Rental News

Tenancy Agreement and Security Deposit: What renters must know

September 4, 2015

In essence, a Tenancy agreement (TA) is simply a more detailed, and legally binding version of the letter of intent (LOI). Typically, the landlord will prepare the Tenancy Agreement and fill out the details in accordance with the mutually agreed upon terms.

Read through your tenancy agreement before signing on the dotted line!

Read through your tenancy agreement before signing on the dotted line!


We cannot stress it enough, but this is the moment to take your time and read the agreement through back to front. While the tenancy often goes just fine, in the event that you are unlucky and end up having a bad (and costly!) rental experience, you want a good Tenancy Agreement to be able to fall back on.

Security Deposit

Before we move on to line out and further detail the Tenancy Agreement, a slight yet important diversion into the security deposit is warranted. Procedurally, the Tenancy Agreement always goes together with a security deposit, and when signing the Tenancy Agreement, a security deposit will have to be handed over to the landlord. It is common practise for the security deposit to be worth about one month’s rent for a one year lease and double for a two year lease.

The purpose of the security deposit is essentially twofold. Firstly, and most prominently, it serves as a safeguard for the landlord, in case the property will suffer damages due to negligence of the tenant. Secondly, if the lease term is terminated prematurely (and no clause was included in the Tenancy Agreement conditioning this), then the security deposit can be withheld to cover for the landlord’s inconvenience.

For a more detailed account on the security deposit see our Good Faith Deposit vs Security Deposit Guide.  

Tenancy Agreement Outline

The Tenancy Agreement can be as short or long as you make it to be and there is no limit on clauses that can be included. Every Tenancy Agreement must include the following minimum information:

  • The full name and contact address of the landlord and Tenant
  • The address of the property that is being rented
  • The date of the tenancy agreement is signed
  • The date the tenancy is to begin
  • Addresses for service for both the landlord and the tenant
  • A note stipulating whether the tenant is under the age of 18
  • The rent amount and frequency of payments
  • The place or bank account number where the rent is to be paid
  • Any fees to be paid (commission to the agent) if applicable.
  • Inventory List of all the items in the apartment. 

What to look out for in a Tenancy Agreement?

In addition to what has been set out above, most Tenancy Agreements include clauses stipulating the rights and responsibilities relating to maintenance and repair, utilities, insurance matter, stamp duty, access to premises of prospective tenants and aircon servicing (if applicable), conditions of the security deposit and good faith deposit, an early termination clause, and a clause detailing what happens when rent is paid late or not at all.

You can find a standard template of a Tenancy Agreement here.  

Seeing that the clauses of the contract are mostly case-specific and essentially infinite in number, it is difficult to give a helpful overview of them all. Still, we have assembled some clauses that are often experienced as problematic and as such deserve some elaboration.

  1. Diplomatic Clause and Reimbursement Clause (Early Termination of Lease)

In the event that you are signing a lease for more than 12 months, we highly recommend you to include a Diplomatic Clause in the Tenancy Agreement. This will allow you to terminate the lease prematurely in the event that you unexpectedly get transferred to another country. The clause can commonly be exercised after you are 12 months into your lease term, and allows you to terminate the contract without having to pay the additional months of rent. Necessarily, a notice period will be included (for instance 2 months). The clause then protects the tenant by allowing him/her to terminate the lease before the previously approved upon termination date.

Noteworthy is that if you require the landlord to include the Diplomatic Clause, s/he will usually in turn demand a Reimbursement Clause to be included, which stipulates that you have to reimburse a part of the agent’s commission. The amount is prorated, meaning that the longer the lease term, the higher the agent’s commission. For more information on common commission rates and responsibilities check out our agent commission guide.

  1. Minor Repair Clause & Other Maintenance Clause

This clause is almost always included in the Tenancy Agreement and if it is not then you should request it to be put in there. The clause stipulates what happens to minor damages resulting from the wear and tear of the property and its items. The clause often specifies an amount above which the landlord is responsible for the damages. This way, if there are minor damages up until for instance S$150 the tenant would pay, whereas when damages exceed this amount the landlord would be liable. Note that this is only for damages that result from the aging, wear and tear of the items. Damages cause by the negligence of tenants, such as accidentally breaking fragile items fall wholly on the tenant. Of Course, if you can manage, you can attempt to come to an agreement with the landlord where s/he will pay for all  damages that occur due to aging, irrespective of the degree of damage.

Lastly, we advise all tenants to insert a problem-free period in the clause, preferably 30 days or more. This way you are not liable for any damages during the initial period of the lease, and in a way protect yourself from either damages you had previously overlooked or damages done by the previous tenant.

It is common practise that the landlord is liable for any large damages that are not the result of a tenant’s negligence. And while most landlords will agree to this regardless of whether it is stipulated in the contract, it is best to include it just in case.

  1. Option to Renew Clause

This is a clause that lets tenants extend the lease for another term – usually a year – with a 2-month prior notice. If the clause is exercised, the landlord will prepare a contract for extension. The clauses usually stay the same as the current contract unless specified otherwise. Impotantly, negotiations are wide open again and both you and the landlord can propose different terms.

  1. What will happen if you either forget to or cannot pay rent on the due date?

The Tenancy Agreement will have a clause stating what happens when rent is either paid too late or not at all. In the event that you end up paying the rent too late (after a specified amount of hours/days) there will normally be an interest imposed on the amount unpaid. if correct, the clause should also state what happens when you cannot pay the rent anymore. If you deem this even remotely possible, make sure to know the terms of the actions taken in such an event.

  1. Access to Premises Clause

There are usually a series of “Access to Premises ” clauses, allowing landlords to enter the premises for whatever stated purpose. Commonly, the purposes for which a landlord would enter the premises is for repair work or the arrangements of viewings for future tenants. Towards the end of your lease, the landlord will in all likelihood arrange for viewings so as to minimize the vacancy period of the unit. As a tenant you may want to include some details into the clause such as timing of viewing and repair work.

