Written by: Benjienen Toledo
Living in a new place is very exciting; new things, places, and people you meet and adventures you get to experience. But, how do you get started?
Here are a few guidelines for renting a condo in Singapore for foreigners:
1. Search for a Condo for Rent on Property Listings Portal
You may choose to live near your workplace for convenience, or you may opt to rent in one of the condominiums at the Central Business Areas with nearby MRT stations, bus stops, shopping centres, hawkers, and grocery stores.
2. Check the Legitimacy of the Property Agent and Schedule Viewings
Estate Agents are granted licences by Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) and the salespersons of the estate agents are registered. They can perform estate agency work only if they have a valid licence or registration.
Check the CEA’s Public Register of Estate Agents and Salespersons so you may:
- Know whether a person is a registered salesperson
- Whether a real estate agent or salesperson has been disciplined by the Council within the last three years; and
- Know whether any awards have been conferred on a real estate agent or salesperson by the Council
After you have verified the property agent’s legitimacy, you may start sending an enquiry.
Upon enquiry, the property agent will ask you about your profile:
- Type of Work Pass
- How many are staying at the condo
- How are you related to the other tenants
- Move-in Date
Be honest about the number of occupants (if you are sharing the rental with a friend, spouse or family). Once you have shortlisted the condominium that suits your budget, move-in date and other preferences, schedule a viewing with the property agent.
3. Prepare your Tenancy Requirements
Here is the list of tenancy requirements that you must prepare:
- Photocopy/ Softcopy and Original Singapore Pass Card
- Photocopy/ Softcopy and Original Travel Document
- The budget for one-month advance Rental Fee, Security Deposit, Stamp Duty and one-month deposit
- Local contact number and e-mail so that the real estate agent and the landlord may contact you
4. Accomplish your Letter of Intent (LOI)
LOI is addressed to the landlord. It is where you’ll state your intentions to enter a tenancy agreement. Sending this letter will serve as a lead up to signing up the official and legal binding Tenancy Agreement (TA).
Furthermore, sending this to the landlord means that they would have to stop advertising the condominium unit for rent to someone else, meaning you can stop other would-be tenants to look into the property.
Important items in the LOI:
- Reservation Deposit – This is also known as a “good faith deposit.” This will ensure that your landlord stops looking for other tenants to rent the property. Later on, this deposit will become part of your advance rental fee for the first month or security deposit right after you signed the TA.
- Security Deposit – The standard deposit for a one-year lease is one month’s rent. When the term ends, you can get a refund without interest but the landlord has a right to deduct costs incurred from you breaching any of the covenants in the TA. Do note that the security deposit cannot be used to offset the last month rent should you choose not to renew the lease.
- Term of Lease – Usually, the rental period in Singapore is 1 or 2 years. Just make sure to state how long you plan to reside in the property. When the time comes for you to renew it, be sure to inform your landlord 2-3 months prior to your end date.
Take note that minimum tenancy period in Singapore is 6 months. Shorter than that is illegal.
- Requests and Requirements – Your LOI is the perfect opportunity for you to specify all your requests and requirements prior to renting the property.
This would include:
- Requesting for new appliances
- Replacing old furniture, like the sofa and the bed
Once the landlord signed your LOI, they will be bound to follow all the requests you mentioned in the letter.
There is also an optional clause that could be included by the landlord. This clause can only be added if the lease is for at least 2 years.
- Diplomatic Clause – This clause will enable you to terminate the tenancy agreement after 12 months by providing the landlord 2-month notice, in case of unwanted circumstances, such as unemployment or you’ll be moved to another country by your company.
Forward the LOI to the property agent. Then schedule another meeting with the owner/ landlord or with the agent only to finalise the TA.
5. Enter the Tenancy Agreement (TA)
Signing of TA
This agreement will be drafted and prepared for you by your property agent. All contents in your TA will be based on your LOI. Ensure to check every detail mentioned in the TA.
You will also need to pay the stamp duty within 14 days from the date of the TA. The stamp duty is a property tax paid by a tenant if they rent an entire property or part of a residential property. This is also payable again if you decide to renew or extend your lease in the future. Be ready with SingPass 2-step verification (2FA) to log in to e-Stamping Portal.
The next step is for you to do an inspection along with the landlord/ property agent to make sure everything is good condition. Record everything in the Inventory List which the property agent will prepare. You need to sign the inventory list with the with the landlord/ property agent.
Register for Singapore Power (SP) e-Services Account
You may now apply for SP utilities to be switched on or in the case when there was a previous occupier, request for change of ownership/ utilities account transfer. To be sure, check with your property agent or the landlord. There is a $500 deposit for the SP services which is billed to your account on the first month. This amount is refundable after the termination of your tenancy.
Once these are done, you may start home moving as early as 1 or 2 days before the commencement of your tenancy.
6. Issue the Payment and Handover
A friendly reminder is that never pay anything in advance because, in legitimate property agent transactions, you issue a check or create a fund transfer to the landlord’s bank account. Property agents are not allowed to accept cash payments. Learn more about CEA reminders for tenants.
After the handover, there is a one month warranty, this means that the landlord will bear all the costs for labour and materials required for repairs during this period. Thus, inspect all the details in the unit and report immediately to the property agent.
After 1 month, all repairs not exceeding $200 will be your responsibility. Anything more than $200 is subject to the landlord’s approval.
May this guide help you in having a smooth rental transaction in Singapore. Welcome to your new home away from home.