Procedure for Rental

Expat Guide - Rent Property in SingaporeExpat Guide - Rent Property in SingaporeExpat Guide - Rent Property in Singapore

Singapore Expats leasing, renting guide - This page covers a step by step guide and information on the procedures for expat to rent or lease property like an apartment or house in Singapore.

Please also read our Expatriates FAQ for more information.

Property Search

Engage a Realtor

A professional property agent in Singapore will assist you and protect your interest throughout the purchase, secure the offer for you at the best possible price. With a much better knowledge of Singapore, the agent will be in a better position to recommend and advice on the choice of property. He will also ensure that all documents are in order and you are dealing with the rightful owner of the property.

Use Only 1 Agent

Most property companies share the same database of property listings in Singapore. Therefore use only ONE agent at a time. If you approach many agents at the same time, very likely that they will show you the same property. Much confusion and embarrassment will arise if you engage many agents. Using 1 agent, you will save valuable time for yourself and the agent. He will then understand your needs and requirements better after a few viewings. Only if they are incompetence, unresponsive or not showing the correct property you wanted, then start to look for another agent.

Location and Price

Deciding on the right location is very important and it will determine the convenience for you family and yourself. Price - budgeting yourself will also evaluate which are the areas and apartments or houses that are suitable for you. Refer to our House Hunt Guide for more details and tips.


You have decided on take up a property and you need to prepare the following:

  • Photocopied passport
  • Photocopied employment pass
  • One month's rental for the goodfaith deposit
Your agent will then prepare the necessary documents for you such as the Letter of Intent and Tenancy Agreement.

Letter of Intent

The Letter of Intent, LOI for short, is a letter proposing your intention to lease and your requirements to the landlord. You should take note of the following:

1. Diplomatic or Repatriate Clause

This clause is to safe guard you if in the event you are no longer employed, transferred to other countries, you can terminate the lease after 12 months by giving 2 months notice. Thereafter, the security deposit will be refunded to you. Please note that most landlords will only include the diplomatic clause if the lease is more than a year. 

2. Goodfaith Deposit (booking deposit)

This is the booking deposit, usually the amount is one month's rent. After the landlord signed the Letter of Intent and accept this deposit, he cannot rent the property to other party. This deposit will become part of the security deposit or advance rental after the Tenancy Agreement is signed.

3. Security Deposit

The amount of the security deposit is usually stated in the Letter or Intent. The standard practice in Singapore is usually one month's rent for every year of lease. It will only be payable upon signing of the Tenancy Agreement. When the lease term ends, the deposit will be refunded without interest. However, the landlord reserves the right to deduct from the deposit all costs and expenses arising from the tenant for breaching any of the covenants stated in the Tenancy Agreement.

4. Term of Lease

In Singapore, the standard lease period is more than 1 year, with or without an option to renew the lease. The lease renewal is usually for another 1 to 2 years. For the lease renewal option, the landlord would normally require that you give 2 or 3 months' advance notice of your intention to renew. Most landlords will not accept leases that are less than 1 year.

5. Your Requirements

Ensure that all your requirements and requests are stated in the Letter of Intent clearly. Like requesting a new sofa, new bed or new washing machine etc. After the landlord had signed the Letter of Intent, he is bound by the Letter to provide your requests.

Fully Furnished (F/Furn) or Partially Furnished (P/Furn)  - Fully furnished means the apartment or house you are renting comes with all the furniture, white goods (refrigerator, washer and dryer) and all the essential electric appliances. Partially furnished apartments or house usually only comes with white goods, curtains, lightings or some other loose items. Although a house may be partially furnished at the time of viewing, you can always request the landlord to fully furnish it or request him to get the items you require. All these issues are always negotiation and will determine the final rental amount.

Tenancy Agreement

After the Letter of intent is duly signed. The landlord will prepare the Tenancy Agreement. Any legal fees incurred for the drawing up of the agreement is usually borne by the tenant. However, if the landlord's agreement is acceptable, there will usually not be any legal fees involved.

If the landlord or the landlord's agent is using the standard IEA agreement, it should be fine. Your agent will then ensure that the Tenancy Agreement is fair and unbiased.

You will need to prepare the rest of the security deposit and advance rental upon signing of the Tenancy Agreement. For 1 year lease - 1 month's deposit and 1 month's advance rental. For 2 years lease - 2 month's deposit and 1 month's advance rental. Minus the goodfaith deposit (if applicable) that you have paid when signing the Letter of Intent.

These are the important terms you should take note of when signing the Tenancy Agreement:

1. Diplomatic or Escape Clause and Reimbursement Clause

Check for this clause. This clause is to safe guard you if in the event you are no longer employed, transferred to other countries, you can terminate the lease after 12 months by giving 2 months notice. Thereafter, the security deposit will be refunded to you. Please note that most landlords will only include the diplomatic clause if the lease is more than a year. 

In a standard Singapore Tenancy Agreement, there is usually the reimbursement clause together with the diplomatic clause. This clause states that if you exercise the diplomatic clause, you will have to reimburse part of the commission the landlord had paid to his agent.