  1. “Major Construction” Clause

This particular clause is not very commonly found. Still it may be worthwhile to know about it and perhaps try to include in the Tenancy Agreement. Basically, this clause allows you to break the lease if there is an unexpected demolition or construction taking place near the apartment, which may cause inconvenience or even health risks to the tenant. If you are thinking of including this clause in your Tenancy Agreement, then we advise you ot be as specific as possible and include precisely within what radius construction would fall under the clause, what inconvenience depicts and within what timeframe notice has to be given.

  1. “En Bloc” Clause

Unlike all previous clauses, this one is solely exercises by the landlord, and serves to protect his interest. Put simply, the clause allows the landlord to sell the property and end the lease prematurely without having to compensate the tenant. Generally, a notice period will be included. While it is relatively rare, development sometimes go on sale “en bloc”, meaning that the whole condominium is sold for redevelopment. In such instances, when this clause is included the landlord can terminate the lease without having to compensate the tenant.

If there are any clauses that are out of your control to comply with, you disagree with, or do not fully understand, do not sign the agreement. Negotiate, and request for amendments if needed. All seems alright after all? Then it is at last time to give this the final push, commit and put the magic mark on that dotted line.  

Check out other rental related articles here: 9 steps to take when you’re renting out a room for the first time and Renters now enjoy cheap rental prices in Singapore – here’s why 

Find the rental home of your dreams today at Singapore’s largest property portal!

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  • Reply Christopher Young _ January 21, 2016 at 3:51 pm


    If I’m signing for less than a year, and there’s no diplomatic clause -is there some kind of back out statute or clause that would come into effect/I can request if I have to terminate a contract?

    Would appreciate your advice.

  • Reply Jamal March 23, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Hi Christopher, If you signed a contract for less than a year, didn’t include a diplomatic clause and you suddenly decided to back out or terminate the contract, then this situation would be considered as breaching of contract. In this situation, the best way is to negotiate with the landlord. Communication is the key- be honest and truthful why you are doing this- people understand people 🙂 Hope this helps. Please feel free to get in touch with us again!

    • Reply S Sunder December 26, 2017 at 5:32 pm

      Hi Jamal

      Can diplomatic clause be enacted for <1 year contract and for PR tenants (I want it to apply for possible company relocation outside singapore , or job outside singapore )

      is it legal/valid


  • Reply Zoey April 9, 2016 at 1:01 am

    My tenant want to terminate contract 5mts without prior notice for a year contract and refuse to pay rental for extra 15days stay please advice on how should i do? Thanks

    • Reply Jamal April 9, 2016 at 5:57 pm

      Hi Zoey, so sorry to hear that. I would definitely get in touch on this with my team on Monday. I request for your patience till then. Thank you for interacting with us and have a great weekend!

    • Reply Jamal April 12, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      Hi Zoey, hope you are doing good. I just got in touch with my team on your matter. There are a few things you have to consider here. If the contract was made for one year and your tenant wants to terminate it without a prior notice, then it’s a clear violation of agreement rules. To challenge this, you can use ‘Small Claims Tribunals’ which is small service by Singapore State Courts to wrap up small issues. On the top, since this dispute is between you and the tenant only, it might be a good idea to settle that between yourself. You can try talking to him/her to try to bring an another tenant who can fill the duration. I am not sure what did you mean by extra 15 days stay. Hope this information helps. Please let me know how this goes. Good luck!

  • Reply Chang May 3, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Hi, would like to ask if the tenant signed rental agreement for room & paid 1 month deposit but end up the tenant no show on agreed date or after. Also, tenant didn’t ask for deposit return as well. Will this rental agreement consider terminated?

    • Reply Jamal May 3, 2016 at 8:17 pm

      Chang, it depends upon the situation. Officially, the tenant has signed the rental agreement and has also paid the deposit. I think you should try to contact him/her and know the reason of absence. If the tenant presents a legit reason, and you think you are satisfied with it, you can continue. Still, if the tenant doesn’t show up and doesn’t notify, you can warn him/her regarding the termination of contract say after 1-2 weeks. Still, in case, if the tenant doesn’t show up, it would be a good idea to move on. Thank you for commenting!

  • Reply Chang May 3, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    Hi Jamal, thank you so much for your advice and really appreciated a lots

    • Reply Jamal May 4, 2016 at 10:55 am

      No problem Chang. Feel free to get in touch if you might have further questions. Have a good day!

  • Reply Suzie Yeo May 13, 2016 at 10:07 am

    Hi Jamal, I had signed the agreement with my tenants is valid till end of June,2016. Tenant never told me not to re-contract until I message her then she told me that I can go ahead to get new tenant and also request to get the deposit to waive off for May. I refused as our contract is till June and isit they still have to pay me till June. Deposit had to keep till they move out and no damage to refund them on 14 days. My house wall was drawn by kids all over and I request them to repaint so I can bring new tenant to view the house they refuse and told me to return the deposit then they will do that. Do I as landlord have the right to ask them to repaint the house as still got 1 month before they move out? Please help me I am loss as don’t know how to handle this tenant.

    • Reply Adam R. May 13, 2016 at 4:25 pm

      Hi Suzie,

      Judging from what you mentioned, it seems like your tenant is intending to break the lease by one month. Upon signing the contract agreement with her, was there any prior agreement in writing to state what will happen if she breaks the terms of the lease? It really depends on what is stated so that you can decide what actions you can take if the lease is broken (eg. tenant has to find a replacement tenant, security deposit will be forfeited , take the tenant to small claims court to recoup the lost rental income amount etc).

      It is also the responsibility of the tenant to maintain the condition of the unit as per what it was prior to him/her staying there. As such, your tenant is obligated to re-paint the walls upon returning the keys to you or pay for the damages from the security deposit if she refuses to do so.

      Hope this clarifies!

      Adam R.

  • Reply Suzie Yeo May 13, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    Hi Jamal,
    Actually I had the hard copy of the agreement but problem is not signed,they e-stamp online so IRAS could not retrieve the document cos don’t need to e-stamp agreement if they do on-line. My agreement stated about the deposit return only after 14days when they move out and have to maintain the original as what I rented to them on the 1st day. Now problem tenants refused to paint the house telling me I need to refund them the deposit. They suppose to pay their rental till end of June cos contract ending June and the deposit cannot of set the rent,tis was stated in the agreement. I trusted they aqree professional therefore I did not get the copy of the signature from them.So how can I deal with this prolmeatic tenants. Please advice how to solve my problem.

