Renting a House or Apartment in Singapore
How to find and lease accommodation in Singapore...
There are many apartments, condominiums, houses, town houses, colonial houses and semi-detached properties available for rent at varying rates. Properties can be found through a property agent, or try the Straits Times classified ads.
Finding a Property to Rent
A person looking for a property to rent in Singapore should first select a realtor to represent them. The realtor will ascertain the requirements (type of accommodation, preferred location, budget, number of bedrooms) and source appropriate properties, schedule appointments, collect the person from their hotel or residence and accompany them to view the selected properties.
Once a property is selected, the realtor will negotiate to secure the property on the tenant's behalf. Properties in Singapore are multi-listed so any chosen realtor should have access to every available property. If a person is aware of a property that they wish to view, they can provide the details to the realtor who should be able to show it. There is no need to use several agents to view various properties.
Realtors in Singapore work on a commission basis only and do not receive a fee for their work unless they successfully secure a tenant; estate agents set their own commission guidelines, these are based on the monthly rent and duration of lease agreement. Service fees may apply separately for overview of properties and / or other services engaged, including research. These should be nominal at best. Commissions may be paid by landlord or tenant, but it is illegal for a single realtor (Salesperson) to collect from both parties.
The term "co-broking" is used when one realtor represents a landlord and one realtor represents a tenant. The two realtors may share the commission fee. This used to be the common practice, however, this is no longer the case, as the new rules dictates that the realtor should preferably be paid by the party they are representing. This is to prevent conflict of interest scenarios. Tenants who are not willing to pay the commission to their realtors should be aware that it is still possible to secure a property, provided that the co-broking agent is willing to share the commission with your realtor. The only downside to this: it places a limit on the selection of properties available.
The Institute of Estate Agents (IEA) promotes and protects the interests of estate agents and people making use of their services. It aims to represent all estate agents in Singapore and prospective tenants and property owners are encouraged to work with an IEA member when selling, buying, leasing or finding accommodation.
The Council for Estate Agents (CEA) is a statutory board which administers the enhanced regulatory framework for the real estate agency industry. Estate agents must register with the CEA, pass an industry examination and undergo yearly training (continuing professional development, CPD). CEA also engages in public education efforts, helps consumers in property transactions and assists in disputes between agents and consumers.
The colonial-style houses (Black & White) are very popular with expatriates. These properties, originally built by the British during the 1900s, are government owned and housing agents do not have access to them. A rental can be applied for through SLA Singapore Land Authority. There are waiting lists for the more popular locations. To register, contact SLA direct.
Normal rental terms and conditions do not apply when renting a colonial bungalow. These houses are rented on an "as is" basis (although they will repaint before handover). They have no white goods, air-conditioning, light fittings, curtains and so forth included in the price, although the purchase of these items can often be negotiated from the previous tenant. This is called "key money". In the event the outgoing tenant cannot sell or give the fixtures and fittings to the new incoming tenant, the outgoing tenant is required to remove them all from the property, presenting an "empty shell" on hand-back.
All maintenance contracts are the tenant's responsibility.
Singapore's residential districts include Bukit Timah, Holland Road, Tanglin district and Orchard Road, formerly known as districts 9, 10 and 11 (a reference still used by many).
Raffles Place is generally regarded as the prime market for office space while Orchard Road is the prime location for retail space.
The East Coast vicinity (districts 15 and 16) is a less expensive area popular with expatriates.
There are plenty of good-quality serviced apartments that can be used for short-term let. Book well in advance as occupancy rates are high.
Prices are almost always negotiable. When choosing a property home improvements can be negotiated in the rental price.
Things in a property to check include:
- The air conditioners and how old they are. Old ones can be costly to run and are often inefficient and noisy
- If the kitchen is air-conditioned
- If there is an oven in the kitchen
- If there a washing machine and drier and if the washing machine operate on varied temperatures
- Check water pressure
- Noise level
- Possible building site nearby
- Rental Contract