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Last updated: 22 Nov 2000

research report supported by Asiahomes Internet for  Asia USA Realty (Singapore) asiahomes.com Pte Ltd, http://www.asiahomes.com

The diplomatic clause

First housing agent to be jailed for abetting the landlord to rent to illegal tenants.

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The diplomatic clause in Singapore’s lease agreement is really a one-sided advantage for the expatriate Tenant as the Landlord has no similar option to terminate the tenancy.

There are numerous cases where the diplomatic clause is used to break lease in order to benefit by living in newer housing or cheaper housing.

A common way to break the lease is to be "no longer employed" by the Company when you are fed up with the Landlord or for economic reasons.

Questions of one- or two-year lease or one-year plus one-year extension are answered in correspondence below. Such FAQ are important to relocating expatriates

1.  What is a "diplomatic clause"?


In the event that Mr S E, who is occupying the demised premises at the commencement of the tenancy is deported from Singapore, refused permission by the Singapore Government to reside in Singapore, or transferred or relocated from Singapore to another country, or is no longer in the employ of the Tenant, the Tenant shall, subject to satisfactory documentary evidence to be given to the Landlord, be at liberty to terminate the term hereby created upon giving to the Landlord two (2) months' notice in writing or by payment of two (2) months' rent in lieu of notice, provided twelve (12) calendar months shall have lapsed from the date of commencement of this Agreement and upon the expiry of any such notice, this Agreement shall cease and determine but without prejudice to the rights of the Landlord in respect of any antecedent breach by the Tenant of any of the terms and conditions hereof.

2.  If we take a one year lease, but close to its expiry that realise we will be staying in Singapore another year, can we not simply roll over the lease for another year?

Yes if the lease has a one-year option to extend at "rentals to be agreed upon by the Tenant and Landlord" (standard clause). In my opinion, this option is redundant, because the Landlord may ask for a much higher rental just to get rid of the Tenant who will not be able to afford the new rent.

3. What are the laws regarding rent increases:
a) Can a landlord increase the rent during the term of a lease?

No, if the Tenant remains the same. However, if there is an assignment, the Landlord may or may not increase/decrease the rent.

b) if we take a "2-year lease with the diplomatic clause in our favour" would that mean the rent could not increase over the 2 year period?


c) if we take a one year lease, will the rent increase in the second year?

The Landlord will insert this in this one-year extension clause that the rent for the extension will be at a rent to be mutually agreed. This is standard practice. The following scenarios will happen:

1.    If the Landlord has no better offers, the Landlord will accept the same or decreased rent from the existing tenant.

2.   If the Landlord feels that he may have better offers. he may just ask for a small rental increase in the new lease. If the Tenant disagrees, the Landlord may withdraw the offer.

3.   Sometimes, some misunderstandings occur during the one-year lease and the Landlord simply will not renew the lease at the same rent to the existing Tenant.

4.   At other times, the Landlord may wish to vacate the unit to live in or to sell. It is easier to sell without tenancy if the prospective Buyer wants to live in it.

5.   If someone gives a better offer, you have to vacate at the end of the 12th month.

Therefore, the best recommendation is to take a 2-year lease with the diplomatic clause.

Illegal tenants.


Streats, 21 Nov 2000
reported that Mr Joseph Lui Hang Yin, 54, a senior associate manager with Citiwide Realty International,  probably because the first housing agent to be successfully prosecuted yesterday in a case of harbouring immigration offenders.

He was sentenced to 18 months jail for abetting Madam Tan Sock Meng, the owner of a Serangoon Road apartment, a 72-year-old landlady in renting out her apartment to illegal immigrants.

Under the law, it is the responsibility of ther landlord to carry out sufficient checks to ensure that the tenants are not illegal immigrants. 

Mr Lui promised to coduct the necessary checks for her and introduced 2 Chinese nationals.  Mr Liu was paid commission of $800 and $500 from the Landlord and tenant respectively after the tenancy agreement was signed on July 5, 1999 between the Landlord and Huang Guo Ping.  .

The Deputy Public Prosecutor R D Gangatharan argued that the onus was for Mr Liu to verify the documents ad that Lui had ignored that "Huang'" employment pass had already expired and that no original documents were given to Madam Lau, the daughter of the Landlady.  The DPP urged the court to impose a heavier sentence as Liu had been previously convicted of cheating and criminal breach of trust.

District Judge See Kee Oon said: "Liu had blithely chosen to disregard what were highly suspicious circumstances and he "deliberately ignored all the signs" pointing to the tenant's illegal status.


It is best that you verify the documents by checking with the originals and make sure that the Landlord has a copy too.   

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