    • Reply Adam R. May 19, 2016 at 12:38 pm

      Hi Suzie,

      Do you still have a copy of the online copy with the e-stamp? As long as you have that, it should suffice as a legally binding agreement.

      For the security deposit, it should cover the cost of repainting the house if they do not do so after their last date of agreed tenancy. As for the collection of rent for their last month tenancy, afraid that you’ll have to continually negotiate with them to settle on a payment.

      Adam R.

  • Reply DONG JUN May 21, 2016 at 9:58 pm


    I am going to rent a retail/shop outlet from a owner(Landlord) paying monthly rent to this person who bought this unit from the developer.
    He has this Tenancy Agreement written up as shown below with “Clause 4.1 (a) and (b) ” as follows and i am not sure what 4.1 (a)(v) & 4.1(b) means to me as a tenant as it seems to be working against the Tenant’s interest and Tenant will be paying endless sum of money depending on the Landlord’s declaration of monetary loss. 4.1(b) is the Clause i am most concerned with. Pls assist if possible to help explain to me what it meant.
    Thks in advance.

    4.1 Right Of Entry & Determination of Tenancy
    (a) If and When any one or more of the following events occurs:
    (i) All or any part of the Rent or other sum payable by the Tenant remain unpaid for fourteen (14) days after becoming due and payable (whether or not any formal demand has been made);
    (ii) The Tenant fails to perform or observe any of its covenants in this Agreement which is capable of being remedied fails to do so within fourteen (14) days from the Landlord’s notice;
    (iii) The Tenant becomes bankrupt, insolvent or in the process of liquidation under the laws of any jurisdiction;
    (iv) Any execution or attachment is levied upon or issued against any of the property or assets of the Tenant and is not paid off or discharged within seven (7) days of such execution or attachment; or
    (v) A proposal or notice of compulsory acquisition or intended compulsory acquisition is made by a competent authority in respect of the Development.

    (b) With the exception of Clause 4.1 (a)(v), the Landlord shall be entitled to forfeit the Security Deposit and all other sums paid by the Tenant. The Landlord shall be entitled to claim all less and damage suffered by the Landlord as a result of such termination including without limitation to the loss of Rent and other amounts which otherwise would have been payable by the Tenant had no such termination occurred.


    • Reply Adam R. June 2, 2016 at 11:38 am

      Hi Dong Jun,

      With regards to your question, the terms of the contract which you have mentioned are basic ones that are present in most tenancy agreements.

      For this statement:

      v) A proposal or notice of compulsory acquisition or intended compulsory acquisition is made by a competent authority in respect of the Development.

      It follows from the beginning of clause 4.1. This line is basically indicating that in the event of non-payment of rent or bankruptcy/insolvency by the tenant, the landlord has the right to re-possess the unit.

      As for the below statement:

      (b) With the exception of Clause 4.1 (a)(v), the Landlord shall be entitled to forfeit the Security Deposit and all other sums paid by the Tenant. The Landlord shall be entitled to claim all less and damage suffered by the Landlord as a result of such termination including without limitation to the loss of Rent and other amounts which otherwise would have been payable by the Tenant had no such termination occurred.

      It follows that if any amount of the rent is not paid, the landlord has the right to forfeit the security deposit to cover the cost of rent not paid. This also applies to any form of damage to the property caused by the tenant.

      Do not worry as these are standard procedures which the landlord has to establish before the contract is signed in order to safeguard his interests. For yourself as a tenant, if there is any instance of the landlord being dishonest and demanding that you foot the bill for damages you did not cause, then it is possible to seek recourse from the small claims tribunal.

      Hope this helps!

      Adam R.

  • Reply Ranita Dutta June 6, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    Hi, I am a student in Nus. My landlord and i entered into an oral agreement in a hdb flat in April 2016, now my landlord rented the apartment to one more families in a single room and he is staying with his family in another room AND also he was creating problems for me with various matters as a result of which I am not able to read and also couldn’t even able to cook for myself as the lady from the other tenant family is always busy in cooking and all the tenants including the landlord share a common kitchen. Now I gave a notice to my landlord on 7th May,2016 that I’ll vacate the room on 9th June,2016, which I guess completely legal as per tenancy law that to give 30 days prior notice to the landlord irrespective of the fact that we do not have any written agreement nor any specified termination clause. I am planing to leave on 9th June but my landlord is saying he’ll deduct 9 days rent from security deposit. I have also lodged a complaint in HDB, SINGAPORE, regarding this.Please provide some light to this issue that what else i can do in this?

    • Reply Adam R. June 16, 2016 at 5:30 pm

      Hi Ranita,

      Your case would be quite difficult to resolve because the agreement was made orally, hence it will be a case of his word against yours. It is best to have all rental terms and conditions defined in a tenancy agreement which is signed off by the landlord, yourself and a 3rd party in order to protect yourself.

      That said, was there an explicit agreement that you needed to pay back any money in the event of early exit from the flat?

      Afraid HDB will not be able to respond to your request. The correct channel is via the Small Claims Court

      Hope this helps!

      Adam R.

  • Reply Joyce June 20, 2016 at 1:46 am

    Hi.. I would like to ask if landlord has the right or can he demand for the rental of the remaining unexpired lease term in a room agreement? Due to certain circumstances and I need to early terminate my lease agreement. I have agreed to find a replacement for my landlord, but he told me that even though a new tenant is found, my deposit will still be forfeited. In addition, my landlord said that I have to compensation him for his loss of income if there is no replacement tenant. Is this true? But in the lease agreement, there is no such clause that mentioned “payment in lieu” if early termination. There is only 1 clause which stated “Both tenant and landlord can give 1 month notice for early termination of tenancy after minimum occupation of twelve months. In this case, deposit shall be refundable less deduction of damages caused by tenant, if any”. What does this mean? However, is this clause reasonable? This I believe meant to be early termination clause but the landlord put a min of 12 months (which is exactly the lease term). Please advice.

