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  • Writer's picturechloekks

The Budget Way to Resolving Rental Disputes-Small Claims Tribunals

Ever had a disagreement with your landlord or tenant? Don't worry, you don't always need expensive lawyers! The Small Claims Tribunals (SCT) exist to help settle rental disputes between landlords and tenants without breaking the bank on legal fees. While rental disputes are fairly uncommon, they can happen, especially with the recent rise in rental properties. The SCT has seen an increase in claims, going from 930 in 2019 to 1,510 in 2023. These claims often involve disagreements about the terms of the tenancy agreement or unexpected issues that come up during the rental period.

The Understanding Small Claims Tribunals

The Small Claims Tribunals (SCT) are part of the State Courts of Singapore, established in February 1985 to resolve minor disputes quickly and affordably. This includes rental issues between tenants and landlords. Common disputes handled by the SCT include:

  • Landlords seeking damages for amenities, appliances, or property.

  • Tenant requesting repairs from the landlord.

  • Early termination of tenancy agreements.

  • Forfeiture of security deposits at lease end.

  • Eviction of tenants.

Main features:

  • Objective: Resolve minor claims quickly and affordably.

  • Claim Limit: Up to $20,000, extendable to $30,000 with mutual consent.

  • Filing Fees: Range from $10 to $300 depending on claim amount.

  • Limitation Period: 2 years to file a claim.

  • Pre-filing Steps: Attempt to resolve disputes amicably before filing a claim.

Before lodging a claim, ensure the following:

  • Both parties must have a valid tenancy agreement.

  • The agreement must pertain to residential, not commercial, property.

  • The tenancy period must not exceed two years.

  • - Neither party should be bankrupt or insolvent; check via the Ministry of Law’s Insolvency Office.

Not all wear and tear is compensable through the Small Claims Tribunals (SCT).

The dreaded 'Fair Wear and Tear' clause protects tenants from claims for minor damage caused by everyday living. Think scratches on the door - that's probably fair wear and tear. But fear not, all hope is not lost!

If your tenant goes beyond reasonable wear and tear, like punching a hole in the wall (let's hope not!), you can file a claim through SCT.

The key is to have evidence! Take pictures of the property, including furniture and appliances, at the start and end of the tenancy. These pictures will be your best friends if a disagreement arises - proof that the damage wasn't there before your tenant moved in.

How do I fill it?You can submit a claim online through the Community Justice and Tribunals System (CJTS)

For a full guide can click here.

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