“Can my landlord forbid me to work from home?” — Tenant asks after his landlord won’t allow it because it’s like “running a business”

SINGAPORE: A tenant in Singapore recently found himself in trouble after his landlord accused him of ‘running a business’ and breaking apartment rules. On Friday, April 19, he took to r/ask Singapore and asked, “Can my landlord stop me from working from home?”

He explained: ‘I recently signed a one-year room contract, and there is no clause in it that says I can’t work from home. I normally work from home about once a week (as an employee), and I have a rather unusual schedule where I leave for work late and return late (leave at 12, return at 9). But my landlord just told me that I can no longer work from home.”

When the tenant tried to clarify that the lease did not explicitly prohibit him from working from home, the landlord countered that the activity falls under running a business, a practice not allowed in the apartment building.

Despite the tenant’s efforts to resolve the situation by offering to pay an additional amount for utilities, the landlord remained steadfast in his position and insisted that he would pay the remaining rent for that year and the agent’s fees would cover, which essentially implied that the man had broken the rent. the lease agreement.

He then asked, “Can I just forfeit my deposit and move right away to avoid any more drama with this landlord, without having to pay real estate agent fees or additional fees?

Is working from home occasionally really considered running a business? And is it therefore illegal to rent a room for this purpose?”

“As long as it is not explicitly or implicitly stated anywhere in the rental agreement, the landlord cannot prohibit you from doing so”

Singaporean Redditors expressed their shock at the landlord’s actions and demands in the comments section.

They noted that the landlord cannot legally prohibit someone from working from home unless the contract states how many hours the tenant may stay in the home each day.

One of the Redditors said that they have encountered landlords who initially prohibited tenants from “working from home,” but this problem is often resolved when tenants offer to pay the costs of utilities such as air conditioning and electricity.

He then commented: “Your landlord is extreme.”

Another added: “I swear Singaporeans just want to be landlords without taking on the risks, efforts and obligations of being a landlord.

For example, you want to receive rental income for your guest rooms, but want your tenant to basically behave as if he is invisible / doesn’t live there?

I’ve seen so many complaints about stupid requirements like not being able to wash clothes more than once a week / not being able to cook / not being able to boil water / not being able to sit in the living room / not being able to use electricity during certain hours – like: has you a tenant or a prisoner? !”

A third Redditor stated: “If it’s not in the contract, you can legally move on to WFH. If it were illegal, there wouldn’t be all this current discussion about employers having to consider approving WFH requests.

I’m not a lawyer, but the only way it counts as running a business is if you register your business at your landlord’s address.”

A few others suggested he move as soon as possible, but took the deposit with him because he never broke the rules and was looking for properties, such as rental rooms for co-living, without landlords.

In November 2023, Online today reported that many landlords had added a requirement or rule that their prospective tenants could not work from home.

Two main reasons were given at the time. One was that landlords didn’t want to deal with the hassle of splitting utility bills, and the other was that some landlords were concerned about privacy.

Landlords feel ‘suffocated’ when tenants stay at home all day, according to an estate agent. “Even though it’s their own unit and their own place, they feel like they’re under attack,” the officer said.

Also read: “Is this legal?” — Tenant asks after her landlord installs CCTV where he can see five ladies gathering together