    • Reply Adam R. June 21, 2016 at 10:44 am

      Hi Joyce,

      With regards to your case, can I find out whether you have been staying in the rental property for at least 12 months as you have mentioned is a condition set between you and the landlord?

      Rental negotiations should be balanced for both sides. As such, I would say your landlord is being slightly unreasonable. Perhaps it is best to re-negotiate to assure him that you will be finding another tenant by a certain time period.

      Also, if it is not explicitly mentioned in the exit clause of the tenancy agreement, the landlord should not have the right to take the security deposit as means of payment for loss of income due to a vacant unit. The security deposit is only meant for repayment of damages caused to the property. If you find that there are no other ways of resolving the matter, you can approach the small claims tribunal ( as a last resort.

      Hope this helps!

      Adam R.

  • Reply Joyce June 21, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Hi Adam,

    Thanks for the respond. My lease is a 12 months lease and no, I did not stay for 12 months as circumstances changed and I need to find a larger unit. I did not early terminate the lease on purpose. The early termination clause was stated that I need to stay for minimum 12 months. However, did not mentioned any compensation. The landlord however now demand for full compensation. In addition, the landlord told me that even if a new tenant is found, my deposit will still be forfeited and he will demand for new deposit from the new tenant. Is this make sense in the eye of law? As the new tenant is only going to continue my lease term.

    Please advice.

  • Reply Jimm August 3, 2016 at 9:34 am

    Hi Adam,
    I’d like to know in the case that the tenancy agreement was signed, security deposit and first month’s rent was paid, but the apartment was not ready on the agreed date of start of rental.

    The tenant decides to back out of the agreement as the apartment was not in a livable condition yet (home improvements and furnishing was incomplete). Does the landlord have a right to keep the security deposit? It is understandable as the tenant is the one cancelling the contract, and it doesn’t state that the security deposit should be returned if the apartment is not ready.

    On the other hand does the tenant have a right to get a full refund of the deposit seeing that the landlord did not fulfill the agreement to provide a ready apartment?

    Thank you in advance.

    • Reply Adam R. August 4, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      Hi Jimm,

      It depends on the extent the home improvements and furnishings are deemed to be incomplete. Would it be inhospitable to live there given the existing condition? For example, renovations which require drilling and re-tiling would be more disruptive compared to one which just needs a coat of paint.

      The tenant can claim that the property they are renting is uninhabitable if the rented unit is unfit to live in and the landlord’s fails to communicate this to them. For this case, it is necessary for the tenant to prove that the property could not be rented out without unreasonable interruption of the tenant’s residency. If they can, then they are relieved of any obligation to pay rent and get back a refund on their deposit.

      Adam R.

      • Reply Jimm August 12, 2016 at 8:24 am

        Thank so much Adam!

  • Reply CASSANDRA PAN August 8, 2016 at 11:00 am


    I have an inquiry, I have a verbal agreement with the landlord that I would confirm to take the place but due to I am still residing in my current house I would need to confirm to my landlord the date when I can latest move out. The new landlord informed me that I should give a pre-deposit $50 and passed me a contract to sign for the new rental. It is stated on the contract that once I have signed and agreed to all the terms deposits will be non-refundable if tenant is leaving in between lease terms.

    I have decided to review the contract and discuss with my partner and eventually we have decided to not take the place due to we have issues on the lease terms. When I contacted the landlord to inform of my rejection on renting the place he said as per:

    Money paid to a person as an earnest or security for the performance of a contract or other obligation.

    He said I am not to refund the $50 due to my obligation. But as to what I understand I have not signed the contract therefore the non-refundable to any deposits do not apply. What I see on my $50 serves as a security to reserve the room on a certain amount of time until I have made my final decision.

    I would like to know is his reason correct?


    • Reply Adam R. September 29, 2016 at 6:09 pm

      Hi Cassandra,

      In principle, the verbal agreement you had with the landlord is not legally binding. Hence, the landlord has no base to keep such deposit, even if it is $50, if no tenancy agreement is signed.

      If you do have time, you can read our article about it too

      Adam R.

  • Reply Justin Ryan August 18, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    Hi, i recently found out that my tenant actually airbnb-ed my unit without my prior permission due to his divorce with his wife so currently they’re not staying there anymore.

    This incident was found out when i went up without prior notification and when i knocked on the door, an unfamiliar face opened the door.

    I would like to find out if i’m able to seek any form of compensation from my tenant (our tenancy agreement had ended), and i’m still holding onto the deposit.

    • Reply Adam R. August 23, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      Hi Justin,

      You do have a case to confiscate the deposit based on breaking the clause of the contract whereby a tenant cannot sublet the unit without prior consent from the owner. In most tenancy agreements, there should be a clause that clearly states no subletting without owner’s permission, and penalties for breaking any of the clauses, usually involving the deposit being forfeited.

      If there isn’t, then the amount to be forfeited is usually negotiated between the landlord and the tenant.

      Hope this helps!

      Adam R.

  • Reply David August 25, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    Can please advice. I am a tenant on a 12 month lease. Due to work issue, I intend to break the lease in the 6th month. However in my tenancy agreement, there’s no penalty stated. Is it required for me to pay the remaining 6 month lease which I think is rather unfair?

    • Reply Adam R. September 12, 2016 at 3:06 pm

      Hi David,

      The best option is to negotiate with your landlord on the penalties on breaking the lease so that there is no miscommunication.

      There are alternative ways besides repaying 6 months lease. For example, you can offer to help your landlord to find another party who wishes to cover the remaining 6 month period.

      Adam R.

  • Reply PIL S. September 8, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    Hi, I am going to rent a HDB unit that not approved by HDB due to MOP issue, the owner will lock one room and rent out the rest of the unit. I am dealing with owner agent as owner is oversea. In this case, I am asking to sign a “room rental agreement” from the agent company, looks like a standard format. But i am having concerns with the contract when the hdb discovers the owner actually not staying with us and afraid hdb will face us to move out.

    will we get protected by the contract if this case really happened, will i get any compensation if owner terminate contract due to hdb force to do so?

    Please advise, thanks!

