Tenancy Disputes may arise and are considered part and parcel of the property rental. It is a major source of irritation and financial damage, resulting in a court case that stretches for weeks or even months. It may even end up costing far more than the original damage done.
Hence, it is best to equip yourself with some knowledge so that you can save yourself from the headache arising out of tenancy disputes.
Below are a few scenarios of tenancy disputes:
Tenancy Disputes 1: Damages To The Property
This is, by far, the most common kind of disputes.
If you are a tenant, take note of any pre-existing damages. Ensure these are recorded and acknowledged in writing with pictures as proof through email or text. Ensure the landlord acknowledges it.
Inspect the house carefully for damages before agreeing to rent it. Sometimes, the landlords themselves are not aware of the damages, and might blame you for them later.
If you are a landlord, make the clause towards property damage clear. In most Tenancy Agreements (TA), the landlord pays up to a fixed amount for damages, after which the tenant is responsible for the rest (under Maintenace clause).
Make sure your tenant understands this policy before signing, so there will not be disputes later.
In the event that issues about damages still arise, here are what both sides can do:
To be fair, allow the tenant to find their own repair contractor. This will avoid the cost being jacked up on the landlord’s side.
Ask for a written description from the repair company on the possible cause of the damages. For example, state if the damage is due to fair wear and tear or it arises due to human negligence.
Lastly, the landlord can sue for breach of contract.
Either the tenant or the landlord can approach the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) to mediate the matter.
Tenancy Disputes 2: Late payment of rent
For the landlord
You, being the landlord, have the right to repossess the premise and forfeit the lease, if your tenant has not paid the rent (or any part of the rent owed) for at least 30 days.
Bear in mind though, you cannot enter the house and seize your tenant’s belongings. In order to do this, you must first obtain a writ of distress.
For legal advice or seizing anything, you need to consult a law firm. Otherwise, you might be the one at the receiving end of the law.
For the tenant
You, being the tenant, need to take note that your landlord must send you a notice of demand for unpaid rent, before taking the steps to evict you. This must be sent to your address by registered mail and hand delivered to you.
As a tenant, it is always best for you to contact your landlord early if you think you might be late with your payment of the rent. Inform your landlord early for leniency. Your landlord may have a mortgage to pay and is accountable to the bank.
Tenancy Disputes 3: Illegal Subletting
For the landlord
Always check with your tenant who the occupiers are in the house, tally with the occupiers’ details and the monthly utilities bills. Through these, you can gauge if your tenant has sublet your property or not.
Illegal subletting is a breach of contract (unless it is specifically allowed under the TA). You can apply to the court to recover possession of the property.
For the tenant
If you have someone else who is not in the occupiers’ list staying with you at your rented place for a short period of time, you need to inform the landlord. This will avoid unnecessary misunderstanding.
If you happen to be the illegal subtenant, you would be evicted too. In the case that you have been misled or duped into such illegal arrangement without realizing it, you can see a lawyer about suing the person who illegally sublet the apartment to you.
To have a smooth deal in property rental, do your due homework as suggested in the article.