What can you do if your tenant doesn’t pay?

Recently, it was reported that a Hougang homeowner was “forced to move out” after his tenants didn’t pay rent for 3 years and refused to move out.

The 51 year old homeowner works at a supermarket and had lived in his three-room flat at Hougang Avenue 8 for over 30 years. He reportedly had no problems with foreigners and only had trouble with this local couple.

The couple moved into his flat in July 2013, they paid for nine months and suddenly stopped and refused to move. When confronted, the would plead with him and even kneel in front of him begging for “6 more months” to look for a job and pay. The owner obliged, but the matter kept repeating itself. Eventually the owner himself moved out and rented a house from a colleague.

Lodging a police report was little use, this is a private matter of contract and not a crime – they cannot intervene. 

If a tenant breaches the agreement through non-payment of rent, you have the right to forfeit the tenancy, re-enter the premises and evict the tenant. There are two ways you can do this; through a court process, or you can go and change the locks. 

To re-enter the premises, you must first make a formal demand for the tenant to leave the house. Where that fails, serve a notice to the tenant specifying how he/she has breached the contract.

The above is an extreme action, but in the case of the Hougang homeowner, perhaps would be his best way to get rid of a non-paying tenant.

The manner in which you evict a tenant depends a lot on how you conclude a tenancy agreement. Before you agree to let out your home, make sure you specify what acts would result in a breach and what the remedy is.

As for the case above, the best he can do is to go and change the locks and remove the tenant. He may be kind, but this sort of matters are best left to welfare organisations or the Community Development Council to manage, the burden should not be on him.



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