    • Reply Adam R. September 29, 2016 at 5:48 pm

      Hi PIL S,

      Afraid your situation doesn’t sound too good. First and foremost, HDB has strict rules with regards to MOP, in which the unit cannot be rented out so long as the MOP of 5 years is not met. The owner has a claim in saying he can rent out to others due to him being overseas, but because of the MOP issue, it is still a case where he is flouting HDB’s terms and conditions.

      Because of this, you will not be protected by the contract if HDB finds out about the matter and chooses to evict you (and possibly the owner as well). As such, compensation will also be difficult to claim back. You can still choose to continue with renting the unit at your own risk, however, our advice is to find an alternative option.

      Adam R.

  • Reply Kylie September 10, 2016 at 10:04 am


    I’m a Malaysian working in SG, and commuting daily from JB to SG to work. I occasionally stay over in SG, at my friend’s rented HDB room (1-2nights in a month ) should I be working overtime. Her new landlord wanted to include my name in the Tenancy Agreement as I’m deemed as being a tenant when staying over at my friend’s room. I’m worried about the repercussion of signing a legal contract as im not permanently staying there. I am currently an Employment Pass Holder. Would you happen to know if there’s risk of signing the TA? Thanks so much for your help.

    • Reply Adam R. September 19, 2016 at 5:00 pm

      Hi Kylie,

      The minimum rental period for each tenant in both HDB and private residential properties is 6 months. Hence, it is advisable that you do not sign the tenancy agreement as it would mean that you will be liable to pay rent monthly.

      For more information about rental regulations in Singapore, you can read our article here (

      Hope this helps!

      Adam R.

  • Reply Gem October 27, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    Our 2 years lease has ended last September 14 (which we have been renting for total 6yrs) with advance notice to landlord but we still needed to serve another month extension just to please the landlord. But when the time came for us to collect our 2 months deposit, the LL assessed the unit (which is a 16years OLD building) and saw that part the kitchen counter top (near to the sink) has faded, he wants to charge us for the replacement of the whole counter top which which is currently only made of CHEAP laminate sheets on particle board. He said no maney will be returned to us for that and for him to hire a professional cleaner. I really think that is UNJUST on our part as a good tenant for 6 years, despite the fact that the rental cost was too high for an empty and unrenovated unit. Please advise as we want to prove him that that is a normal wear and tear considering that the material they used for the kitchen counter top cannot even withstand a normal wear and tear for 2 years. Is there any association here in SG that can help us with this difficult owner? Thank you!

  • Reply Gem October 27, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    Our 2 years lease has ended last September 14 (which we have been renting for total 6yrs) with advance notice to landlord but we still needed to serve another month extension just to please the landlord. But when the time came for us to collect our 2 months deposit, the LL assessed the unit (which is a 16years OLD building) and saw that part the kitchen counter top (near to the sink) has faded, he wants to charge us for the replacement of the whole counter top which is currently only made of CHEAP laminate sheets on particle board. He said no money will be returned to us for that and for him to hire a professional cleaner. I really think that is UNJUST on our part as a good tenant for 6 years, despite the fact that the rental cost was too high for an empty and unrenovated unit. Please advise as we want to prove him that that is a normal wear and tear considering that the material they used for the kitchen counter top cannot even withstand a normal wear and tear for 2 years. Is there any association here in SG that can help us with this difficult owner? Thank you!

  • Reply Matthew Teo October 30, 2016 at 10:15 am

    If my tenant dirties the wall with drawings, no clean up of house at all,
    Lost padlock, didn’t clean curtains and toilets, no regular air con maintenance.
    Should I just forfeit his deposit.

    Mr Teo

    • Reply Adam R. October 31, 2016 at 10:06 am

      Hi Matthew,

      The security deposit is meant to repair/replace any damages made to your property by the tenant. From what you have mentioned, yes it is possible for you to claim damages for repainting of the walls, the lost item (if it was there since the beginning of the tenancy) and the cleaning of the curtains and air-con (if it was clearly stated in the contract that the tenant has to do these during his stay).

      Adam R.

  • Reply Elma Balance October 31, 2016 at 1:07 pm


    Can you please advice? Our case is very much the same as the example posted above. We have been renting a private condo for the last 6 years (on a 2 year lease for 3 consecutive terms), and LL is taking advantage of our 2 months deposit. Inspite of making advance notice that we are not renewing for the 4th time, and extending for 1 month out of our goodwill, the LL is holding back our deposit saying that we have dirtied his unit, which is first and foremost 16 years of age!! To be honest, when we moved to that unit it was like hell to us as the kitchen was literally rotten with RAT holes and infested with rats and ants and cockroaches. Its too late when we learned about it only when we moved-in. We have complained for 2-3 months but owner doesn’t want to replace the kitchen at first, until we have convince him with our agent’s help on our 4th month. We appreciated that, even though I know (as an Architect) that the kitchen counter they built is a LOW-COST material and will not last a normal wear and tear for 2 years. So rest is history, we renewed our 2nd term and 3rd term, and its time for us to move on as we really find the unit getting very old. We left the unit last Oct 14, and cleaned as much as we can but we were surprised to know that he would want us to pay for the “partly” faded kitchen counter laminate (its a cheap sheet laminate) and mart of it near the sink got faed due to basic wear and tear, as we have been using for 6 years, we cook, and we wash dishes everyday so that is expected especially with a porous material such as pvc sheet laminates, where molds is expected ti tribe in time….. As a tenant for 6 years with a costly rental of 3000 for a BARE and old unit like that, we feel that it very unfair to pay for that kitchen. And he even wants us to pay half the amount of repainting the small bedroom due to discoloration of the paint (wall holds were starting to show, and i think the repaintitng cover-up (done 2 years ago) is starting to fade and OLD dirty paint stating to show-up), and sticker marks on wooden door which we were able to remove by cleaning it, but still wants us to pay. And he also wants us to pay for the cleaner he would hire for 150$. We really do feel he is taking advantage, and its been more than 2 weeks since we moved out and our deposit is still with him. Luckily, we used up the 2500 for our extended month, and we are just claiming for the 3500$ remaining. Please advice.

    Thank you!

