Property Jargon

A guide to useful words, terms and phrases relating to buying or renting a house or apartment in Singapore...

Specific terminology and phrases are used in classified advertisements for Singaporean property to rent or buy. Certain terms are also used when drafting a lease agreement to rent an apartment or house in Singapore.

Find out what these mean with a jargon guide to:

Property Rental Contracts

Letter of Intent (LOI)
This is the written offer made to the landlord by the tenant outlining the terms of the proposed Tenancy.

That is:

  • rent
  • duration
  • commencement date
  • works required and other factors

It is important at this point for the tenant to request everything they want the landlord to provide or pay for such as hot water in all bathrooms and kitchen, variable temperature washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, oven, pest control, air-conditioning maintenance, garden and pool maintenance. Once this letter is signed by both parties, it is very rare the landlord will agree to provide anything additional.

On acceptance by both parties, a one month good faith deposit is payable.

Tenancy Agreement/Lease
A tenancy or lease is a legal contract between the landlord and the tenant. This document is drawn up after the terms outlined in the Letter of Intent have been agreed and accepted by both parties.

Landlords have a strong preference for residential Tenancy Agreements to be in the name of the employee's company rather than a personal lease. Some landlords refuse to accept personal leases and, those that do, often require more than the normal two to three months security deposit.

Proof of Immigration Status In Singapore, the landlord is held personally responsible for any people living in their property that do not have legal residential status. Therefore, prior to the commencement of the lease, the tenant is required to supply to the landlord with the following:
  • Registration of Company Certificate (in the case of a corporate lease)
  • Confirmation of Employment Letter (in the case of a personal lease)
  • Copy of Passport for all occupants
  • Copy of Employment/Dependent/Student passes for all occupants.
Partly Furnished/Fully Furnished Partly furnished accommodation usually has air-conditioning units, refrigerator, hob, cooker, hood, light fittings and window treatments.

Fully furnished accommodation will usually have all hard furnishing such as beds and side tables, dining suite, lounge suite, occasional tables, etc. Some landlords also provide other items such as table lamps, fans, televisions, and other appliances.

Funds Payable
  • One month advance rent
  • Two/Three months' security deposit
  • Stamp Duty
Good Faith Deposit Generally paid subject to contract when an offer is made on a property, prior to receiving or approving the draft Tenancy Agreement. This deposit will form part of the two or three months' security deposit when the Tenancy Agreement is executed by both parties.
Security Deposit Two or three months' rent held by the landlord for the duration of the Lease against damages caused by the tenant.
Term The lease period is usually two years with an option to renew for a further one year.
Diplomatic Clause Most landlords will agree to a "diplomatic clause", which means the tenant can give early notice to terminate, usually only after the completion of the first twelve months of the term, by serving two or three months written notice or payment of rent in lieu thereof. This clause is only exercisable in the event the tenant or occupant is transferred from Singapore or refused a renewed Employment Pass. In the case of a Corporate Lease, this clause is also exercisable in the event the occupant ceases to be in the employ of the company. The tenant will be responsible for refunding the commission on a pro-rata basis to the landlord.
Rent This is the agreed monthly amount which remains constant for the term of the lease. Normally it includes the monthly maintenance and sinking fund charges payable to the Management Corporation. The rent is open to negotiation in the event the tenant exercises the option to extend for a further one year term after the initial two year lease terminates. Rent is payable direct to the landlord, monthly, in advance.
Seller's Stamp Duty
A tax. For residential properties bought on or after 30 August 2010, Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD) will be imposed, if these properties are sold within three years of purchase.

Local Property Terminology

Phrase Explanation
2+1 2 bedrooms plus servant's room
4 +1 4 bedrooms plus servant's room
Air Con Air conditioning
Bungalow Doesn't necessarily mean one level, just that it stands alone
Maisonette 2 level apartment with bedrooms and main bathroom upstairs
Condo (Condominium) Apartments which include facilities such as a pool or tennis court
Level 1 The ground floor in Singapore
Strata-titled property An apartment in a building, where some areas are common/shared
Semi Semi-detached house or one townhouse
Shop House A property that used to be a traditional shop selling spices or trading from years past. Many of them are now on the conservation list
Black & Whites Colonial houses
District 9, 10 & 11 The name refers to the main expatriate areas. These numbers are no longer used officially, they refer to 'old' postal districts
Heartlands Where middle class/working class Singapore lives
Land-titled property Property within its own land
HDB Housing Development Board -apartments only available to Citizens & Permanent Residents
Fogging Mosquito prevention. Areas are fogged with pesticides
Pest control A regular service provided to homes to prevent infestation of pests like cockroaches, ants, etc.
Neg (negotiable) Several prospective tenants may look at the property and the one making the best offer will get it
Information supplied by Citiprop Pacific, 14-7 Dempsey Road Singapore Tel: 6473 2777 Copyright © Citiprop Pacific All Rights Reserved