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Beeroclock
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Postby Beeroclock » Fri, 13 Dec 2013 10:05 pm

x9200 wrote:
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).


Yup understand OP is tenant but the approach described was to propose a replacement tenant and if LL rejects then break lease anyway, so LL will be the one lodging claim against tenant for 10-12 months rent in this case. It will exceed 20k. I do agree tenant has a case having attempted to mitigate the losses to LL, but just wanting OP to be aware might need a legal defence and there is a possibility the Judge sees it as a straightforward breach of contract. Maybe worth a try and clearly it worked well for curiousgeorge, but personally I wouldn't want the hassle especially if I had a baby on the way.

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Postby x9200 » Sat, 14 Dec 2013 7:18 am

No personal experience but I don't really see it as the case of 10-12 months of rent equivalent. Even if OP do nothing and just moves out (informing the LL) the reasonable time to find a new tenant will be 2-3 months, plus the commission on prorated bases, plus (probably) something for the whole mess, if anything.
If LL decides to go full throttle via normal procedure his costs will skyrocket too and you need a separate trial to recover legal costs in Singapore. I doubt majority will be willing to take this risk.

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Postby ecureilx » Sun, 15 Dec 2013 8:09 pm

x9200 wrote:No personal experience but I don't really see it as the case of 10-12 months of rent equivalent. Even if OP do nothing and just moves out (informing the LL) the reasonable time to find a new tenant will be 2-3 months, plus the commission on prorated bases, plus (probably) something for the whole mess, if anything.
If LL decides to go full throttle via normal procedure his costs will skyrocket too and you need a separate trial to recover legal costs in Singapore. I doubt majority will be willing to take this risk.


and talking to a Conveyencing lawyer relative, she said the LL will loose ..

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Postby x9200 » Sun, 15 Dec 2013 9:31 pm

The trick is that contrary to common believes law seldom works on absolute terms. Law serves the purpose of social justice so it is hardly ever a maximum "billable" amount. Even if the contract explicitly says there will be one million dollar penalty for breaking the lease it is very unlikely this amount will be granted (unless this is Bill Gates or some other mega wealthy individual breaching it).

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Postby JR8 » Sun, 15 Dec 2013 9:55 pm

x9200 wrote:The trick is that contrary to common believes law seldom works on absolute terms. Law serves the purpose of social justice so it is hardly ever a maximum "billable" amount. Even if the contract explicitly says there will be one million dollar penalty for breaking the lease it is very unlikely this amount will be granted (unless this is Bill Gates or some other mega wealthy individual breaching it).


Contract terms have to be 'reasonable' to be enforceable, as your example highlights.

This is at a level now in the UK, where you almost have to bend over backwards to indulge a feckless tenant. No shouting, no threats, in fact you have to advise them what their rights are. Have to give them 3+ chances to do something etc ... one of the reasons I'm getting out, it's no longer plain vanilla landlording, it's moved towards a branch of social services where you work for them.

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Postby Beeroclock » Sun, 15 Dec 2013 10:12 pm

Hmmm okay, does this apply to a mobile/internet contract then, if you sign a 2 year contract with Starhub etc and after 12 months decide to break it for some valid reason, eg moving overseas. Or another example could be gym membership if you need to break early. In these cases I was quite sure they will hold you to the full contract amount (or specific cancellation fee if there is one in contract) if you cancel. And I doubt they will be obliged to accept if you propose a replacement to take over the contract. Or am I worrying for nothing when I sign fixed term agreements?

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Postby JR8 » Sun, 15 Dec 2013 10:20 pm

I very much doubt it.

When I said 'reasonable' I meant it can't have unreasonable requirements:
- Having to run naked around the swimming pool each morning
- Having the air-con serviced on a weekly basis.
- Having to go and clean the landlords *own* home and cook him dinner.

Starhub etc. How to say it's unreasonable? Don't know, anyway, I'm out of my depth at this point ...

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Postby x9200 » Sun, 15 Dec 2013 10:32 pm

Beeroclock wrote:Hmmm okay, does this apply to a mobile/internet contract then, if you sign a 2 year contract with Starhub etc and after 12 months decide to break it for some valid reason, eg moving overseas. Or another example could be gym membership if you need to break early. In these cases I was quite sure they will hold you to the full contract amount (or specific cancellation fee if there is one in contract) if you cancel. And I doubt they will be obliged to accept if you propose a replacement to take over the contract. Or am I worrying for nothing when I sign fixed term agreements?

