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Need to break our lease!

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Milly1000
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Need to break our lease!

Postby Milly1000 » Thu, 12 Dec 2013 9:58 pm

My Husband and I are currently living in a Studio apartment. We have a tenancy lease which ties us in for 2 years but with break clause if we were to loose our jobs or be re located out of Singapore. We can give notice at 12 months (April 2014) with 2 months notice. Out situation is that I am 3 months pregnant and we therefore need to move after the 12 months to a bigger apartment. There is no way the 2 of us PLUS the baby will fit in the Studio apartment!
Does anyone know if legally our landlord can keep us there and forfeit our deposit or take us to court?
Has anyone been in a similar situation?

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JR8
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Postby JR8 » Thu, 12 Dec 2013 10:34 pm

It would seem to boil down to 'Can we invoke the Diplomatic clause, if we find the apartment too small and wish to move prior to the end of the lease?'

AFAIK the answer to that is no. One route might be explaining the situation to the landlord, and appealing to his/her sympathy (long shot). Or trying to negotiate compensation for an early release from the TAs obligations.

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Postby Beeroclock » Thu, 12 Dec 2013 10:41 pm

Read the contract closely but if it's a standard one I think you're in bad shape unfortunately. Agree the diplomatic clause won't apply here. Exactly as JR8 said, try talking with landlord is your best bet. Possibly if you can offer a suitable replacement tenant to take over the lease might help but I'd test the idea first before spending much time as landlord doesn't have to accept this.

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Postby Milly1000 » Thu, 12 Dec 2013 11:17 pm

Thanks for your advice. I pretty much thought that we would be stuck without options. The Landlady comes across as being completely un reasonable and is VERY picky about who she rents too. I guess we will have to talk to her and see what she says but I can already predict it really!

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Postby curiousgeorge » Fri, 13 Dec 2013 9:53 am

Milly1000 wrote:Thanks for your advice. I pretty much thought that we would be stuck without options. The Landlady comes across as being completely un reasonable and is VERY picky about who she rents too. I guess we will have to talk to her and see what she says but I can already predict it really!


I had to terminate a lease early due to a change in circumstances and reduced finances.

My landlord was also adamant that I couldn't break the lease.

I advertised and found a replacement to take over the lease for the remaining duration, then notified the Landlord whose reply was also "I don't want to lease to anybody else". I also pointed out that there was a clause permitting sub-letting (not my preferred route) with her permission, which was also (unreasonably?) denied.

I wrote to the Landlord again, telling her that I had done everything reasonable to ensure that she didn't suffer any financial loss, and that if she tried to recover any unpaid rent from me in a legal process I had the necessary evidence to prove that I had done everything reasonable to mitigate her losses and that *she* had refused to accept the solution.

The next phone call was "Does your new tenant want a 2yr lease?" Haha.

Find a replacement and force the issue. If it gets as far as court and she is being picky, the court won't take kindly to her "losses" is my guess.

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Postby JR8 » Fri, 13 Dec 2013 10:16 am

^ +1
Another good and useful post this morning :)

The only step I'd add, is if a landlord refuses a replacement, then ask them to justify (in writing/e-mail) on what grounds.

That would help document any level of 'unreasonableness', in case you need to rely upon it in future proceedings.

p.s. Plus, I feel that if a LL won't even explain why a proposed replacement tenant is not acceptable, then they have little ground to stand on.

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Postby Beeroclock » Fri, 13 Dec 2013 10:19 am

The attempts to mitigate will strengthen your case in Court but I'm still not so sure how it would pan out. From everything I hear in Singapore the system favours the Landlord. Difficult to prove permission unreasonably withheld as Landlord's tenant selection is very subjective and she could come up with any kind of reason to justify. Still seems like a 50/50 to me. If you go down this path you will need to put everything in email/writing and keep records, and you need to be prepared to lawyer up and go to Court if the Landlord calls your bluff (although probably a good chance to settle as below case, since most people prefer not to go to Court).

If it were me I would follow JR8 suggestion, 1) appeal to the Landlord's sympathy, 2) failing that try for a negotiated settlement, e.g. perhaps you concede an extra 1-2 months rent to break lease. The landlord has a chance to rent the property earlier and effectively collect double rent for a short period, so she has an incentive to accept. You eliminate your exposure to the remainder of the lease, saving around 9 months rent(?). Should be a win-win.

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Re: Help! Need to break our lease!

Postby ecureilx » Fri, 13 Dec 2013 12:10 pm

Milly1000 wrote:My Husband and I are currently living in a Studio apartment. We have a tenancy lease which ties us in for 2 years but with break clause if we were to loose our jobs or be re located out of Singapore. We can give notice at 12 months (April 2014) with 2 months notice. Out situation is that I am 3 months pregnant and we therefore need to move after the 12 months to a bigger apartment. There is no way the 2 of us PLUS the baby will fit in the Studio apartment!
Does anyone know if legally our landlord can keep us there and forfeit our deposit or take us to court?
Has anyone been in a similar situation?


just a question: where is it, and what's the ball park rental you are paying ? :) Seriously, I may need to find a place soon .. like March/April next year ??

