Guide to Rental in Singapore: 5 Most Common Questions Asked by Tenants and Landlords

PropertyGuru Editorial Team
Guide to Rental in Singapore: 5 Most Common Questions Asked by Tenants and Landlords
When getting a rental in Singapore, know what you’re signing up for. Knowledge is power, an adage that certainly applies to the Singapore rental market. Those familiar with the rules continue to earn from their properties without running afoul of the law. At the same time, newbie tenants and uninitiated landlords face greater risks of getting evicted, losing lots of money, or even landing in jail.
To ensure you don’t encounter such problems, we compiled a list of tips, essential information, and the latest rental regulations governing the Singapore rental property market. If you’re familiar with the rental market and are a tenant looking for your next place, let us help you find your next home.

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1. Can a Landlord Enter Your Room Without Approval?

In Singapore, the landlord has the legal right to access any part of his property, including a room that has been rented out. But among the most common complaints of tenants here is when the owner does this without their consent or when their room gets checked while they’re away.
As such, it is paramount to have a worded leasing contract that covers such situations. So even if the Singapore rental rules are advantageous to the landlord, he will suffer consequences if the tenancy agreement prohibits him from unjustly intruding into the lessee’s room.
Below are some provisions would-be occupants can incorporate into their tenancy contract to secure their tenant rights and prevent such situations.

How to Secure Your Tenant Rights in Your Tenancy Agreement

Obligate the landlord to get written permissionIf the landlord wants to enter, he/she needs to get written permission from the tenant.
Inform the tenant before entering the tenant’s roomHave a clause in the Tenancy Agreement that the landlord has to provide the tenant with a notice period of one day or more before entering.
Specify cases where a property owner can enter the tenant’s roomList the typical scenarios where the landlord can ask for permission to enter the property with written permission (e.g. doing minor repairs, showing room to potential tenants, etc.)
Set penalties for illegal entry into tenant’s room without permissionSpecify the penalties that will take place if the landlord violates your tenant rights. For example, if the landlord enters your room without your knowledge and permission, you can scrap the rental contract immediately or after a few months’ notice. Remember to clearly state in the rental contract that your security deposit needs to be refunded if this happens.
Add exception clauses of when a landlord can enter the tenant’s roomThere might be some emergency cases where the landlord can enter without permission. These exceptions should be included in the Tenancy Agreement.

2. Landlord or Master Tenant: Do You Know Who You’re Signing a Rental Contract With?

Before committing to lease a room, always make sure that the person you are transacting with is the actual owner of the property or a person authorised by the landlord and not a master tenant. So don’t sign a contract for a rental in Singapore without confirming this.
This is because master tenants are not permitted to sublet their room(s) unless explicitly permitted by the owner. Even if you’re dealing with a master tenant who has been authorised to do so, ensure that your name is included in the official rental agreement and have the landlord acknowledge this.
If not, you may be served an eviction notice by the landlord (should they realise you’re living there illegally), and you’ll have no choice but to vacate the premises. You will probably not be able to get your deposit for your rental in Singapore back.
Hence, always confirm who you’re transacting with and do your homework. Ask the landlord to log into their HDB account if they’re renting public housing, or have them access the Singapore Land Authority to verify the properties owned by that person.

3. What Is the Maximum Number of Occupants Allowed in HDB Flats and Private Condos?

Private property (less than 90sqm)6
Private property (90sqm and above)8
One-room and two-room HDB flats4
Three-room HDB flats6
Four-room or larger HDB flats8
Between 22 January 2024 and 31 December 2026, the rental occupancy cap will temporarily increase to meet rental demand. The maximum number of permissible tenants allowed for private housing is up to eight unrelated individuals if the rental property is 90sqm or larger.
Caregivers and domestic helpers are treated as belonging to one family. Hence, if a five-member family living in a two-room HDB flat has hired a caregiver and domestic worker, they will be exempt from the occupancy cap for private housing.
On the other hand, if a family of four wants to rent part of a private condo that is less than 90sqm, they can only accommodate two additional persons. The same goes if you’re a master tenant and the landlord has allowed you to sublet a room. Also, please know that you are prohibited from creating additional bedrooms by installing partitions or dividers for Singapore rental properties. If you attend a viewing and the premises shown to you come with room dividers, beware.

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For HDB properties, the number of non-related tenants in three-room or larger HDB flats must also not surpass eight persons, while the limit for three-room flats is six persons. For two-room or smaller flats, the limit is four occupants.
While those who lease bedrooms must comply with the lower limit, a family with over six members can still rent an entire HDB flat. This Singapore rental rule also covers the living quarters of HDB commercial properties being leased out.

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4. What Is the Minimum and Maximum Rental Duration for HDB Flats and Private Properties?

Private homeMinimum: 3 months; No maximum
HDB flatMinimum: 6 months; Maximum: Two to three years
On 30 June 2017, the URA reduced the minimum rental period for private homes from six consecutive months to three straight months. This means offering lodging for a shorter rental period is strictly prohibited unless the URA explicitly approves it.
Aside from locals, these private properties can only be rented out to PRs or expatriates with passes like Long-term Social Visit Passes and Student Passes. That means that private properties should not be rented out to tourists for short-term stays. The penalty for illegally subletting and flouting the law is a maximum of $200,000 fine for each charge and/or up to 12 months of jail time.
In comparison, the HDB only permits a tenancy of at least six months. The maximum stay duration is two years for non-Malaysian non-citizen residents (i.e. Singapore Permanent Residents and foreigners) and three years for Singaporeans and Malaysians. If the landlord wants to renew the tenancy, he needs to apply for permission again from HDB.
HDB flat owners found guilty of unauthorised rentals and surpassing the cap on the number of occupants will face fines or even lose their homes in case of severe violations. Take it from this HDB owner who lost his 5-room flat after illegally renting it.

5. Are Tenants Allowed to Have Guests?

Tenants can have guests and overnight guests, subject to their landlord agreements. Before renting in Singapore, it’s best to check with your landlords, especially if you live with them.
Regarding overnight guests, it’s one thing to have guests visit and temporarily crash on the couch for a weekend and another to have a visitor live in the place for an extended period (i.e. more than two weeks).
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Disclaimer: The information is provided for general information only. PropertyGuru Pte Ltd makes no representations or warranties in relation to the information, including but not limited to any representation or warranty as to the fitness for any particular purpose of the information to the fullest extent permitted by law. While every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this article is accurate, reliable, and complete as of the time of writing, the information provided in this article should not be relied upon to make any financial, investment, real estate or legal decisions. Additionally, the information should not substitute advice from a trained professional who can take into account your personal facts and circumstances, and we accept no liability if you use the information to form decisions.

More FAQs About Rental in Singapore

Depending on where you rent and how big your rental unit is, costs vary. You can look up available rental listings on PropertyGuru to get an understanding of the asking prices.

All signs point towards a cooling rental market in 2024 as supply is restored and more homes are being built.

Areas further away from the city centre are generally the most affordable to rent in Singapore.