As far as I know their "penalty" is on prorated basis so not the whole amount. It is IMHO a fair and justifiable amount. Your bad luck/problems should not affect the third party (this would not be fair) so this third party should recover damages but at the same time should not make any clear profit out of the situation.

Besides, the cancellation fees for the consumer telecom or gym membership do not compare with this 10x rent - there is no social injustice if you pay $100 to the operator as you can easily afford it and this is you who caused troubles in the first place.

This is roughly how it works in EU and as much as I could observe seems also similar in Singapore.

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Postby Beeroclock » Sun, 15 Dec 2013 10:58 pm

Hi Jr8: my Starhub question was meant for x9200, but thanks for the reply nonetheless. I still would've thought in a free society if two willing parties enter an agreement (provided that the terms are legal of course), it should stand. If the terms were "unreasonable" then one or other party shouldn't have signed, obviously it seemed reasonable to both at the time. Can a judge really say I'm not enforcing this because no-one in their right mind would clean an aircon every week? Or would the judge say sorry chap you signed the piece of paper, unless he put a gun to your head to make you sign then I can't help.

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Postby JR8 » Sun, 15 Dec 2013 11:27 pm

In brief, in the UK, there is now a major onus on...

'Before signing this agreement, if you are not clear on all it's requirements, please review it with a lawyer and review/discuss any such points.'



Then in the final paragraphs before the signature page...


'I understand the terms of the TA, and where I didn't, I have discussed with a lawyer, and now understand blah blah ... '

No room to argue you didn't understand what you were entering into ...


Buck passed...

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Postby x9200 » Sun, 15 Dec 2013 11:50 pm

Beeroclock wrote:I still would've thought in a free society if two willing parties enter an agreement (provided that the terms are legal of course), it should stand.

It will stand if this serves the purpose of the contract. Simply, the whole system is pretty complex and people are different. Not everybody can comprehend it or afford a lawyer but the law affects you everywhere. You could be a victim of a literal interpretation too. Just think how the life could look like if what you said is enforced: You go to a shop and there is a sticker on every item with T&C of sale. Will you always read it? And if there is a clause there that will make you bankrupt? It may sound absurd but what you mention is over the same line. You enter the contract for a reason. This reason is not to make you bankrupt.

If you want to enter a contract where you require to clean the aircon 5x a day, that's fine, but than the purpose of the contract will be to clean the aircon as of your liking and not make someones life harder as a tenant.

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Postby ecureilx » Mon, 16 Dec 2013 9:20 am

Beeroclock wrote:Hmmm okay, does this apply to a mobile/internet contract then, if you sign a 2 year contract with Starhub etc and after 12 months decide to break it for some valid reason, eg moving overseas. Or another example could be gym membership if you need to break early. In these cases I was quite sure they will hold you to the full contract amount (or specific cancellation fee if there is one in contract) if you cancel. And I doubt they will be obliged to accept if you propose a replacement to take over the contract. Or am I worrying for nothing when I sign fixed term agreements?


For mobilles, it is spelt out clearly, as you get an instrument in lieu .. so if you don't want the reminder of the contract, pay up ..

For Gym, well, years ago, I signed up and then found the Gym doesn't like my types, lest I signed up for personal trainers, I cancelled the ongoing Debit with my bank and the Gym threatened to sue me etc. etc.

I nicely told them "go for it .. " and they did, and when I wrote them a fancy letter, they went AWOL ..

Compared to a phone, what exactly did the Gym give you in advance, for them to demand payment ?

You must know when you are getting screwed and must fight for it .. than let everything go the way of the other party, especially when it comes to 'contracts' ...

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Postby ecureilx » Mon, 16 Dec 2013 9:27 am

x9200 wrote:Just think how the life could look like if what you said is enforced: You go to a shop and there is a sticker on every item with T&C of sale. Will you always read it? And if there is a clause there that will make you bankrupt? It may sound absurd but what you mention is over the same line. You enter the contract for a reason. This reason is not to make you bankrupt.


This .. I like. ..

If you want to enter a contract where you require to clean the aircon 5x a day, that's fine, but than the purpose of the contract will be to clean the aircon as of your liking and not make someones life harder as a tenant.