  • Reply Kalyan Kumar November 6, 2016 at 11:30 am


    We have vacated from HDB house in October 2016 after 1.5 tenure and before hand over ,cleaning of house and servicing of air cons was done and also replaced few damaged electrical items and passed over the house well in front of owner agent and the same was informed to Owner as well over email from his agent. After their confirmation only the keys was handed over to their agent.

    During the time of hand over ,my owner agent found small crack on rock solid surface in kitchen and deducted half of the security deposit without my confirmation. He just shared the information in email and it is not properly discussed with us related to this. When I try to negotiate for it , he is re-directing the topic saying that house is not cleaned well after one week gap from handing over date, also they says for such kind of damages tenant has to pay for it which I’m not sure it is genuine or not.

    we don’t know whether rock solid surface will cost half of the security deposit and no idea whether it will come under furniture of the house or not. If it’s not related to furniture, also advise if we need to pay for such kind of damages?

    So could you please suggest how to proceed on this ? I heard that this type of issues can claim in SCT ?


    • Reply Adam R. November 8, 2016 at 2:07 pm

      Hi Kalyan,

      The crack on the solid surface does not come under the furniture damage but under the term “wear and tear”. You may want to read our article on it here to find out more.

      Yes, it is possible to issue a claim in SCT for this, bbut before doing so, it is advisable to also find out the cost of mending the crack so as to ascertain the true cost of the damage.

      Adam R.

  • Reply vinay December 20, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    Hello ,

    I have enquiry related pre-termination prior to the contract end date.
    Consider a person has signed up a contract for 1 year and due to unforeseen circumstances he lost his employment and need to leave the country, What would be a liability of the tenant if nothing is mentioned in the tenancy agreement?

    • Reply Adam R. January 4, 2017 at 10:12 am

      Hi Vinay,

      It is best to negotiate with the landlord regarding this. In normal circumstances, breaking the lease before the due date would warrant having to pay the landlord back for the remainder duration.

      However, given the circumstances of unemployment, an alternative arrangement (eg. assist in helping to search for another tenant) can be made with the landlord.

      Adam R.

      • Reply Heang January 20, 2017 at 1:03 am

        I early terminate the lease of 12 months, so my deposit is forfeited, however the landlord asks me to pay another 1 month because of breaking the lease. In the lease, no clause of early termination and have to pay extra 1 month mentioned, the lease just says ” the landlord agrees to rent 1 room within the period of 12 months” So do i have to pay another a month rental fee, when the deposit is forfeited?

        • Reply Adam R. January 20, 2017 at 2:05 pm

          Hi Heang,

          With regards to your case, no, I think that you do not have to pay for an additional month of lease. The deposit should have already covered for that. Furthermore, such terms are not present in the tenancy agreement, hence it should not be enforced.

          Adam R.

  • Reply Mads T January 30, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    I have a lease ending. lease contract is for 2 year. Part of the contract of lease term is the clause on deposit that should not be used to offset the rent . we are currently based overseas due to work and medical condition of my kids. We have 2 months security deposit with the landlord and we are only requesting to offset the last month rental leaving the landlord one month security deposit . Despite our request, landlord still insist for us to pay the last month rent with no assurance that she will return the 2 months deposit after 14 days of end of lease contract. there is also a clause on the contract that in case of sale of the said property, tenant shall chase the new property owner on the deposit. Landlord had the unit viewed 3 months prior the end of contract. Landlord is firmly demanding not to use one month deposit for our final rent. landlord is even stressing to re enter the premises despite our request to settle the last month rent on a face to face discussion once we are back in the country which is just few days later. we have maintained the house very well, it is far better place when it was handed over to us. I just see that the landlord has obvious intentions of not returning our deposit. hoping for your advise

    Mads T

    • Reply Adam R. February 7, 2017 at 11:06 pm

      Hi Mads T,

      Given that you have managed to protect your rights as a tenant in the tenancy agreement, the landlord is in violation of the terms if he chooses to withhold the deposit. It is best to tell your landlord that you are going to approach the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) in order to make a claim for your deposit.

      You can read more about what you should do at the SCT here:

      Adam R.

      Adam R.

    • Reply Adam R. February 7, 2017 at 11:07 pm

      Hi Mads T,

      Given that you have managed to protect your rights as a tenant in the tenancy agreement, the landlord is in violation of the terms if he chooses to withhold the deposit. It is best to tell your landlord that you are going to approach the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) in order to make a claim for your deposit.

      You can read more about what you should do at the SCT here:

      Adam R.

  • Reply Cecil January 31, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    Good evening.
    I would like to terminate contract, hence aggresive behaviors from other tanents.
    – tried to solve this issue with commnication, explained to agent & owner.
    – gave agent & owner more than one month period for notice (based on agreement)
    – agreement mentioned that, give one month notice period, landlord or tenant can terminate agreement
    – they don’t want to refund deposit. after i complained and answered agent’s comment, agent is not answering my email.

    I’m afriad because other tenants, agent and owner is same side people.
    Can I get deposit back? and what should i prepare to prevent any kind of disputes?

    • Reply Adam R. February 2, 2017 at 5:39 pm

      Hi Cecil,

      Will need to understand your situation better. Could you elaborate:

      – What was the issue that lead to you terminating the contract?
      – What was the specific terms in the contract that mentioned about “given one month notice period, landlord or tenant can terminate agreement”. Right now, it sounds rather vague.
      – What do you mean by other tenants, agent and owner are same side people? How are the other tenants (Presume to be room-mates?) in connection with your tenancy agreement?

      Adam R.

  • Reply Ann February 10, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    My tenant claimed that he resigned from his company because the employer refused to pay him salary. Due to this reason he is giving 2 months noticed (Jan & Feb) to early terminate the contract of the rental. Initially he refused to pay for the rent of the 2 months noticed because he said he have no money to pay. However, he paid the 2 months rental when we told him we want to vacate them. I’ve asked for a letter from his company to proof of his termination but yet to receive it till to date. The rental contract will only end in Mid April’17 but he want to move out in Mid March’17. Should I return him the deposit if he cannot show any proof of termination and the agent told me the tenant went for few job interview so I suspect tenant do not have any intention to go back to his country. He may have rented another cheaper place therefore he want to terminate the contract earlier and he wanted to use the deposit to offset the rental that is why he refused to pay the rental for the notice period. Please advise what should we do? Can I also ask the tenant to show a letter from the immigration regarding his cancellation of his employment pass? The fact that he resigned from the company instead of been terminated? Is this breach of contract or we still need to exercise the diplomatic clause for the above situation and pay him the deposit? Thanks for your advice in advance.