The reason behind this clause is that the landlord had paid the full one month's agent commission for a 2 years lease but if you terminate the lease by exercising the diplomatic clause, hence unable to complete the full 2 years, you will have to refund the pro-rata commission. Since landlord grants the diplomatic clause, they will usually demand reimbursement clause to be included in the tenancy agreement.

2. Public Utilities, Telephone and Cable Television

The installation charges and the monthly bills for the following services are the tenant's responsibility:

  • SP Services - the water and electricity supply
  • City gas - piped gas in selected areas.
  • Singapore Telecom- residential telephone line.
  • Starhub Cable Vision (SCV) - cable television and cable broadband internet.

Although at times the tenant can request for some of the fixed bills to be included in the rental amount as a package.

3. Repairs and Maintenance

The tenant is responsible for maintaining the leased premise, carry out minor repairs at own costs. In a standard agreement, the tenant will only be responsible if the amount of the repair does not exceed S$100 or S$150.

Only major repairs and maintenance would be the landlord's responsibility provided that the damage or malfunction of appliances is not caused by the tenant's negligence.

The tenant will have to take up service contract for items such as air-conditioning, gardening, pest control or pool servicing.

4. Rental Amount

Check the rental amount. Sometimes the landlord will divide the rental amount into a. rental of premises, b. rental of furniture and fittings, c. maintenance fees. Just make sure it adds up to the correct amount that you have agreed.

5. Stamp Duty

In Singapore, Tenancy Agreement will need to be stamped by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore. Only after the Tenancy is stamped then it can be considered a valid contract as evidence in court for any disputes that may arise in the future with your landlord. This is to protect the interest of both parties. The stamp duty is usually borne by the tenant.

Computation of the stamp duty fee (updated 22 Feb 2014):

Rental Period of 4 years (48 months) or LESS

Total rental x 0.004

then round down to the nearest dollar

Example 1a Monthly rent is $5,000
Term of lease is 2 years (24 months)
Therefore, stamp fee = 5000 x 24 x 0.004 = $480

Example 1b
Monthly rent is $3,888
Term of lease is 3 years (36 months)
Therefore, stamp fee = 3888 x 36 x 0.004 = $599.872 = $559 (rounded down)

Rental Period MORE than 4 years (48 months)

Total rental divided by the number of years (average annual rent)
Then use the above answer x 0.016

then round down to the nearest dollar

Example 2a
Monthly rent is $5,000
Term of lease is 5 years (60 months)
5000 x 60 / 5 = 60000
60000 x 0.016 = $960
Stamp fee = $960

Example 2b
Monthly rent is $3,888
Term of lease is 6 years (72 months)
3888 x 72 / 6 = 46656
46656 x 0.016 = $746.496
Stamp fee = $746 (rounded down)

6. Term of Lease

The standard lease period is 1 year or more, with or without an option to renew the lease.

Taking Over the Property

The landlord will prepare an Inventory List on or before the day of handing over. Check the items listed in the inventory. Check all electrical appliances, air-con, lightings, water heater etc.

If there is anything unsatisfactory, do not panic, note it down on the inventory. Even brand new houses have defects, therefore be understanding and allow the landlord to rectify it within a reasonable period.

Commission Payable

As each realtor may charge differently, please refer to your realtor for the service fee payable.

Tenant and landlord should ensure that an invoice from a licenced real estate agency is issued to them. Upon payment, do not pay cash directly to the realtor, instead, issue a cross-cheque payable to the realtor's agency according to the invoice.

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Re: German wife's LTVP/LTVP+ chances

hey guys,

thanks for the overwhelming response. just to clarify, I am a Singaporean Citizen born and bred, so not on EP, and certainly not on any expat package, although the benefits I enjoy from my company are very favourable for a stay home wife. :) Hence not sure if she qualifies as a 'trailing spouse'.

Having said this, if (unlikely but you never know) I do ever lose my job, does it mean she loses her LTVP status assuming she has not gotten her PR or EP?


Re: German wife's LTVP/LTVP+ chances


If I might add a comment to this, in case the rational isn't clear.
If she were hired from abroad 'on her own merits' then she might expect to receive something akin to an 'expat package' that tends to compensate for the familial upheaval of uprooting and moving half-way around the world. But: in the case of an LTVP+, she's already here, and so the employer (naturally) is most unlikely to offer her such a 'bells and whistles' package. In fact, there might be a sense that she already enjoys the benefits of your expat package (rent, flights, health insurance etc), and that 'she's here any she wants rather than needs this job, so no need to be generous eh?'. This would apply increasingly less if she has hot and in demand skills, where they might realise they have to offer a decent package to get her 'unique' skillset.

