have to ask her a few questions.

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Postby x9200 » Fri, 25 Oct 2013 6:26 pm

What I think is understood locally by "renewal" is to have this hypothetical pro-tenant "option for renewal" and pay extra fee for nothing to the agent (if applicable).
All the renewals I have seen in SG so far had been brand new contracts.

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Postby Steve1960 » Fri, 25 Oct 2013 6:28 pm

x9200 wrote:What I think is understood locally by "renewal" is to have this hypothetical pro-tenant "option for renewal" and pay extra fee for nothing to the agent (if applicable).
All the renewals I have seen in SG so far had been brand new contracts.


This was my understanding which JR8 has thrown a curve ball at!

It certainly deserves further investigation though as both have merits.

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Postby JR8 » Fri, 25 Oct 2013 7:09 pm

x9200 wrote:What I think is understood locally by "renewal" is to have this hypothetical pro-tenant "option for renewal" and pay extra fee for nothing to the agent (if applicable).
All the renewals I have seen in SG so far had been brand new contracts.


Yes, the 'Option for renewal' which the landlord can simply decline if he so wishes. Valuable eh! lol

My guess is if your agent is suggesting this, and will get paid a fee, you've squared the circle.

Agents tend not to like PSTs here as they don't get paid commission on them [well technically they got paid upfront fees on the original TA/AST that later morphs into a PST, but get nothing more as a result of that morph-to-PST]. AFAIUI, no new contract has been formed, just the terms of the original have evolved.

Note further, that I have had a PST here in SG, on a fully kosher let/TA via a reputable realtor; it was on our last place last time. We were here perhaps two years, and then knew we were leaving sometime quite soon.

Prior to the date of the annual renewal I explained our circumstances to our landlady (a charming, educated, and most reasonable local retiree), and we then rolled onto a PST before leaving c.4 months later.

As you might imagine this PST arrangement is particularly in the landlords interest if a tenant is looking to leave between say mid Nov to end Feb, when very few - well, expats/westerners - are likely to be seeking to relocate. 'Bind them in via offering flexibility' through that period, and you're probably quids-in ($better off).

If that sounds cynical, it's not. It's about helping your tenants, which in turn helps you.

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Postby Steve1960 » Fri, 25 Oct 2013 8:08 pm

Got it thanks. I think our Landlady is going to want to tie us in for the two years although with the 'diplomatic clause' and I don't expect to be going anywhere in the short term.

Of course it then comes full circle back around to whether or not she is justified in asking for several hundred more dollars for the security deposit or my platinum standing as an honest tenant means I should not need to do that.

This assumes there is a rental increase which, using the HDB published figures (the only data I have to make a judgement) is actually warranted. So being kind enough to recognise the landlord deserves a rent increase I would like to think she would waive the increase in security deposit.........................or not!!

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Postby JR8 » Fri, 25 Oct 2013 8:28 pm

I've had tenants of 10+ years, where the rent has been adjusted (up) with RPI each year: But this here is the first time I've ever heard of anyone seeking to adjust an 'ongoing' security deposit in parallel with such reviews.

There is no obvious purpose for the additional bureaucracy... for the sake of maybe $100 of depo/bond, beyong the LL being an ar$e.


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