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Rental Process and Budget for Foreign Tenants in Singapore


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Written by: Rita Magallona

Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) recorded an influx of 1.4 million foreign talents in 2019. If you are planning to join this group and become an expatriate professional, finding rental housing is probably on top of your to-do list.

Be it searching property for rent in Orchard, River Valley or Holland Village, you need to explore how much you need during your financial planning.

How much should a foreigner budget for rental housing in Singapore?

1. Monthly rental price

To get an idea of the monthly rental, check the HDB and URA websites for recent flats and condominium rental contracts. For even more up-to-date information, look at the prices on the Ohmyhome platform.

2. “Good faith” deposit

The “good faith” deposit or booking deposit is one month regardless of tenancy duration. This is returned to the tenant if the landlord decides not to rent the property or they both can’t agree to the terms in the Tenancy Agreement (TA). However, if the tenant backs out of the agreement, the good faith deposit goes to the landlord.

3. Tenancy stamp duty

This stamp duty is 0.4% of the total rent for the period of the lease. The amount of the tenancy stamp duty will vary depending on whether you are just renting a room or the entire flat.

4. Other expenses

Make sure you have extra funds for moving fees, new furniture, and minor improvements to the unit.

What is the process for finding a home rental in Singapore?

1. Identify your housing needs

Before you go on a house hunt, you have to know what you’re looking for. Here are some key things to consider:

  • Where is your office?
  • Where would you want to live?
  • Are you planning to use public transportation or drive a car?
  • How easy is it to get public transportation?
  • Do you prefer convenience or peace and quiet?
  • Would you like to live on a lower or higher floor?
  • Do you have kids?
  • Are you a pet owner?
  • Do you need a room, an entire apartment, or a standalone house?

Once you have a clear idea of your preferences, check the listings of flats for rent on Ohmyhome. It would be good if you have a first, second, and third choice.

2. Check your eligibility

If you plan to rent a Housing & Development Board (HDB ) flat, check if you meet the Non-Citizen Quota. Also, make sure that the number of occupants meet the occupancy cap on residential property.

Note that if your Singapore-based employer plans to rent the property for you, they will need to register your rental address with the MOM.

3. Secure 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 foreign passport
  • Local contact number and email so that the real estate agent and the landlord can contact you


4. Contact the landlord

The Ohmyhome app has a chat feature that lets you contact your prospective landlord directly. If there’s a scheduled open house, you can view the unit and meet the landlord or their property agent in person.

Learn more about the flat and the neighbourhood around it. You may want to ask these questions about it:

  • When is the rental fee due?
  • How much is the usual PUB bill every month?
  • Are furnishings appliances provided?
  • Can you redecorate the unit?
  • Is heavy cooking allowed?
  • Where is the nearest hawker centre?
  • Is there an agent fee?

5. View the property

When you go to view the flat, have someone with you as security and witness to everything that transpires. When you get there, check for these things before saying yes.

  • Signs of water leakage – Check for water stains or dampness in the ceiling or walls.
  • Paint stains or graffiti on the main door or gate – These might be signs of potential trouble with loan shark.
  • Age of renovation – If it’s been more than seven years since the last renovation, you might need to do major maintenance work in the near future.
  • Age of the electrical system – If the flat is more than 20 years old, faulty wiring issues might surface if the electricals had not had a maintenance check in a while.
  • Potential neighbour issues – Ask the landlord about how the neighbours are. Or better yet, ask the residents themselves about the community.
  • Number of times the home was rented out – The less frequently tenants change, the better. This shows that the former tenants liked staying there and had a good relationship with the landlord.

Don’t hesitate to ask any questions that come to mind.

6. Close the deal with an LOI

If you like what you see, it’s time to talk to the landlord and negotiate the price. Once you have come to an agreement, you need to send the good deposit and a Letter of Intent (LOI) to secure the flat.

The LOI is an early draft of the TA which includes:

  • Offer price that you agreed on
  • Start and end date of the lease
  • Particulars of landlord and tenant/s
  • Number of occupants
  • Terms that the tenant wants to include in TA such as requests for new beds, refrigerator, or other furniture, that you also previously agreed on.

Important: Before you sign or pay anything, make sure that the landlord is the official owner of the property. The landlord can log in to the HDB or Singapore Land Authority portal to show you their account and property contract as proof.

7. Conclude the rental process

Once you’ve made your decision, inform the landlord so you both can sign the TA. Before signing, make sure that there is a diplomatic clause in the TA that allows you, after about 12 months of tenancy, to terminate your tenancy even before the expiry. This gives you protection in case your employer is permanently transferring you out of Singapore or you are otherwise ordered to leave.

After signing, pay the required deposits, and Stamp Duty payments online, then set a move-in date.

8. Move in, but stay observant

When moving in, go through the inventory list that the landlord prepared to make sure everything is working and in good condition.

Remember, there is a one-month problem-free period where you can report any damage or defect (not caused by you) in the flat to the landlord. He will then make repairs or replacements at no cost to you. After this period, you will be responsible for any repairs and replacements that are needed.

Ready to make the leap and move to Singapore, the Lion City? Why not let Ohmyhome take care of home finding with our Destination Services?
We analyse your needs, select possible residences that fit your budget, and help you negotiate the lease.

Download Ohmyhome from the Play Store or App Store now.

Call 6886 9009 and set an appointment today!

While the Information is considered to be true and correct at the date of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of the Information. The Information may change without notice and Ohmyhome is not in any way liable for the accuracy of any information printed and stored or in any way interpreted and used by a user.

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