And yes, spouses' jobhunts can be long and disheartening. You will need to offer a lot of support, and in the meantime ensure she is kept busy, can build a social life, and so on. Your own social life will probably begin in the office. Much harder for her home alone all day in a new place, with you bedding in and working all hours 'proving your worth' in the office... it's to your advantage to keep that in mind, especially while she goes about getting something fulfilling to do to fill her time. I am again in precisely such a position as hers right now, but some years ago was lucky enough to find a side-line that is geographically mobile, and keeps me mentally fully engaged. Without it there is no question I'd pack up and go home, ...or stay and go nuts :)

Re: German wife's LTVP/LTVP+ chances

To add on:-
- All documents have been prepared and sorted out as per the requirements stated on the website.
Excellent. I learned the hard way, arriving and having no hard-copy records to evidence my by then archaic (and IMO at that time, irrelevant) qualifications.

Yes, absolutely, without question. IIRC this is either specifically requested on the forms, or there is a 'white space' box to enter such 'additional information'. Anything you can add that makes her more desirable in ICAs/MOMs eyes will only be of benefit to her. Being qualified and experienced to attain roles such as you mention will help set her application apart. Payslips or salary credit entries on bank statements, would probably serve an equal purpose in this regard.

My approach was to detail everything, and then evidence it too with an attachment. In some ways you cannot provide too much information of this kind. The caveat is not to overdo it too much and so irritate the officer handling the case... her '50M swimming award, aged 10', and so on.

we will be ticking the '+' box for sure as she does not wanna sit around idle at home. Problem is, a month or 2 prior to today, we have been sending out resumes for jobs but to no avail. I am wondering is the workforce climate towards foreigners that cold now?
Should I include details of a property that I own which generates passive income? Will that help?
Cheers guys!

Being a 'trailing spouse' is a curious thing. Some arrive in SG and imagine they can happily sit by the pool all day, and that's what they happily do. Others need to have a sense of personal achievement and fulfilment, which translates into a job, or some 'side-line' even as basic as setting up an EBay sellers account. Some arrive, spend a month by the pool, then realise the sloth is slowly eating them up inside. Like early retirement perhaps, it's often not what you expect of it, you need to work (hard) to fill the gaps in your self-worth that successful employment provided. I know I have tried to describe this here before (some while ago now).

re: jobhunting.
As a rule of thumb, she won't get any interviews until she is physically in SG. So getting no replies is completely expected, and you mustn't take it at all negatively. Secondly, in SG if she wants to work she has two routes, qualify on her own merits for an EP (which the employer applies for), or get an LTVP+ which allows her to be employed outside an employers 'foreigner visa quotas' (that is how I recall it). One thing of note re: an LTVP+ is that it is tied to your EP. So, if you lost your job, then her ability to work is lost too. --- Perhaps these kind of considerations are a little premature at this stage. I'd focus on getting to SG, with all the possible documentation you might need in future.

There has been a lot of noise recently from the locals along the lines of 'You for 5 locals, it's now 1 for 8. These ratios are being increasingly squeezed. But the jobs now going to locals rather than FT, are jobs locals have the quals/exp for. That naturally suggests roles that cannot be done by locals. This goes back to an earlier point about evidencing what useful skills/exp she has, but also anything within that that is in demand from SGn employers, that perhaps SGns cannot do, or demonstrably cannot do as well. Consider it like petitioning for a US employment visa; you need to win the case of demonstrating that you want a visa to do a job that a local can't.

As I recall on the LTVP forms non-employment income of the applicant is disclosed but I'm not sure if it's asked re: the associated spouse/EP. So for my LTVP application forms I disclosed (my) rental income under a broader heading of 'investment income' that included income from stocks etc. Anyway, I'd just look at the forms and see how they detail what kind of data they're after. And in due course if you're unsure when filling them out come back to this topic and poll for clarification on any specific points.

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I've enjoyed your posts today, and agree with your observations. I was going to make several of the points you have, but sensed this kind of discussion is not welcome here. In any case you have expressed it far more eloquently than I would have, so thanks for that ;)

And to your point above. The government are disconnected because the people have a history of being terrified to speak or have opinions; at least in public. And every ballot paper is 'public' in that it's serial number thereon is x-reffed to the voters IC, and the government will certainly be sifting all that data to spot trouble looming ahead. And we have seen what happens to estates and constituencies that 'vote the wrong way'. It must be very intimidating.

Re: German wife's LTVP/LTVP+ chances

A question and I hoped I understood correctly from the numerous threads, if she is granted LTVP status, she is still allowed to go for interviews and in the event that a company do offer her a position, the EP will replace the LTVP without any hassle?

Thanks once again guys!

Correct. Or if you get the LTVP+ they can put her on a Letter of Consent, although without any Foreign Worker levies on EP holders, it's a moot point. However, if she is being offered a position for an EP, it must be, in the MOM's eyes, a position not easily filled by a local. Therefore, the LoC might be the only way to position her to enable employment. There are gates and trap doors everywhere today. But as she doesn't have to worry about the breadwinner losing their EP she is much better placed to successfully find a position.

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Baliba OT :D As I can squeeze out happy hour beer, after Happy hour ;)