Here’s the thing about Singaporean landlords: even when they’ve clearly bought a property for investment and rental yield, they tend to remain possessive and nit-picky over their cash cow. So, it’s not just the tenants who are doing the choosing; landlords, too, can get really picky when they screen tenants. If you’ve made an enquiry on a listing or expressed your interest after viewing a unit, only to be told discreetly afterwards that it’s “taken up already”, there might be a chance that you’ve been rejected by a landlord based on your profile. If this happens to you on more than one occasion, you need to know why landlords are saying no to you. If you’re renting in Singapore, these five factors that may be hurting your chances.
Reason #1: You don’t have a stable source of income
This one’s pretty obvious. If you’re a freelancer that works on ad-hoc projects and you don’t have a typical 9 to 5 job that gives you a monthly salary, this might count as a strike against you. The fear is that tenant’s of this profile are more likely to default on their rent, which would seriously affect the Singaporean landlord’s plan to go on a vacation every two months…
How do you work around the fact that you’re a freelancer? It’s all about how you frame the situation. Instead of telling your landlord you’re a freelancer, tell them that you’re working on a project with Company XYZ, and then segue to the work you’re doing (i.e. bore them with the unimportant details). If you’ve worked with reputable brands, mention their name as well so that your landlord knows you’re legit. The key to renting in Singapore is not to reveal too much information, but not to appear that you’re hiding something/being evasive.
Reason #2: You have pets
Unfortunately, having pets is something that plenty of landlords in Singapore frown upon, partly due to worries about cleanliness or allergies, as well as pet restrictions if you’re renting a HDB flat. The chief reason is that your landlord doesn’t want your cat scratching up your furniture or your dog leaving saliva and urine stains everywhere.
To help your case, you can ask your previous landlord to vouch for you. Having your previous landlord talk about how responsible you are about cleaning up after your pets (and how well-trained your pets are!) can go a long way in making your potential landlord more agreeable to letting you keep pets. If vouching isn’t possible, or doesn’t work, consider viewing the property with your pet, so you can show off how well trained and behaved your pet is and perhaps even score brownie points with fluffy cuteness!
To safeguard yourself, make sure the permission to keep pets (usually specific to your current pet) is written up in the contract, lest the landlord changes his/her mind. To sweeten the deal for your landlord, the agent can also include a clause that stipulates that you’ll pay for any damages your pet might cause to the property (in the unlikely situation that this does happen). Something like this:
- The landlord is allowed to keep one pet dog on the premises
- The tenant is liable to compensate the landlord for any damages caused by the tenant’s pet on the premises
Reason #3: You look like a party animal
It might sound like discrimination, but landlords want renters of a certain mould or look: neat, tidy, and stays clear of trouble. They don’t like renters who look like they’ll throw huge parties or have friends over 24/7.
Bearing this in mind, refrain from oversharing. Your prospective landlord doesn’t need to know about the wild night out that you had with your best pals, or about that time you got hired despite sitting through your interview with a raging hangover. You might also stay away from questions such as “Can my friends come over and use the pool?” and comments such as “Great, the sofa is big enough for me and my friends”, unless of course you want to be told that the unit/room is “taken up already” once you offer to put the deposit.
Reason #4: You bring children to the viewing, and they misbehave
This applies to tenants who are renting as a family. Say you bring your children to a viewing, and they start tearing through the house, climbing the furniture and, before you leave, they cap it off with a shouting match. Will this leave a good impression on your landlord? Obviously not. Not only would they fear damage to their property, they’re also scared you’d ruin their reputation as owners of the property — because neighbours do talk among themselves and complain to management or the town council.
As a general rule of thumb, we recommend not bringing your kids to property viewings. If you must, at least make sure they’re well-behaved. The “kids being kids” excuse just doesn’t work for landlords when renting in Singapore.
[Recommended article: Renting a home as a parent with kids: What to look out for]
Reason #5: You work from home
Maybe you’re a self-employed, or you’re #blessed enough to have a job that allows you to work from home. To you, this means endless freedom and flexibility. To your landlord, this means expensive utilities bills.
If the topic comes up, be sure to clarify what “working from home” means exactly. Do you stay at home 3 days per week, and spend the remaining 2 days consulting with your clients at their offices? Do you have the flexibility to stay at home, but end up going to your office (for meetings and other events) anyway? Make sure you set the record straight, and mention stuff like “I prefer using the fan to the air-con in the day” or “I travel frequently” to increase your chances, because you do, right?
Know of any other reasons landlords reject tenants? Share them with us in the comments section or on our Facebook community page.
If you found this article helpful, 99.co recommends Tenant and Landlord Dispute: What to do? and 7 types of landlords every tenant will encounter in Singapore.
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