Guide to Renting a Condo in Singapore
In most areas of the world, renting is easy. You sign a form, put down some money, and take a key. But not here. In Singapore, the rental contract is often filled with legalese, is costly, and if not careful, may be the cause of many nightmares. With many finding it unaffordable (or unwise) to purchase a property and the price of housing continuing to rise up in the current market, renting is increasingly becoming a popular choice.
Renting your own place is a big commitment. However, if you find your dream room for rent in Singapore, it will be an extremely empowering one too! Condos for rent in Singapore could be advertised by a direct owner or a property agent, but either way, you can still undergo the tenant renting process without engaging a professional. If you’re unsure whether to buy a property or rent among the Singapore apartments, read this article first.
Rental Conditions in Singapore
There are many types of accommodation or properties for rent in Singapore. Apartment rental (Singapore) comes as unfurnished, partially furnished, or fully furnished.
This means the house, apartment, room, or unit comes with a complete set of furniture, white goods (e.g. washing machine, refrigerator), and appliances (e.g. microwave, television, oven).
This means the apartment or house comes with the essential lights, white goods, and curtains, but no or little furniture.
This means the house is renovated but empty, probably only with fitted lights. Of course, the tenant can always request for the landlord to add items–these can be incorporated into the rent and can before the tenant sign the tenancy agreement.
Naturally, fully furnished rooms and units will cost more than unfurnished properties.
Other types of properties include HDB flats (where you can rent the entire unit or 1-3 bedroom), condominiums, and landed property (landed property can vary and can be split into 3 types: terrace houses, semi-detached houses, detached houses)
Steps to Take Before Renting a Condo
Whether it’s public housing or private property, spend some time finding out what type of property you think you might want and what areas you are interested in living in.
Do you want a more outdoors, active neighbourhood like the East Coast, or would you prefer the bustling life in Orchard, or at Central Business District perhaps? Do you want a place where you can easily visit other families, or is proximity to an MRT station important for you? Write down a shortlist of the things that matter to you–it will help you a lot when you begin viewings.
If you’re planning to rent a condo in Singapore, consider the condo facilities. Do you prefer a 24/7 condo gym or with play areas for children? Take note that, in general, renting condominiums costs more than renting an HDB flat. Think about the facilities you will use frequently, your workplace, and transportation options.
Also, learn how much rent you are paying as compared to other tenants, so you’re aware that you’re not being overcharged. Tons of factors affect what you can expect to pay per month, like the age of the condominium, proximity to an MRT, and location. Several companies offer housing allowances to expats who need to relocate for their work.
Thus, you may find your housing costs are covered by your company. Then again, budget is a significant part of renting so you need to decide on your budget. When you plan your finances, it will allow you to focus your search on rental condos that fit your budget and needs.
Find an Agent
One of the most paramount parts of looking for a condominium for rent is finding a great property agent to represent you. As your representative, your agent will work to get you the best deal.
While it can seem enticing to use the landlords’ agent or just represent yourself, there are many advantages to having your own agent, not least negotiating your monthly rental and scheduling all the apartment for rent Singapore viewings.
Fortunately, renting in Singapore is a real haggle-fest. Rental prices are always negotiable and immutable. Plus, the Singapore property rental market is almost entirely serving foreigners.
Once you have got your reliable real estate agent on board, they can now initiate scheduling viewings for you. They can coordinate with the different owner’s agents and get appointments arranged at times that fit you.
It is not rare when you first arrive to commit two or three days just to look around apartments. This way you get to view lots of apartments in quick succession. Be sure to take notes and photos about each place, to show to your family or partner or to jog your memory later.
When you contact the agent or landlord to arrange a viewing, some of the common questions you’ll be asked include:
- Your personal particulars (age, nationality, occupation, etc)
- Why you’re planning to move
- Your intended lease period and rental start date ( note that the legal minimum rental period is three months).
Once you are in the apartment, try imagining yourself living there. Take your time to observe and raise any concerns to the agent or landlord.
Hopefully, if you are renting a condo room, this is also your opportunity to meet the people you could likely be living with.
