Q: I rented out my apartment and my tenant insists that it is my responsibility to replace the aircon when they have been leasing it for a year already? He has refused to pay rent until I fix it.
A: Hi Bernard, the various obligations of a landlord and a tenant are given in the lease or tenancy agreement. Depending on how the agreement is drafted, either the landlord or the tenant may have the responsibility to fix things that are broken or damaged on the rented premises.
It is common (but not always the case) for tenancy agreements to state that damages arising out of normal wear and tear would be repaired/replaced at the landlord’s cost, whereas damages caused by the tenant’s neglect or misuse will be rectified at the tenant’s cost. However, not all tenancy agreements are drafted this way, so you should check the one you signed with your tenant to see what it says.
In any case, there is no reason for your tenant to withhold rent. He has a legal obligation to pay rent as long as he is occupying the rented premises. This obligation is independent of whoever’s responsibility it is to replace the aircon. Put differently, the tenant cannot continue to stay in your apartment without paying you rent.
A couple of options are open to you. First, you may serve a lawyer’s letter on your tenant demanding payment. If they persist in not paying, you can take legal action against him by suing him in court over the unpaid sums.
Some tenancy agreement contain a clause allowing the landlord to re-enter the premises should the tenant default on rent. Check your tenancy agreement to see if there is such a clause. If so, you may wish to speak to a lawyer about how you can exercise your right under this clause to re-enter the apartment and to take back possession of it.
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Wei Li practises litigation and arbitration at KEL LLC – a boutique Singapore law firm specialising in civil and commercial law. He acts for corporate and individual clients in managing and resolving disputes across a wide range of issues and industries. Wei Li has a particular interest and expertise in Internet and social-media law. He provides strategic counsel and representation to businesses and high-profile individuals in a spectrum of media-related issues such as reputation management, appropriate-use policies, privacy and digital marketing. In addition to his practice as a lawyer, Wei Li teaches as an adjunct faculty at the Singapore Management University’s School of Law.
For more information, visit http://kel.asia/
Disclaimer: This article provides a general guide to the subject matter and should not be treated as professional legal advice. If you require specific legal advice, you are encouraged to consult a qualified legal professional to obtain the same.