    • Reply Adam R. March 14, 2017 at 1:43 pm

      Hi Ann,

      Yes, it is necessary for him to provide proof from his company that he has indeed been terminated. The diplomatic clause will only come into play upon the provision of the necessary documents to state this. It is advisable to give your tenant a deadline to do so.

      It is possible to forfeit the month of unpaid rent from the security deposit if he cannot produce said proof by the given deadline.

      Adam R.

  • Reply Upali February 15, 2017 at 2:18 am

    Hi, if in the tenancy agreement it is mentioned to refund the security deposit within 14 days of handover of keys, can the owner hold the money by breaching the contract. Considering the fact that there are minor wear n tear for which some amount is supposed to be deducted from the security deposit as agreed by the owner during pre inspection and final handover. However the owner quietly holds our deposit and simply doesn’t respond anything after the keys handover. What is the legal obligation, can the owner be sued for breach of contract

    • Reply Adam R. February 18, 2017 at 1:27 pm

      Hi Upali,

      If the TA does explicitly state that the landlord must return the security deposit within a stipulated timeframe, then yes, the landlord is liable to stick to the agreed upon timeline. Any lapse, unless otherwise communicated, should be taken as a breach of contract.

      The landlord does have a right to deduct from the security deposit for wear and tear, but has he/she mentioned how much is going to be deducted? If it is lesser than the full security deposit amount, the suggestion is to go for the Small Claims Tribunal to resolve the dispute.

      Adam R.

  • Reply Aubrey February 19, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    Hi, 3 of my friends and I have just signed a Tenancy Agreement earlier today with an agent since the landlord is not in the country. We have agreed that we will be moving on 1 April. We do not live with each other and still need to look for our replacements in our current places so we need time. We have also transferred the deposit to the bank account of the owner and paid tax. However, just now the agent informed us that the son of the landlord accepted an offer from another person moving in on 1 March. Our issue is we can’t and she’s trying to convince us to move in on 1 March. We settled everything and paid the deposit to lock in/reserve the unit for us. But the agent is saying that the tenancy agreement that we signed is not yet binding since the landlord has not signed it. Is this true? What can we do to resolve this? Thank you in advance.

    • Reply Adam R. February 23, 2017 at 4:12 pm

      Hi Aubrey,

      Can clarify what is the official start date of the tenure according to the tenancy agreement signed? If it states that tenancy starts on the 1st of April, then the landlord (or his son) should not be allowed to search for another tenant in replacement of your existing contract.

      Usually, the tenancy agreement should be signed in the presence of the landlord and tenant, together with the agent (if applicable). In this case where the landlord is overseas, the tenancy agreement should be signed by him and mailed back with his signature first before you endorsed it so as to remove any miscommunication. Regardless, following the agent’s line of argument that the contract is not legal binding because the landlord has not signed it, you should be able to ask for your deposit back.

      Adam R.

  • Reply Nick F February 21, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Hello. Is there a legal definition of tenantable repair as required in lease agreements? Upon occupation for a new 2 year lease what can reasonably be expected to be an acceptable condition? Or rather, as the lease agreement does not specifically state anything beyond repainting of the house, can a tenant expect that the property is cleaned and fit for habitation, including cleaning up of renovation dirt (dust/paint etc.), proper deep cleaning of all bathroom and kitchen equipment/facilities (removal of grease, grime etc. from cooking, clearing drains, cleaning cupboards) and window cleaning, and can it be expected that badly damaged/scratched/marked/water stained wooden and marble flooring be cleaned and polished? Is there any case law in the tenants favour where the Landlord has not handed over property in a tenantable condition and costs and time to rectify should be borne by the land lord?

    • Reply Adam R. March 8, 2017 at 6:45 pm

      Hi Nick,

      Usually before the signing of the tenancy agreement, both the tenant and the landlord are free to negotiate the terms in said contract to outline in no uncertain terms the extent of responsibility for each party should adhere to. This would include request from the tenant for the landlord to clean up, make repairs, replace worn-out fixtures before he chooses to move in. This can be stated as detailed and explicitly as possible, of which the landlord can choose to agree or disagree on these terms.

      This is encouraged because there is no firm legal definition about what is considered “tenantable repair”. In the rental market, it is commonly assumed that so long as the landlord provides a hospitable accommodation to the average person and doesn’t endanger the lives/privacy of the occupants, then the agreement should be able to come to pass. Understandably, (I’m sure) there have been cases where the tenant does disagree with the landlord about the condition of the property, but again, these are usually grey areas that should be discussed with the landlord prior to signing any contract.

      Adam R.

      • Reply Nick F March 8, 2017 at 6:52 pm

        Many thanks Adam. The end of this discussion in our case was a compromise and not ideal for either party. Lesson: be as detailed and explicit as possible as you said!

  • Reply Rae March 3, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    Hi there,

    My tenant’s lease is ending soon but requested for a short-term extension (6 months). She is requesting for return of half of her deposit (i.e. half month of the monthly rental fee).

    But as far as I know, it is the landlord’s right to ask for at least a month’s deposit, no matter how long the lease is. Am I wrong?


    • Reply Adam R. March 8, 2017 at 5:32 pm

      Hi Rae,

      Yes, you are right. Furthermore, the full amount of the rental deposit should only be paid back after the lease has ended (whether extended or not).

      Adam R.

      • Reply Nick F March 8, 2017 at 6:17 pm

        Dear Adam,
        What about the question of tenantable repair I raised on 21 Feb? Mthks/Nick

  • Reply Mitch March 22, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Hi there. Great blog, thank you for sharing. I’m about to sign a two year lease for $4K per month, I’m expat with EP. I’m a little unclear on what happens if my employer terminates me, say after 6 months, and I have to leave the country. There is a diplomatic clause effected after 12 months. What would be my liability in this case?

