Common Terms You Will Find In Tenancy Agreements In Singapore – What Do They Mean?

This article aims to provide an overall guide as to common terms and obligations imposed on landlords and tenants.

It ought to be noted that whilst landlords and tenants may contract as they wish, and negotiate on any term in the tenancy agreement, there are some common terms found in most tenancy agreements. These shall be explored and explained further below.

Clause Containing Obligation To Pay Rent

A  common express clause in the tenancy agreement is the tenant’s obligation to pay the agreed rent to the landlord. Whilst the landlord may not always ask for rent in the form of money, (one could opt for services rendered too), money is commonly the currency used for the payment of rent.

An example of a clause setting out the tenant’s obligation to pay rent will be:

“The Tenant hereby agrees to pay the Rent and in the manner specified in this Tenancy Agreement and shall not seek or seek to exercise any right or claim to withhold Rent or right or claim to legal or equitable set-off.”

Clause To Provide For “Quiet Enjoyment” And “Exclusive Possession”

Generally, tenancy agreements will contain terms that give the tenant to “quiet enjoyment” and “exclusive possession”. Thus, the landlord is obligated to allow his tenant to exercise his full rights to occupy and use the property exclusively, without any disturbances or intrusions from any outsiders, including the landlord.

An example of a clause setting out the tenant’s rights to “quiet enjoyment” and “exclusive possession” will be:

“Landlord covenants and warrants that upon performance by Tenant of its obligations hereunder, Landlord will keep and maintain Tenant in exclusive, quiet, peaceable and undisturbed and uninterrupted possession of the Leased Premises during the term of this Lease.”

Fair Wear And Tear Clause (And Acts Beyond Control Of Tenant)

Another common clause that one would find in tenancy agreements would be a term that imposes upon the tenant the obligation to keep the leased property in a “good and tenantable repair and condition”. However, to reasonably limit the tenant’s obligation to the landlord in relation to damage that was not caused by reasonable or fair wear and tear and ageing, it is common for caveats such as “fair wear and tear and acts beyond the control of Tenant excepted” to be included in the drafting the fair wear and tear clause.

Whilst there is no legal specification as to “wear and tear” in Singapore law, ordinary ‘wear and tear’ includes small scuff marks on walls, or the reasonable wearing down of furniture, such as a blown light-bulb or reasonable fraying of carpets. The landlord typically would compare the condition of the property pre-tenancy and post-tenancy. Generally, these would not constitute as damages to the property to amount to a deduction of the security deposit. It is for the landlord to bear the cost of routine refurbishment, such as painting of the walls  or the retiling of the whole floor due to reasonable and normal usage.

However, for damages not part of “fair wear and tear”, the landlord can withhold and deduct from the security deposit.

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An example of a clause with regard to “fair wear and tear” will be:

“Tenant shall not allow any damage to be committed on any portion of the Premises, Building or Project, and at the termination of this Lease, by lapse of time or otherwise, Tenant shall deliver the Premises to Landlord, broom-clean, in as good condition as existed on the Commencement Date of this Agreement, ordinary wear and tear and damage by casualty excepted. The cost and expense of any repairs necessary to restore the condition of the Premises as required by the preceding sentence shall be borne by Tenant.”

No ‘Alterations Or Additions’ To Premises

It is common for tenancy agreements to provide for a clause prohibiting tenants from making any alterations or additions to or affecting the structure or exterior of the premises without the landlord’s consent. Take for example, a tenant is not to remove fixtures or fittings, or carry out works that involve the hacking of floors, walls or structural columns of a leased property, without the landlord’s expressed approval. This would include the unauthorised installation of doors or even air-conditioning units.

An example of a clause prohibiting “alterations or additions” to the premises will be:

“The Tenant must not make or permit to be made any alterations or additions to or affecting the structure or exterior of the Premises or any part thereof or the Landlord’s fixtures, fittings and decorations therein.”

Right Of Re-Entry Clause

Lastly, a common clause found in tenancy agreements would be that of a right of re-entry clause that enables the landlord the right or option to re-enter the premises and forfeit the tenancy when the tenant has failed to pay rent, and in doing so, breached the tenancy agreement. For land governed by the Land Titles Act, the right of re-entry is implied in all leases.

An example of a clause giving the “right of re-entry” will be:

“In the event that the Tenant is in default under this lease, the Landlord may re-enter and take possession of the Premises (or any part of it) at any time (even if any previous right of re-entry has been waived) and immediately on such re-entry, the Lease will be terminated.”

At Emerald Law we have lawyers who are experienced in handling  landlord and tenancy related matters in Singapore. Contact Us today to schedule a free consultation where we can advise you on your situation and provide you with solutions.

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