Matter of fact, I had a landlord, who wrote in the contract that the aircon must be serviced 4 times a year, by his appointed contractor. It so happened that there was nobody in one room and the aircon contractor comes and I told him to minus off that unit, and he called the landlord and the landlord reminded me the terms.

I just told him in a nice way, if he wants my money, just say so .. that get into nefarious schemes with a aircon contractor who insists on cleaning an indoor unit, never used .. and I added on, since I had taken my own efforts to put in the 3M A/C Filters, even if it was operating, it wouldn't require 4 cleaning a month ..

And then I also sent him some guidelines from BCA that stated 1 service a year is sufficient.

He wasn't so happy .. and I also told him, his contractor always finds some part need to be replaced, and guess what, the price is just over the 150$ cut off, and I will engage my own Certified contractor, in lieu and sue the previous contractor for cheating me by claiming to replace items .. (I had smartly kept the 'failed' units .. )

Absolute silence followed, and then "you are a difficult tenant .. "

IN all fairness I don't know if the landlord himself was being taken for a ride by his Agent and Aircon Contractor .. most likely it was so

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Postby JR8 » Mon, 16 Dec 2013 10:17 am

Annoys me too. We don't use the air-con, but are still obliged to service it quarterly which costs a basic $500/pa, and requires us to attend to quarterly 'pointless' visits by engineers. All they do is set about to clean units that aren't dirty.

Surely you are simply obliged to return a property at the end of the term, in the same condition as received, less fair Wear and Tear? This is the (legal) standard requirement.

I don't understand the requirement for 'periodic maintenance'. Isn't it like requiring:
- you must clean your toilet bowl four times a week. An engineer will visit to do this.
- you must defrost the freezer once a quarter (ditto re: engineer)
- etc

I don't see why air-con not being used, has to be serviced during the term. And for air-con being used, I don't understand why tenants aren't simply given some guidance on maintenance, but ultimately again, it all falls down to how they wish to proceed and the condition at check-out.

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Postby Beeroclock » Mon, 16 Dec 2013 11:49 am

x9200 wrote:
Beeroclock wrote:I still would've thought in a free society if two willing parties enter an agreement (provided that the terms are legal of course), it should stand.

It will stand if this serves the purpose of the contract. Simply, the whole system is pretty complex and people are different. Not everybody can comprehend it or afford a lawyer but the law affects you everywhere. You could be a victim of a literal interpretation too. Just think how the life could look like if what you said is enforced: You go to a shop and there is a sticker on every item with T&C of sale. Will you always read it? And if there is a clause there that will make you bankrupt? It may sound absurd but what you mention is over the same line. You enter the contract for a reason. This reason is not to make you bankrupt.

If you want to enter a contract where you require to clean the aircon 5x a day, that's fine, but than the purpose of the contract will be to clean the aircon as of your liking and not make someones life harder as a tenant.


I should qualify my earlier statement with regard to T&C fineprint which I also agree can be very dubious nowadays. E.g. computer software, where you have to sign your life away before installing the program, very few if any people will read these fineprint and the enforceability may well be questionable.

However I still feel for the "main" terms of a bilateral contract between two parties, i.e. the price/duration of a TA, it is more likely these will be taken as literal/absolute. As you also said "It will stand if this serves the purpose of the contract." For a TA, the address/price/duration are needed to define the basic purpose/reason of the contract. Without these being specified you don't really have an agreement, i.e. we will rent you property XYZ for 24 months commencing 01/01/14 at $$4,500/month. These are the main terms outlining the contract purpose and I still think it could be difficult for either party to go back afterwards and say I didn't understand, I made a mistake, or my circumstances changed.

When it comes to aircon servicing clause, that is a secondary/detailed item in the TA, not part of the main purpose of the contract and more likely to be open to legal interpretation/challenge.

I do appreciate the social justice objective, but there must be a balancing point too where the system has to uphold/enforce contracts. If people are allowed to flake without consequence there will be chaos and commerce can breakdown. The legal system will be wary to set any such precedent.

Anyway thanks x9200 for the interesting exchange, I think we diverged a lot from the initial issue and at the end of it all I do agree the OP is in a decent position legally if they have valid circumstances to cancel and can demonstrate acting in good faith to minimize losses to the landlord.


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