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.

Related Page

Re: Jetstar International is recruiting!


Old Coots?? You mean Strong Eagle is still around? :devil:
*ducks and runs for cover* :shooting: :shock:

Nah, don't see any old coots. I do miss the fun we used to have out here, but all the regular offenders don't post any more. I miss Sapphs, Vacluse, MHB, BH10Y, Fohls, CD..... Those were good times! \:D/

Re: Master's thesis on Repatriation Adjustment


ok...will start with yours and work backwards to SE's, this will take a few iterations and I need to be in the zone for this, which I'm not really ATM...

This is one concern, to go back, and regret doing that, and effectively closing the door on coming back, because it is difficult to do.

With so many changes, and the change in my age, there are real concerns about being able to work, the health care situation, the sharp divisions between right and left and neither being anything sane anymore, and other financial concerns.

Plus the general fit for me, to be back around an largely un-international demographic which I may not be able to relate to very well.


re: SG specifically, and leaving here.
There's the climate thing. The shock lasts about a month IME. After that, when you remember that there are things like sweaters and coats, being out of this climate is actually pretty damned good.
I expect I might differ from you on this, and that makes it one more reason to regret leaving.

Now this, this is one of the key things on the plus side of leaving, and is a huge factor. So much is lost when one is out of one's true environment. I may no longer be able to fully relate to the people's back home perspectives on life and the world, but there is a much more natural way of relating to them as fellow human beings, and I have grown very weary of the contrary.

Re: I am a 20 year old NS Defaulter

If you read my post and the attached quote/link you will see that because you were not ever in the military, you will be dealt with in the civil courts.

They will not entertain any questions before hand but will tell you to return and present yourself to them. Any penalties will be the judgement of the courts and it can vary. If you go to the link for the whole page, under the portion that I copy/pasted, you will read about a rather high profile case who was just given a fine. You played, now if you want to return you will definitely have to pay, but because you are still young enough quite possibly you may only have a fine. But there are no guarantees. You buys your ticket and you takes your chances.

Re: I am a 20 year old NS Defaulter

So, should I contact Mindef and ask what they would do to me if I voluntarily return? Can I trust what they say? For instance, if they say they won't put me in jail and only give me a fine + NS, can I take their word for it? I'm scared that they will turn back on their word and put me in jail (maybe its a bit naive to think like that but its still a possibility)

Re: Jetstar International is recruiting!

Yeah, since 2011, the dynamics here have changed considerably. Most that are left are hanging on and wondering if/when their number is up, EP/PR wise. Some of us, however, have become so entrenched that it's virtually impossible to escape! In fact, some of us old coots should have been put out to pasture long ago! LOL

Re: Music

I think the thing with Motorhead (I like your umlaut BTW :-D] is not to take them too seriously. I know they look angry/mean etc ... but don't forget one of their biggest hits is called 'Killed by death', and has the opening lyric 'If you squeeze my lizard, I'll put my snake on you'.

That documentary is surprisingly personal and tender (much of the focus is on Lemmy of course). You get to see his humour, his personal vulnerabilities, the lot. There is a lot of humility, not a hint of vanity, nothing fake or varnished about him. WYSIWYG.

They are also a legendarily hard-working band, something crazy like 200 gigs a year for 40 years, and still at it. So the honest insight into that and their life on the road is also interesting. How Lemmy is still alive.... heaven's knows.
Plus they know the fans are there to hear the hits, and not just what some bands do and play 90% 'stuff off our new album'. For a band of that stature they don't gouge on the ticket-price either, as they know a lot of there fans are not well off. We paid something like euro30 each - a few weeks later we went to see AC/DC in a c80,000pax stadium and paid many multiples of that for pretty average seats.

I've only seen Motorhead once and it was in c2000 capacity hall in a very run-down neighbourhood of former communist East Berlin. Not the kind of area I really relished going at night. I took my wife too, a Duran Duran fan lol, a petite Asian lady, i.e. I'm probably out of the stereotype mold of a typical Motorhead fan -> 'Big angry and violent tattooed bikers', my wife 10* more-so. All in, beforehand, she had her doubts if it was a wise thing to do. Anyway it was absolutely brilliant. They came on pretty much on time, started with their usual greeting, on that night, 'Hello Berlin thank you for coming - We are Motorhead and we play rock'n'roll!' that segued immediately into over two hours of continuous music. No more chat until right at the very end... 'Thank you Berlin, you've been a brilliant audience, give yourself a round of applause!'.

So yeah, try and put the image aside if you have an interest in watching the linked programme. Above and beyond the music what they've achieved is really pretty amazing. I can understand why they have been called 'The hardest working band in rock n'roll'.

Re: Jetstar International is recruiting!


The wit is still intact, but the dynamic out here has changed. So many folks are no longer posting out here and I have few mates left to bounce my witticisms off.

But I'll skulk and see 8-[

Re: Music

Will look into that Motörhead documentary, I don't think they are my type of thing but need to educate myself on them and be sure, one of those many bands on the To Check list.

Meanwhile, a bit eerie how we were only talking slap bass a few weeks back and just last week one of those very best masters passed away way too young, so this in his honor:

Edit: added umlaut


ya I do agree....Thanks


Your credit card balance doesn't appear on your police record Neither is it a civil offence, after all what law has been broken? Having a credit card balance is simply a personal debt.