A tip: A number of landlords in Singapore purchase a condo unit to rent out individual rooms. In this case, there might be new tenants moving in and fellow tenants moving out over the period of your lease, and you need to be comfortable with that.
Otherwise, try seeking listings where it is a live-in landlord renting out just one spare room. This way you know for certain who you will be living with. At this point, you can negotiate the rental price as well. It is worth a try, even though it is already within your budget.
Draft a Letter of Intent (LOI)
Once you are sure of your new resting place, it is time to chope the area by drafting a Letter of Intent (LOI), a document that states a tenant’s interest in renting. Make sure to include all terms and conditions discussed in the LOI, particularly if you have negotiated for any extra stuff, such as whether guests are allowed or additional furniture to be provided.
Validate the LOI with a Good Faith Deposit, often a month’s worth of rent. This sum can be used as a security deposit or as your first month’s rental once everything is legit done-deal. The Good Faith Deposit will act as a kind of reservation fee which mean your landlord should not be offering their apartment for rent to anyone else.
Bear in mind, if you have the intention to back out before signing the official Tenancy Agreement, your landlord will be entitled to keep the deposit, so ensure you have pondered it carefully.
Prepare Your Requirements
Here is the list of tenancy requirements that your agent or you must prepare:
- Softcopy/Photocopy and original travel document
- Softcopy/Photocopy and original Singapore Pass Card
- Security deposit, one-month advance rental fee, and stamp duty
- Email and local contact number so that the landlord and the real estate agent can reach you.
Sign the Tenancy Agreement
The Tenancy Agreement (TA) will be drawn up once all the details are agreed upon. Make sure you closely go through it and ask anything that doesn’t seem right to you or you don’t understand. The TA should include details of what monies need to be paid and when, everyone’s contact details, details of termination clauses, duration of the tenancy, and who is responsible for what maintenance costs.
You will be possibly be asked for either your Employment Pass (EP) or a copy of your passport details. The TA will be signed by you, your representing agents, and of course, the landlord.
Pay the Necessary Fees
You will need to pay Stamp Duty. This is nearly equivalent to 0.4% of the total rental amount ( i.e. the number of months x monthly rental). Before transferring it to IRAS ( the tax authority in Singapore), your agent will collect the payment. This is required for all rental contracts in the country.
At the same time as you sign the TA, you will be required to pay the first month’s rent and damage deposit upfront. Generally, the security deposit is worth one month’s pay for lease every year. A standard security deposit for a 2-year lease is often equivalent to 2 months’ rent, so it is often a reasonably large sum of money. Singapore can be a bit traditional at times, and you will usually have to pay this payment by cheque.
To protect your damage deposit, it is recommended to draw up a detailed state of condition report–note down any defects and take lots of photos that exist when you move in. There is no independent body that can settle deposit disputes. Therefore, no matter how nice the landlord might seem, it is vital to ensure you are protected.
For precaution, ask for an inventory record of the contents of the condo prior to key handover, which has been signed and vetted by you. Note the condition of existing items and furniture to avoid the risk of forfeiting your security deposit at the end of your lease.
Before taking over the property, you are advised to take photos or a video of the property. To apply for a change of ownership to the utility account, you would also need to register for a Singapore Power (SP) e-Services. After accomplishing the administrative process, you can begin moving into your new home.
Move Into the Unit
Upon receiving the keys to your rental unit, look through the inventory list, and inspect that all the items are in working condition. From the move-in date, there will be a one-month warranty period.
Make sure to inform the agent or landlord of any defects or faulty items found during a home viewing. Depending on what is stated in the Tenancy Agreement, the tenant has to be liable for repairs at SG$150 or SG$200 per item after the warranty period ends. Exceeding the amount, the landlord will cover the rest.
It is also a good practice to perform a Home Condition Report and get the landlord to acknowledge it to avoid any possible disputes when it comes to the end of your lease.
When hunting for a condo for rent in Singapore, these are the proper steps to go about. Never go for the shortcut–sign and grab the keys. Doing that can result in a profusion of disagreements and arguments later on. For your own sake, do it the slow way.
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