How to resolve tenancy disputes

Parties involved can apply to State Courts or seek mediation for claims of $60k or less

Reader Jennie Shue wrote to askST: "Why do commercial tenancy disputes fall outside the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Tribunals, even if it is just $10,000?" Senior Law Correspondent K. C. Vijayan replies.

The Small Claims Tribunals, part of the State Courts of Singapore, are meant to settle spats between consumers and suppliers.

There is a checklist on the State Courts' website (https://www. statecourts.gov.sg/SmallClaims/ Pages/GeneralInformation.aspx) and rental issues are specifically omitted.

Tenancy features contracts which may involve complex issues of interpretation which a Small Claims Tribunal is not designed to settle. For tenancy disputes, the parties involved can apply to the State Courts, where civil claims for the sum involved will be dealt with in a Magistrates' Court.

There is also the option of the Small Case Commercial Mediation Scheme, which provides mediation services to help parties settle commercial disputes where the sum of the claim is $60,000 or less. Disputes falling into this category include cases involving tenancy, car repairs, unpaid salaries and renovation matters.

This service, provided by the Singapore Mediation Centre, is designed to be affordable. The first two hours of mediation are free. Thereafter, the fee starts from $80.25 (inclusive of goods and services tax), depending on the size of your claim. For the full fee schedule, go to the centre's website at http://www.mediation.com.sg/ business-services/small-case- commercial-mediation -scheme/

You can begin a mediation process by simply filling out an application form on the website, and sending it by e-mail to enquiries@mediation.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2016, with the headline 'How to resolve tenancy disputes'. Print Edition | Subscribe