Most tenancy agreements require the tenant to pay for the maintenance of the rental property, and this can unfortunately add up to a pretty penny. Not only that, but most Singaporean landlords really don’t like to be bothered about small issues in the home (especially when they’re vacationing thanks to your rental income). So, in this article, we outline the common problems you might encounter when renting in Singapore, and several simple fixes to keep in mind, which can help you keep your sanity when it simply isn’t your lucky day.
Rental Property SOS #1: Burst water pipe
Burst water pipes are a huge pain to deal with. If you’ve got one of these on your hands, a quick fix is to wrap duct tape around the pipe. This will contain the situation for an hour or so, giving you enough time to call the plumber without going bankrupt on water bills (or turning your apartment into a flood disaster zone).
Cost: The DIY solution (duct tape!) will cost you $5-$10. Getting a plumber in to fix the pipe will cost you approximately $100 to $350.
Prevention method: Commercial drain cleaners might be effective in helping you remove clogs, but they actually contain a ton of chemicals that wear down your pipes. To reduce the likelihood of your pipes leaking or bursting, avoid introducing excessive grease and debris to them via your sinks and drains. Always use a plunger first it’s necessary to declog, before turning to drain cleaners.
Rental Property SOS #2: The air-con is not cold
Because we’re living in Singapore (the land of eternal summer!), air-conditioning is an absolute necessity.
What do you do when your air conditioner is leaking, or it’s not working properly? First, clean the air filters in your air conditioner. Next, check the condensate line (this is the pipe that water drains through), and use a vacuum to suck out any clogs that may be present. (Note that if you live in a high-rise property and the compressor unit is on a bracket or AC ledge, you must engage a professional to do this.)
Cost: If you’re staying at a ground-floor property, you can take the DIY route, which doesn’t cost a single cent. If you’re getting a professional in, you’ll have to pay for the diagnosis of your problem (companies tend to charge $40 – $50 for this), and an additional sum for maintenance and/or repair work. Some companies waive the diagnosis fee if you go ahead and engage them for the repair.
Prevention method: Replace your air filter every three months, and be sure not to cover any air vents of the air-con unit. Clean your condensate line every three months as well; don’t let any clog accumulate. Experts recommending pouring 150ml of vinegar down the line to kill any algae or fungi that’s present. That said, we recommended getting your air-conditioning cleaned by a professional every 3 months.
Rental Property SOS #3: Pest issues
Cockroaches, lizards, ants, mosquitoes… there are a ton of pests to contend with in tropical Singapore. If your rental unit is being invaded by these pests, head to the supermarket, where you’ll be able to find an array of sprays, repellants and traps. More serious pest issues (i.e. those involving termites) will require professional intervention asap before your furniture and fittings turn to dust.
Cost: If you’re purchasing an off-the-shelf solution, you’ll pay between $5 and $20. If you’re hiring a pest control company or exterminator, it’ll cost you $100 to $300 depending on the the pests you’re dealing with, and how severe the problem is.
Prevention method: Keep your rental unit clean; don’t leave food lying around, keep containers upside down when not in use and check your premises (in and around your home) regularly for any signs of uncleared trash or stagnant water. Within your rented property, seal up all the cracks in your walls and fix leaking taps so that pests don’t have any water sources. Condo management and town council also carry out pest control/extermination activities regularly (i.e. monthly), so keep as many windows closed at night to prevent any escaping cockroaches from entering your home.
Rental Property SOS #4: Serious damage to drywall/floor
Damage to walls: Say you banged up a wall while moving in your bulky sofa and now there’s a crack or hole in the drywall (also known as partition wall). Don’t worry, you don’t have to replace the entire wall. If it’s a crack, all you need to do is You’ll have to use a putty knife to apply joint compound to the damaged area, and then paint over the area. If it’s a hole and your wall is painted anything other than white, you’ll need to own up to your landlord as you won’t know what the matching paint colour is even if you could fix the hole (click for external link to hole-in-wall fixes).
Damage to floor: If you’ve cracked a tile, and it’s a small crack, you might be able to get away with mixing a small amount of paint that matches the colour of your tiles with a tile filler, and filling in the crack with this mixture. Again, be sure to let your landlord know you’re doing this. If it’s a large crack you’re dealing with, you’ll have to replace the entire tile; your landlord will probably want to step in and arrange it themselves.
Cost: A putty knife costs under $10, and you can get joint compound from $10 to $20. Tile filler also costs between $10 to $20. Head to your nearest DIY/hardware store to get these materials.
Prevention method: Before you move into your newly rented apartment, note which walls are drywalls. These are far more fragile than actual walls. You might also want to highlight any potential causes of concern/pre-empt any issues to your landlord, such as a hollow sounding tile.
Rental Property SOS #5: Noisy neighbours
Alas, you can fix objects, but you can’t really fix… people. Having noisy neighbours is almost like an intrusion into personal space, worse if it’s at night when you’re trying to get some sleep. If you’re not the sort to bang on your neighbour’s door to confront the ruckus, you can either wear earplugs, purchase soundproof curtains (if the sound is coming through the window), or cover your wall with bookcases (and fill them with books), which can act as a sound dampener.
Cost: Disposable earplugs that switches your world to silent mode costs as little as a few cents a pair (find your favourite brand and buy in bulk for greater savings), whereas soundproof curtains range from $15 to $60. For the bookcase solution, you can get a cheap bookcase from IKEA for $79.
Prevention method: This isn’t a surefire solution, but being friendly with your neighbours immediately upon moving in surely helps.
Not the DIY type? Too busy? If you’re paying your landlord to get someone to fix these issues, it’s still important to know how much the fixes for these common issues cost — so you won’t be overcharged by your landlord, or have your security deposit unfairly forfeited.
Know of any more common issues of a rental property? Share them with us in the comments section or on our Facebook community page.
If you found this article helpful, 99.co recommends 7 rental hidden costs: is that cheap rental unit too good to be true? and What type of renovations should landlords do before renting?
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