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Postby x9200 » Fri, 13 Dec 2013 1:25 pm

As far as I could see from anecdotal evidence the law only favors landlords in circumstantial evidence involving damages (tenant has to prove he did not damage the property if the case). Other than this there is full equity but if one comes from EU or other countries with overblown tenant's protection it may indeed appear that the LLs are favored.

Anyway, first legal step in cases involving residential rental should be Small Claim Tribunal. Filing claim is cheap and use of lawyers is discouraged.

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Postby Beeroclock » Fri, 13 Dec 2013 2:38 pm

hi x9200, will residential rental claim always go via small claims tribunal ? I thought the SCT jurisdiction has a max threshold of $20k ? In this case, if claim is for 12 months rental it could easily exceed e.g. if $4k rental = $48k.

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Postby ecureilx » Fri, 13 Dec 2013 2:46 pm

Beeroclock wrote:hi x9200, will residential rental claim always go via small claims tribunal ? I thought the SCT jurisdiction has a max threshold of $20k ? In this case, if claim is for 12 months rental it could easily exceed e.g. if $4k rental = $48k.


well, instead of complicating matters, just tell the owner You cannot afford the rental, in view of change of circumstances, and he / she cannot force you to stay beyond the 12 months, if at all you want to play ball.

yes, you can write a hundred thousand page agreement demanding you must stay for 10 years, and if I don't like to stay, after staying a fair number of years (1 year in this case) ..

Morally it is Wrong to force a person to stay if they have difficulties / issues in staying on .. like my case then, when I lost my job, the landlord demanded I stay on .. or he will sue my ass .. no go .. when I nicely told him to go for it ..

I see either the landlord is getting a great rental and is terrified of finding a replacement, or .. the landlord is pretty worried he may not be able to get a replacement, even at the same rental as he is getting..

Which is opposite of what it was, a few months ago, where landlords were happy to let tenants go, as they could always be replaced by a higher paying tenant ..

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Postby Beeroclock » Fri, 13 Dec 2013 3:34 pm

ecureilx : "Morally it is Wrong to force a person to stay if they have difficulties / issues in staying on "

While i share the sentiment, and especially in this case as there are sympathetic grounds, I also have difficulty with the above statement. E.g. if the scenario is the other way around and a landlord needs to kick a tenant out because they "have difficulties/issues" and need to re-occupy their own apartment, would that be morally ok too ? Also you might consider is it morally wrong to break a promise/contract without the other party's agreement?

From a legal perspective and with full equity treatment Landlord vs Tenant, I still think it's difficult to predict how it would go if you get an uncooperative Landlord who for whatever reason doesn't want to let you out. It is quite possible the Court/SCT might uphold the sanctity of the contract, i.e. a deals a deal.

To OP : apologies for the legal digression but I'm interested to learn how this works too, and wish you all the best to find a solution to your problem !

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Postby ecureilx » Fri, 13 Dec 2013 4:48 pm

Beeroclock wrote:ecureilx : "Morally it is Wrong to force a person to stay if they have difficulties / issues in staying on "

While i share the sentiment, and especially in this case as there are sympathetic grounds, I also have difficulty with the above statement. E.g. if the scenario is the other way around and a landlord needs to kick a tenant out because they "have difficulties/issues" and need to re-occupy their own apartment, would that be morally ok too ? Also you might consider is it morally wrong to break a promise/contract without the other party's agreement?


A landlord kicking out a tenant, is not the same as forcing a tenant to stay on .. and in my humble opinion, you should read the words I placed there .. if a tenants wants out, after being there for a fair period (like here, coming to a year) what's the point in forcing him to stay ? will the landlord enlarge the house, for example ?

And for kicking out, if the landlord served notice and asked the tenant to move, if he is, for example, selling the place or need it to park himself, are you gonna demand he can't do so, as per contract ?

I am not a legal eagle .. but ..

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Postby Beeroclock » Fri, 13 Dec 2013 6:21 pm

ecureilx : "if a tenants wants out, after being there for a fair period (like here, coming to a year) what's the point in forcing him to stay ? will the landlord enlarge the house, for example ?"

Personally, if I was the landlord I would be sympathetic in such a situation and try to sort something out. However, there will be landlords who are very inflexible/uncooperative and will take the view "this is not my problem, we signed a 2 year lease and there's no grounds to terminate it". From what the OP said, there is fair chance their landlord might be in the latter category.

ecureilx : "And for kicking out, if the landlord served notice and asked the tenant to move, if he is, for example, selling the place or need it to park himself, are you gonna demand he can't do so, as per contract ?

Yes definitely, the tenant can insist to stay for the lease period, unless the TA had a special termination clause allowing landlord to serve notice for own occupation or sale. I think it's common for apartments to sell with an ongoing lease attached, so the new owner will take over the lease for the balance months and only after that finishes can the new owner move in.

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Postby x9200 » Fri, 13 Dec 2013 7:28 pm

Beeroclock wrote:hi x9200, will residential rental claim always go via small claims tribunal ? I thought the SCT jurisdiction has a max threshold of $20k ? In this case, if claim is for 12 months rental it could easily exceed e.g. if $4k rental = $48k.

You are right but I mentioned it from the tenant's perspective as OP is a tenant. For the tenant it should not exceed 20k for majority of the typical leases as it is typically about the withheld deposit. Another limitation of SCT regarding renting is the contract duration (up to 2y only).


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