An Expat Guide to Renting A Home in Singapore

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A melting pot of cultures, Singapore is a cosmopolitan city where exciting opportunities and new experiences for both work and play await. Raring to go? Let’s get to the first order of business: finding the perfect abode for you and your family. 

Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned expat well versed in the art of relocation, finding a suitable home in a foreign country can be a daunting task. Thankfully, Singapore’s urban infrastructure is ranked as one of the best in the world, featuring easy-to-access public transport networks, well-connected roads, as well as top-of-the-line healthcare and educational facilities. These make it all the easier to find a home you love!   

Renting a home in Singapore is about finding the sweet spot between convenience and affordability. Those on a budget can consider single rooms in government-owned apartments (called Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats), while those with a little more to spare can look at private properties like condominium units or landed houses. Rental prices are also influenced by location - generally, the nearer the property is to the city centre, the more it’ll cost.  

 

How to Rent A Home in Singapore

To seamlessly filter through these factors, PropertyGuru Singapore is a one-stop shop for all your property hunting needs. Here’s a step-by-step guide to renting property in Singapore. 

 

1. Shortlist potential homes 

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Peruse a thorough listing of residential properties based on what matters the most to you. You can narrow down the listings on PropertyGuru by 

  • property type,
  • proximity to MRT,
  • properties by area size,
  • lease terms and/or 
  • price.

PropertyGuru will then connect you to reliable Property Agents based on your preferences. The search portal also has a resource of handy how-to-guides, which are useful for helping expats get acquainted with the local property market. 

 

2. Inspect properties

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Love at first sight? Then it’s time to inspect the unit before making a preliminary offer to the landlord. 

Property inspections can be arranged with registered agents via PropertyGuru. Experts in the market, these  agents can help you explore the neighbourhood and address any concerns on the condition of the property, the amenities nearby, the noise levels, your immediate neighbours and, perhaps, the reputation of your owner. 

Checklist
Take notes and photos of the following: 

  • Any cracks, scratches and/or other damages caused by mould or water
  • Any exposed pipes and/or broken fixtures 
  • Any creaking and/or damaged furniture  
  • Number of household appliances and their condition 
  • Number of air-conditioning units (as they require regular servicing)
  • Take measurements of the room (for moving furniture)
  • Enquire about parking on or near the property 
  • Ask about the landlord’s policy on keeping pets (if applicable) 

If you’d like to proceed, the next steps are to prepare a Letter of Intent (LOI) and submit it together with a good faith deposit, which is usually equivalent to one or two month’s rent. After you sign the Tenancy Agreement (TA), the good faith deposit will typically be used as payment for the security deposit.

 

3. Do the ‘paperwork’

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The Tenancy Agreement (TA) is a legally binding document detailing the rental terms between you (the tenant) and the landlord. It is usually prepared by the landlord (or their appointed agent) according to the Council of Estate Agencies’ (CEA) template. 

Special attention needs to be paid to the following clauses:

Security Deposit

At the end of the lease, the clause for Security Deposit usually sets the terms for a deduction, which is used to cover the cost of repairing and replacing any damaged items, while allowing leeway in fair wear and tear of items over time.

Diplomatic Clause

This clause allows you to break the rental agreement if you lose your job or are unexpectedly posted to another country and need to leave Singapore. The notice period is usually two months.

Minor Repairs & Other Maintenance Clauses

As per the standard rental agreement, tenants are liable to pay for any repair and maintenance costs that fall below a range of $150 to $300. This amount is negotiable. 

Option To Renew

This clause allows tenants to extend their lease for another year as long as they give prior notice. The tenant or landlord can amend clauses within the existing agreement on mutual consent.

Late Payment/Non-Payment of Rent

The landlord is allowed to set the consequences should the tenant pay late rent, or is unable to pay the rent at all. Usually, this will involve interest imposed on the outstanding rent.

“En Bloc” Clause

This clause serves to protect the landlord’s interest if the property is sold for redevelopment. In such circumstances, the landlord can choose to terminate the lease without having to compensate the tenant.

Privacy and access

This clause specifies a list of reasons under which the landlord is allowed to access the premises while you’re staying there. This usually includes repairs, renovations and viewings for future tenants.

 

4. Make a move-in checklist

The landlord or owner must prepare an inventory report for you to check and sign on the day of your move-in. It includes detailed information on the condition of the property’s interiors, and covers existing damage with any fixtures, fittings and appliances. If you have inspected the property well at the time of viewing, you can tally them with your photos of the move-in day to record the original condition of the property and look for any inconsistencies.

In Singapore, the tenants of a newly rented property enjoy an initial grace period of 30 days under the Problem-Free Period Clause. This clause protects the tenant from liability of any damages caused by a previous tenant, and allows the tenant time to inform the landlord of any damages or issues with the property over the initial 30-day period. 

 

Searching for a Place to Call Home Can Be a Breeze 

Besides renting, PropertyGuru also caters to Singaporeans and PRs who are looking to buy, sell or finance their dream home. Start browsing the top Singapore properties for sale and rent on PropertyGuru, or compare home loan interest rates on PropertyGuru Finance.   

 

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This article was written by Manasi Hukku, who likes to cover the intersection between research and relevance to help readers find a place they'll love. She is a Medium columnist, mother of two and UX Conversation Designer.

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