To rent a place in Singapore can be very hard. The purpose of this Rental Guide is to serve as a broad source of knowledge for everything a tenant needs to know when deciding to rent a place in Singapore, be it a condo, and apartment, an HDB, a whole unit or just a room.
It is our aim to make this guide as comprehensive as possible, so that whatever difficulties you may run into during the house-hunting journey, you will have something to fall back on.
The guide encompassses a vast number of sub-guides, each of which serve both their individual purpose and a collective one in that when taken together, they form a wholesome chronology of the house-hunting journey from the moment you start looking on the internet to that time, in the near-distant future where you will have settled into your new home. It is our genuine and most humble aim then to assembly a series of guides of which the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts.
The guides below are assembled in a chronological order and can most easily be viewed as such. Still, depending on where you find yourself on the Rental Timeline, you can skip ahead, jump back or find a sequence that works best for you.
We from team 99.co wish you happy house-hunting, and that you may quickly find a new home you’ll love!
Singapore Rental Guide Unraveled
7. Stamp Duty
II. Agent Commission
III. Inspection Checklist
The Rental Timeline
In our experience you should start looking for your next home about two months prior to your intended move-in date. A house-hunt is unpredictable and you will occasionally find time-consuming hurdles in your path. Especially, when your preferences or requirements are relatively stringent, a two-month time period is advised.
Are you an expatriate, or simply new to Singapore? Give it a bit more time and start two to three months in advance. That way you can comfortably do a neighbourhood search, and see what different places in Singapore have to offer, and which best fit your lifestyle.
Week 1: Getting Started
Whether you are spreading your wings, and for the first time leaving the parent’s nest or are simply new to Singapore, it will be well worth doing some reading-up before you jump into the jungle that is the Singaporean rental market. Our suggested reading list goes something like this: a General Guide to Housing Types in Singapore, the Singapore Property Guide for Foreigners, the To-Agent-Or-Not-To-Agent Guide, the Agent Commission Guide, and our Neighbourhood Guides. After having familiarised yourself with the Singaporean real estate market, it is a good idea to formulate your requirements and expectations. This way, you can carve out a small area in the vast market where you shall embark on your house-hunt, and eventually find a new home you’ll love.
Week 2 -3: The Search
If all has gone well you will by now have got your ducks in a row, and you have a fairly good idea of what you are looking for. Time to go on 99.co, filter your search into your specific needs, wants and demands (location, distance to mrt, fully furnished, aircon, price range etc.), and make a shortlist of potential next homes. Got your shortlist ready? send out a torrent of text inquiries, and with a little bit of patience landlords and agents will now be falling over each other to arrange a viewing with you. Score 🙂
While 99.co has been designed to be self-explanatory, we know that we cannot succeed all the time. In light of our potential failures then, we have created a search guide, aimed to help you along and improve your search experience.
Week 2-4: Viewing
While pictures may say a thousand words they do not tell you whether you have found your next home or not – your guts do. So, after you have scheduled screenings, go see the places you had previously shortlisted and have it all sink in. Take your time, seize the place up and ask the landlord or agent every and all questions you have about the place. And above all, ask yourself whether you’ll see yourself living here. Seeing the gravity of the decision at hand it is important to come prepared and think of all the right questions to ask. While every tenant will have different priorities and concerns, we have designed a separate viewing guide which provides a detailed overview of all considerations that may prove useful when setting out to view a room. Additionally, there is a standard viewing checklist which comprises a handy list of things to look out for during a viewing.
Week 5: Negotiating and Offering
After you have separated the wheat from the chaff, and picked your prospective next home, it is time to negotiate the terms of the deal. As a rule of thumb, to rent in Singapore is a true haggle-fest; rental prices are always negotiable and nothing is set in stone. World-class salesmen and top-notch negotiators, this is your chance to shine. For everybody else, we have crafted a step-by-step negotiation guide, that will teach you the basic tricks of the game and hopefully tick off a hundred-some dollars from your monthly bill.
By now you should have negotiated the general terms of a deal with the landlord or the representative agent. Subsequently, you have to formalise the deal and move towards a contract. Procedurally, the common way forward is to write up a letter of intent (LOI) and send the landlord a good faith deposit to secure your future home. Not sure what a LOI is, what it should entail or how to draft one? Check out our separate, Letter of Intent guide. Similarly, if you are not familiar with the procedure go on and take a look at our good faith deposit vs Security deposit guide.
Week 6: Signing
Sealing the Deal
Next, the landlord will prepare a tenancy agreement. This is the official lease contract and signing it is the deal-sealer that marks the end of your house-hunt. Special attention should be given to the Tenancy Agreement. If there are any clauses, caveats or arrangements you and the landlord are making it should be in there. We stress that the Tenancy Agreement is important and if you ever get into a dispute with your landlord this is your go-to paper to back you up, so make sure it is solid. For a more elaborate account and free template see our Tenancy Agreement guide.
At this point you should also transfer a security deposit. The security deposit is generally worth one month’s pay for every years lease, and serves as an insurance fund for the landlord in the case you as a tenant damage the property.
Did you also know, aside from normal payment methods like cheque, you can pay for the security deposit with your credit card via CardUp.co. This is especially beneficial if you do not have a large amount of cash on hand, or have not set up a local bank account yet.
The Last Mile
There are some final matters to be taken care of. If you chose to hire an agent you may have to pay a commision. To know if this applies to you, take a look at our to-agent-or-not-to-agent guide. Also, if you are renting out a flat wholly, a stamp duty will be levied on your documents. You can view the details in our rental stamp duty guide.
Week 6-7: Moving
At this point the formalities have been settled, the tenancy agreement has been signed, the security deposit has been transfered, the first month’s rent has been paid and keys have changed hands. As you move into your new place, it is important to commit it to a thorough checkup to make sure everything is sorted out as stipulated in the tenancy agreement. While not common, there are cases where tenants have been duped. As they move into their new place, it suddenly seems more spacious, and half the furniture that was there during the viewing has gone missing.
To guard against any misdoings we advise you to perform both an inspection and an inventory check. You can download two basic templates here, and here. The inventory checklist is part of the Tenancy Agreement and should be provided by the landlord. The template is to be seen as a framework in which you can incorporate the inventory list, specific to your prospective apartment.
Week 8: Settling in
Almost done! In most cases the landlord will provide for the utilities (makes sure this is stipulated in the Tenancy Agreement if you opt for it) If however, you have agreed to do it yourself, you will have to get your utilities sorted out. Simply browse the Utilities Guide to see how one can open a public utilities account for gas, electricity and water supply.
Aaaand ~ Home Sweet Home
Week 9 – infinity: One last teeny tiny thing
Tenant – Landlord disputes
We have also created a tenancy dispute guide which specifically deals with disputes between tenants and landlords. We hope you will never have to get to use this guide, yet if somewhere down the road you find yourself in this particular storm after all, we thought it be useful to know your options and channels of operation. So, take by hand your Tenancy Agreement and let’s get through this.
Check out other rental related articles here: Property agent commission in Singapore: How much should I pay? and Negotiate your lease with ease: What you should do when your landlord raises your rent and
Find the rental home of your dreams today at Singapore’s largest property portal 99.co!