June 18, 2008

Can landlords hike rents by 300%?

MY FAMILY has been living in rented houses in the Bukit Timah area for more than nine years now and we have just been told by our landlord that our rent is to double at the end of our lease this August.

During the past nine years, we have not seen such a huge rent increase. Ours is not an isolated case as we know many other families in many areas across Singapore facing similar or worse situations - some as much as a 300 per cent increase in rent.

How is it that landlords are allowed to do this? A doubling of rent places an unreasonable strain on a household's disposable income, disrupts families and their local ecosystems and only fills the pockets of property owners over-capitalising on current rental vacancy shortages.

Understandably, one would expect some increase in rental costs in these conditions, but a 100 to 300 per cent hike is outrageous.

Can the Singapore Land Authority or Case tell us what our rights are and how we can take counter-measures against such landlords without uprooting our families and moving somewhere else? Surely we're all under enough strain already with rising petrol, energy and food costs without skyrocketing rents.

William Norman Bremner