Unreasonable Landlord Singapore Edition: Look Out For These 5 Red Flags - New Gen Home

Unreasonable Landlord Singapore Edition: Look Out For These 5 Red Flags

Renting a place to live in Singapore can be costly, and as a tenant, you want to ensure that your deposit is safe and returned when you move out. Unfortunately, some landlords may be unreasonable when it comes to returning your deposit, unjustly withholding some or all of your money. To protect yourself from such situations, here are some measures you can take. Check out my post on “Unreasonable Landlord Singapore Edition: Tips for Securing Your Deposits”
Safeguard your deposits from unreasonable landlord
Banner for Unreasonable landlord Singapore Edition
Table of Contents

As long as I don’t breach the terms in the tenancy agreement, I’m good?

Screen sample copy of a tenancy agreement

As a tenant, you expect your landlord to be reasonable, fair, and responsive to your needs. After all, you’re paying them a significant amount of money each month to provide you with a safe and comfortable place to live. 

However, not all landlords are created equal, and dealing with an unreasonable landlord can be a frustrating and stressful experience. Even if you try to follow all the rules and regulations set forth in your lease agreement, there may come a time when your landlord’s unreasonable behavior makes it difficult for you to enjoy your home. In today’s guide, I’ll explore some tips and strategies that tenants can use to avoid unreasonable landlords and protect their rights as renters.

Avoiding breach of contract 

First thing all tenant should be mindful, it is crucial to understand the key terms in your tenancy agreement in order to avoid any misunderstandings or legal complications. The agreement is a contract between the landlord and the tenant. The landlord is the owner of the rented property, while the tenant is the person who pays rent to live in the property. Paying rent on time is an essential aspect of the tenancy agreement, as it is a legal obligation for the tenant. Failure to pay rent on time can attract fees or lead to legal action. 

Additionally, the tenant subletting the premises should be addressed in the tenancy agreement. Subletting is when the tenant rents out part or all of the property to someone else. This action should be authorized by the landlord, and any subletting should be outlined in the tenancy agreement to avoid legal issues. 

Overall, it is essential to understand the terms in your contract and avoid giving the landlord any excuses to forfeit your security deposit.

Look for unreasonable terms and clauses before signing any agreement 

Before you sign any tenancy agreement, it’s crucial to keep an eye out for any unfair clauses or terms that might disadvantage you and potentially result in the loss of your deposit. Some examples of such clauses include hidden fees, penalties that are too harsh for breaking the lease, and clauses that restrict your rights or ability to take legal action if something goes wrong. For instance, you might come across a clause that requires you to pay for repairs or maintenance, even if it’s due to the landlord’s negligence. Another common example is a clause that limits the notice period required before the landlord can enter the property.

To safeguard your deposit and interests, you should thoroughly read and review the tenancy agreement, carefully considering the implications of each clause. If any of the terms or clauses are unclear to you, it’s always a good idea to ask for clarification or consult with a legal professional. 

In most cases, you might even be able to negotiate with the landlord to modify or remove certain clauses that you deem unreasonable or unfair.

Based on my experiences, here are some warning signs that I believe can help tenants avoid leasing from unreasonable landlords in the first place and protect themselves from potential issues down the road.

Red flag 1: Racial discrimination

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

When searching for a place to rent, it is important for tenants to be aware of red flags that could indicate an unreasonable landlord. One such red flag is if the landlord demonstrates any form of racial discrimination. If a tenant notices that the landlord is not treating all prospective tenants equally, or if they are making derogatory comments based on race, this may be a sign of a problematic relationship between landlord and tenant. Blacklisting tenants based on race is not only morally reprehensible, but can be potentially illegal in some countries.

Red flag 2: Unreasonably high minor repair costs 

Pictures of a man handling a drill kit

Another key red flag is suspiciously high minor repair charges that the tenant is expected to bear. While it’s not uncommon for landlords to charge tenants for minor repairs, such as replacing a light fixture or fixing a leaky faucet, these costs should be reasonable and in line with industry standards. If a landlord is consistently charging exorbitant fees for minor repairs, it’s a sign that they may be taking advantage of their tenants. As a tenant, it’s crucial to carefully review the rental agreement and ask questions about any repair charges that seem unreasonable.

Red flag 3: No proper documentation of conditions report

Hand applying silicone sealant

 When looking for a place to rent, it is important to be aware of any red flags that may indicate an unreasonable landlord. One such red flag is the lack of a property condition report. This report is a detailed document that outlines the condition of the rental property, including any existing damage or issues, at the time the tenant moves in. Without such a report, the tenant may be held responsible for any pre-existing damage when they move out. It is a common practice for the landlord to provide a property condition report, but some landlords may not do so. If a landlord does not provide a property condition report, the tenant can request that they do so, as it is not only in their best interest but also within their rights. 

Red flag 4: Landlord not communicative with your concerns

Man starting at a laptop in frustration in the library

As a tenant, one of the biggest red flags to look out for when trying to avoid an unreasonable landlord is if they are not communicative with your concerns or complaints about the property. If you’re unable to get a response from your landlord regarding issues and concerns, it could be a sign that they are not proactive or attentive towards their property management responsibilities. For example, if you have asked about the last air-con serviced date or some repairs that needed to be done, and there’s no response or a slow response from the landlord, it’s a clear indication that they are not interested in resolving issues that may arise. This could be a frustrating experience for tenants, especially when their concerns are genuine and require an immediate response. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that your landlord is prompt in responding to your queries before signing a lease agreement.

