SINGAPORE: A foreigner recently shared on social media that his landlord asks him to “pay S$34,000 for breaking lease.”

In a post on r/askSingapore, he explained that he had to break his lease eight months into a 24-month term because he lost his job in Singapore.

“Had to look outside and finally found an (job) opportunity outside of SG and have to move out. The lease is on my partner’s name alongside mine,” he wrote. However, the landlord informed him that he must pay a hefty sum for moving out early. 

“Market is down so we’re looking for folks to take over the lease but he said he’d charge me the difference in rent for the entire 24 months (16 months pending) + Agent fees.”

According to his calculations, these fees would all add up to S$34,000.

He then asked, “While we continue to look for folks to take over the lease, What are my options here for in-case we don’t find someone?”

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“Technically you can just leave and forfeit your deposit. There’s nothing he can do.”

In the comments section, Singaporean Redditors advised him to review the tenancy agreement to see if there is a clause that states he is responsible for paying the difference in rent if he breaks the contract early.

According to them, without this written in black and white, the landlord can only confiscate his security deposit. One Redditor said, “Technically you can just leave and forfeit your deposit. There’s nothing he can do.

Chances are they wouldn’t even try, it would require spending money to chase you. That’s money that is wasted and he knows that.”

Another commented, “Sounds like a scare tactic. Are you even contractually obligated to find a replacement? As a landlord, I want to decide who gets to rent my place, why would I leave it to an outgoing tenant to arrange this? That’s just bizarre.”

A third Redditor, who is also a landlord, added,  “Your landlord is being ridiculous. Just forfeit your deposit and walk.

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I highly doubt he’s going to give you any back considering his first reaction is to try and rip you off with 14 months (what a joke).”

Other Redditors also suggested looking for the diplomatic clause in the agreement. 

They explained that foreigners typically have this clause in their contracts, allowing them to terminate the lease if they lose their jobs and leave the country. Diplomatic clauses often take effect after 12 months.

One Redditor stated, “4 months to diplomatic + 2 months security deposit means your liability is max 4 months.

Talk to your landlord about meeting halfway on that basis. You don’t have to talk to him about finding new tenant or compensating for other nonsense: 6 months rental is a great deal and gives a good window to find a new tenant.”

When can a diplomatic clause be invoked?  

According to Singapore Legal Advice, the tenant or foreign expatriate may invoke the diplomatic clause if they are transferred out of Singapore or their company terminates their employment.

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However, the tenant must provide documentary evidence of the job transfer or termination to invoke this clause. Additionally, the tenant must have stayed for at least 12 months for the clause to be applicable.

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