    • Reply Adam R. March 23, 2017 at 12:59 pm

      Hi Mitch,

      The worst case it that you’ll stand to lose your 2 months deposit plus the pro rated commission amount that your landlord has paid out to their agent (if applicable). Let you landlord know as soon as your termination is confirmed. You can try to find a replacement tenant to take over the current lease.

      That’s usually the most amicable solution.

      Adam R.

  • Reply Sara August 13, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Hi Adam,

    I would really appreciate some advice on what deems a property uninhabitable in Singapore. LONG story short, we’re currently in a dispute with our LL. Our A/C broke on 30th July, rent was paid on 1st August as normal and LL informed about A/C. Although he has been tricky from the start (explaining this would be a whole other message!) we weren’t particularly worried about the A/C as it’s clearly stated in the TA that it’s on him. However, nearly 2 weeks later, he’s refusing to fix it. Reason? Because, although the loud buzzing starts as soon as it’s turned on, the air is cool for about 3-5 minutes before it starts blowing warm air. He believes we should just live with the ‘inconvenience’ of the buzzing sound and turn the A/C off every few minutes when the hot air starts. Obviously this is ridiculous (not to mention we have a 6 month old baby) and we’ve hardly used the living room this month as it’s unbearable without A/C.

    ANYWAY, we consulted a lawyer, he said it’s not enough to dissolve the TA, but we should basically replace the A/C unit and deduct from Sept 1st rent. This is apparently the best legal option, so we informed the LL this is what we’ll be doing if the A/C isnt fixed within 7 days. Needless to say, he’s furious and says if we do this we will be starting a ‘dispute’ with him. we’re day 3 into the 7 days notice we’ve given him – he’s clearly not going to fix it, so looks like that’s what we’ll be doing.

    THE PLOT THICKENS! Last night, we’re on the couch eating dinner, baby on the floor play-mat in front of us and we suddenly hear horrible loud crackling sound, like fireworks, coming from the floor. It sounded to me like the apartment below us was on fire and this was a burning wood sound. we were petrified – suddenly the tiles started to rise and, no other word for it, explode. Husband grabbed the baby of the floor, a metre away from where it was happening, and yelled at me to get out. We made it out and just watched form the front door as our living room tiles all rose up. (If this makes no sense, google ’tiles suddenly popping up’ and youtube will show you examples.) I can’t tell you how scary it was, but anyway, thankfully no fire, no one was hurt, condo management came to look at it and said it looks like heat made the tiles expand and there was too much pressure (wonder why the living room was so hot???) Anyway, our living room is completely unusable. cant use the dining room table, or couch – there’s essentially no where to sit. There is a small ‘safe’ path you can squeeze around the outside of the room to get to the kitchen. Baby and I are confined to the bedroom today. Since it happened on a Saturday night and today is Sunday, we’re stuck with it for now it seems. Landlord has been informed (I’m sure he’ll find a way to blame us…over-used the floor perhaps?) anyway he’s coming by this evening to view it.

    Our agent is advising that, in light of recent events making the place uninhabitable, and if he refuses to fix A/C and floors within a reasonable time frame, we just tell him we’re dissolving the tenancy agreement and moving out by the end of the month. The A/C has totally taken a backseat, but it’s obviously still a factor in how habitable the place is right now. Having seen the video and photos of the floor, he’s asked us to ‘live with it for now’.

    Advice needed…I’m scared that, while this is certainly the sanest option if the LL refuses to fix it, or wants to take his sweet time can we legally get out of the TA AND have a good case to get our security deposit back in full?? I accept that the latter may not happen, but that seems so unfair and I’d be willing to go to a small claims court over it, but will they be black and white and say ‘you dissolved the TA without LL’s permission, tough luck’ or will they take into account that the place is basically unlivable?!

    Popping tiles seems to come under structural damage. Assume the first step is to get a contractor to view it and assess how much time and cost the repair will take. But how long do we have to put up with this for? No one can expect me and the baby to live in the bedroom for weeks on end surely? Should we be requesting the LL pay for a hotel stay in the meantime? 100% do not want to be in the house with baby and lots of loud,dusty work. Sorry for the long post, just really unsure of our rights here and feel very upset. Thanks in advance

    • Reply Krristy Lam August 14, 2017 at 11:25 am

      Dear Sara,

      I am sorry that you and your family have had to go through such a tumultuous time in your rental premises. It is best to check with your lawyer and agent what is the best recourse you have at this moment as they are most familiar with the clauses in your TA. I have noted that you have video and photographic documentation of the past instances that have potentially rendered the premises uninhabitable. Documentation in black and white/photograph/video as well as a clear chronology of events will serve parties well should they decide to take the matter up at the small claims tribunal. Please click here for more information.

      We hope that the situation can be settled amicably and expediently. Good luck!


  • Reply Marvz January 16, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    Hi there! I would like to ask if a handwritten amendment on the contract is valid without my signature beside it? I am disputing my contract with the owner of the room since she has agreed that we need only serve one month notice and in order to be allowed to leave after because it as stated in the clause. Now, I have been asking her for the copy of the contract because I need it for some application and she has not given me any, even a soft copy. In this case, do I have a case against her for not being able to provide the copy with the stamping duty – not even a soft copy was given? We have rented her place for the past 8 months and now want to move out because we’re moving abroad. I am in doubt that she has tampered the clause and added in “To forfeit deposit if <12 months stay" without my acknowledgement. So, I need to know if a handwritten amendment without the 2 parties signing it is invalid.

  • Reply An shih March 14, 2018 at 1:18 am


    I left my previous rented room in a HDB flat in Bishan. The landlord asked me to move out within 24 hours because I had breached some of the items mentioned in the agreement. I did, but he didnt return any part of the deposit I paid to him, even though there was zero damage done to the room. Now, he breached the agreement multiple times himself. Entering my room in my absence without notifying me, barging into my room and threatening to go downstairs and ‘settle it right now’, are a couple of things off the top of my head. So, my question to you is does he have the right to keep all the deposit when both the parties (tenant and landlord) have breached the agreement. The agent involved is obviously taking the landlord’s side. Is there anything I can do to claim at least some part of the deposit, as there was zero damage to the property?

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