Red flag 5: Unreasonable or unusual terms in your tenancy agreement 

Unfair terms in tenancy contract

When searching for a rental property, it is crucial to pay close attention to the terms and conditions outlined in the tenancy agreement. One red flag to look out for is an unreasonable or unusual clause that gives the landlord an unfair right to forfeit the lease. This clause allows the landlord to terminate the tenancy agreement, despite the tenant fulfilling all agreed-upon obligations. Such a clause can leave tenants vulnerable to eviction, which can be disruptive and costly. It is essential to read the entire tenancy agreement carefully and seek legal advice if necessary to avoid getting caught in a lease that may be difficult to break should issues arise. Always remember that having an unreasonable landlord can create a stressful, unhappy home environment.

Other unreasonable terms in your tenancy agreement

Contract analyzing for fraud prevention. Hand holding magnifying glass over a contract. Research documents. Vector illustration
  1. Unreasonable Security Deposit: Some landlords may require a security deposit that is far in excess of the market rate, which could be a red flag for potential issues down the line.
  2. Hefty Early Termination Fees: Some tenancy agreements may have clauses that impose hefty penalties on tenants who terminate the lease early, which could be a problem if the tenant’s circumstances change unexpectedly.

  3. Prohibitive Restrictions on Visitors: Some tenancy agreements may restrict tenants’ ability to have guests over or may require tenants to get consent from the landlord before having visitors, which could be a significant inconvenience for tenants.

  4. Unfair Maintenance Responsibility: Some tenancy agreements may require tenants to take responsibility for repairs and maintenance beyond reasonable wear and tear, which could be an unfair burden for tenants. 

What recourse can I seek if I am dealing with an unreasonable landlord?

If you are stuck in a tenancy agreement and is currently dealing with an unreasonable landlord who is attempting to forfeit your deposit in Singapore, you may have legal recourse available to you. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Review Your Tenancy Agreement: First, review your tenancy agreement to determine what it says about the return of your deposit. Most standard tenancy agreement requires landlords to return the deposit within 14 days of the end of the tenancy, provided that there are no claims against it. If the landlord is violating any of the terms of the agreement or failing to comply with the law, you may have a basis for a legal claim.

  2. Communicate with Your Landlord: If you believe that your landlord is acting unreasonably, try to communicate with them first to resolve the issue. Make sure to document all conversations and keep copies of any emails or letters sent.

  3. Apply to the Small Claims Tribunal: If communication with your landlord doesn’t resolve the issue, you can apply to the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT), a government agency that handles disputes involving amounts up to SGD 20,000. The SCT can help you resolve the dispute through mediation or a hearing.

  4. File a Lawsuit: If the amount in dispute is more than SGD 20,000 or you are not satisfied with the SCT’s decision, you may need to consider filing a lawsuit in the court system. It’s important to consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable in landlord-tenant law in Singapore. An attorney can help you determine if you have a case and advise you on how to proceed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If you have a complaint about your landlord in Singapore, there are several options available for you. Depending on the nature of the issue, you can file a complaint with different authorities.

If you live in a Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat, you can file a complaint with the HDB. They regulate public housing and ensure a comfortable living environment. For private properties, you can file a complaint with the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) if the issue relates to building defects or structural safety.

If you have a complaint about your landlord’s business practices or services, you can file a complaint with the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE). They help consumers resolve disputes with businesses.

If you have a dispute with your landlord related to the tenancy agreement or rent payment, you can file a claim with the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT). They handle small claims disputes between parties in Singapore.

When filing a complaint or claim, provide as much information as possible, including any supporting documents or evidence. Keep copies of any communication with your landlord and any attempts to resolve the issue before filing a complaint.

Typically, when a lease agreement expires, the landlord is not obligated to renew it. 

Fair wear and tear is the reasonable and expected deterioration of a rental property that occurs over time due to normal usage, and which is not the fault of the tenant. In Singapore, the definition of fair wear and tear is not specifically defined by law, but it is generally accepted to mean the natural and expected aging of the property that occurs with regular use and time.

Under Singaporean law, a landlord must follow a legal process to terminate a tenancy and cannot take the law into their own hands by locking the tenant out of the property. The proper procedure for ending a tenancy depends on the terms of the tenancy agreement and the specific circumstances of the case.


Renting a property is a significant cost commitment, and it’s crucial to take the time to review the tenancy agreement thoroughly. By being aware of any unreasonable terms or clauses that might disadvantage you as a tenant, you can protect yourself and ensure that your deposit is secure. Always remember to seek advice from legal professionals, negotiate with the landlord if necessary, and trust your instincts. By following these guidelines and being proactive, you can make the most out of your rental experience and avoid any potential problems.

As a realtor working in a continuously changing economic landscape, it is increasingly important to advise my clients beyond transactions. Every client’s financial situation is unique, there is no one size fits all solution for every case. As a realtor myself, my job goes beyond transactions, it is important to go beyond my duties and assist my clients to seek the best outcome possible beyond property-related matters.

Need a review on your property investment plans, best buys available or assistance in the marketing of your properties?

Get a 1-time free 30 min consultation

  • An in-depth financial affordability assessment and timeline planning
  • Highly relevant investment insights
  • A clear and customised investment road map
  • A curated list of best buys in today’s market with good growth potential & minimal risks
  • Selecting units with the highest potential in a new launch project
  • Advice on marketing and getting a buyer for your property fast
  • Find out more about me here

Recommended for you

Add a public comment...

I'm here to assist you

Something isn’t clear?

Feel free to contact me, and I will be more than happy to assist with your real estate needs.