By Joanne Poh
Whether you are a foreigner coming to Singapore for work or studies or a local who wants to move out of your parents’ home without buying property, renting a home is fairly easy here.
What properties are you allowed to rent?
The main types of residential property you can rent are HDB flats, private condominiums and landed homes. HDB flats are considered government housing, thus there are more rules as to what you and/or your landlord can and cannot do. Most other types of housing are categorised as private.
Rental eligibility and regulations in Singapore
So long as you are legally allowed to reside in Singapore, there is nothing stopping you from renting property here.
The main rules you need to be careful of are those governing the minimum length of leases. Short-term private property rentals of less than 3 months and HDB rentals of less than 6 months are illegal. There are some folks who rent out condos to tourists on the sly on Airbnb, but be aware that what they are doing is illegal.
For HDB renters, there are also rules regarding your lease period. Singaporean and Malaysian citizens can rent HDB flats for up to three years. Meanwhile, the maximum lease period for rental of HDB flats by non-Malaysian foreigners is two years. Of course, once your lease expires, it can be extended if both you and your landlord can come to an agreement.
What can you expect to pay per month for a rental property?
Other than property type and size, rent varies dramatically depending on location. Private property is typically significantly more expensive than HDB property of the same type and size, but also comes with 24-hour security and facilities such as a swimming pool or gym.
Property in districts in the CBD and on the city fringe tend to be quite costly to rent. For instance, a studio apartment in the Orchard area can easily cost $5,000 a month.
If you are on a budget, you are better off looking for property in suburban locations, with areas further away from the city fringe tending to cost less as a general rule. For instance, you can rent a bedroom in a shared HDB flat in Yishun for about $700.
Search for properties
Searching for a property to rent is easy. Browse rental listings on PropertyGuru, using the filters to narrow down your search according to budget, location and project type.
Not sure where you’d like to live? Check out the AreaInsider write-ups on your area of choice to find out more about Singapore’s various residential areas.
Find an agent
Engaging a property agent to assist in your search for rental property can save you from a lot of hassle.
The agent can compile a list of properties that meet your requirements, if you have not already down so, and then set up appointments for you. Many agents will even personally escort you to these appointments in their vehicle.
Browse PropertyGuru’s list of preferred agents to find one who is best able to serve you.
It is a good idea to view as many properties as you can over the course of a few days, bringing along a family member or friend for a second opinion if possible.
Other than the property itself and amenities, you will also want to take note of the transport options in the vicinity and how much time it would take you to get to work or elsewhere.
Negotiate on the rent
Once you have found a place you like, it is time to come to an agreement with the landlord as to your rent. Many landlords expect would-be tenants to negotiate and so indicate a higher rent than they are willing to accept.
You should also confirm ahead of time what is and is not included in the rent. Ask whether your electricity bills, water bills, internet bills, phone line and cleaning services are included in the rent. You also want to be clear as to who is responsible for paying for what types of maintenance or repairs of the property such as servicing of the air conditioning units.
Also check if your landlord has any rules before committing, especially if you will be living with him or her. Some landlords do not allow their tenants to cook or use the living room when they live in the same property. Once you are sure about what you are getting, you will be in a better position to negotiate your rent.
Sign the tenancy agreement
Once you and the landlord have agreed on a price, it is time to sign the tenancy agreement, typically drawn up by the landlord. Make sure you go through the entire contract and ensure that you are fine with it and that it accurately reflects what the landlord has promised you.
If there are any points you are concerned about, it is better to get the landlord to include them in the contract.
Pay the security deposit
As stipulated in the contract, you will be required to pay a security deposit before moving in, part or all of which might be withheld when you move out if the landlord is not satisfied with the condition of the property or if there are any repairs that need to be paid for.
A typical security deposit for a year-long contract is one months’ rent.
Take photos and make a list of defects
Before you move in, inspect the property thoroughly and take photos of any defects that you can find. You should do this so that the landlord cannot later withhold your security deposit by claiming that you caused those defects. To be safe, email your landlord with a list of defects accompanied by photos and descriptions before you move in.
Move into your new home
Now that the lease is signed and your deposit paid, it is time to move into your new home!
Check out PropertyGuru’s properties for rent! Alternately, refer to our other handy rental guides, or read more about the hottest areas to live in with PropertyGuru’s AreaInsider