I understand if/when ICA run an international police record scan on someone it's more at say the level of Interpol. To suggest that Interpol might have an interest in your credit card balance is wildly preposterous.

I'm now convinced this whole question is simply a wind-up, as the bounds of reality get pushed further out with each reply. ...

Re: RE: I am a 20 year old NS Defaulter


Encouraging words ...

Brightened my Saturday anyway ....

Re: I am a 20 year old NS Defaulter

If you voluntarily turn yourself in, you will probably be fined (up to $5G I believe) and you will have to do your NS as well. They 'could' make you do time as well. Following is a links to answer your questions but can not answer your odds.... ... #Penalties for NS defaulters

Sir, let me now touch on the issue of punishment for NS defaulters. The legal framework for National Service is contained in two pieces of legislation – the Enlistment Act and the Singapore Armed Forces Act.

The Enlistment Act applies to all Singaporeans and Permanent Residents from age 16½ to 40, or age 50 in the case of officers. The Act provides for the registration and enlistment of those liable for National Service, and also for the requirement to apply for an Exit Permit or to notify MINDEF when going overseas. Those who fail to comply with the provisions of the Enlistment Act are dealt with in the civil courts regardless of whether they are pre-enlistees, full-time NSmen or Operationally Ready NSmen. On conviction, they can be sentenced to a jail term of up to three years, or a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

The Singapore Armed Forces Act deals with those in the service of the SAF and contains provisions pertaining to their conduct and discipline. Those in the service of the SAF comprise regulars, full-time NSmen, and Operationally Ready NSmen who have been served an order to report for service. Pre-enlistees are not subject to the Singapore Armed Forces Act as they are not yet in the service of the SAF. Servicemen who commit offences under the Singapore Armed Forces Act are dealt with either in the Subordinate Military Court or by SAF disciplinary officers.

NS defaulters are dealt with under the Enlistment Act as they have failed to respond to orders to register or enlist for National Service, or failed to comply with Exit Permit requirements. MINDEF’s approach in dealing with NS defaulters has been to charge them in Court for Enlistment Act offences and let the Court impose an appropriate sentence based on the circumstances of each case and the provisions of the Enlistment Act.

Over the past 20 years, 185 NS defaulters have been convicted in Court for Enlistment Act offences. Of these, 43 received jail sentences, 140 were fined and two were punished in connection with other civil offences. Of the 140 who were fined, 35 were ultimately jailed when they did not pay their fines.

Of the 185 convicted defaulters, 127 were enlisted or are awaiting enlistment for National Service following their convictions. Two were supposed to enlist but defaulted again prior to their enlistment. 33 were not drafted as they were unsuitable for enlistment for security or medical reasons - they would not have been enlisted in any case even if they had not defaulted on NS. The remaining 23 were not drafted because they were either above the statutory age limit or no longer Singaporeans.

Of note is that the High Court had, in a 1993 case, reduced the sentences of two NS defaulters - two brothers - from eight months' imprisonment to a fine of $3,000 on appeal. This was an unusual case where it could be said that there were mitigating circumstances. Since then the Subordinate Courts have been using this case as a guideline, and not imposed a jail sentence on single-instance defaulters, no matter how long the default period was. The courts have imposed jail sentence on single instance defaulters only in cases where there are aggravating factors, such as repeated Enlistment Act offences, past criminal records, concurrent charges of other civil offences, and absconding during investigation.

It is for the Court to decide on the appropriate punishment for individual cases of NS defaulters. MINDEF had not been pressing for custodial sentences, nor had it appealed for heavier sentences. The majority of cases so far have been those who returned at a relatively young age and were still able to fulfil their National Service obligations. Half of those charged in Court over the past 20 years returned at age 21 or younger, and 80% returned at age 28 or younger. A fine for such NS defaulters was not inappropriate as they were still able to serve their National Service obligations in full.

However, Melvyn Tan’s case has highlighted an inadequacy in penalties for those who have defaulted for so many years that they are no longer able to discharge their National Service obligations in full. Since the appeal case in the High Court in 1993, besides Melvyn Tan, there have been 13 other cases of convicted defaulters who were sentenced only to a fine and who were not subsequently enlisted because they were already over 40 or almost 40. This is something that we need to look into more closely, especially as there may now be more defaulters who are 40 or older coming before the courts with the passing of time.



Not in my experience.
In fact the only time I've ever been asked for such a thing was when applying for a US visa, from the US Embassy in London.
For the record: In the UK it goes by the rather curious name of a 'Subject Access Notice'. To get a copy of one, you had to go to your local UK police station and prove your id. I.e. there would have been no possibility of getting one if I had have been living abroad.
Which leads to a broader question, how widely available are such things if you don't live in the associated country? This might be why (IME) they don't ask routinely ask for them here, they are difficult if not impossible to get hold of.

Thanks JR8 for the quick reply. I felt the same way. Although I wasn't asked this for my US visa and the UK visa too.
I was worried about all this as i am a bit paranoid about the ICA doing a background search from the countries whre I have resided in the past 5 years and this unpaid credit debt becoming an issue for the singapore student pass application. Although I have spoken to the bank and they have allowed me to pay the due in August once my stipend at NTU starts . But prior to that I have this student pass application and was a bit worried if ICA takes a note of the credit card debt thing........In your opinion the credit card debt is a civil matter right ? and cannot be construed as a criminal matter..... Also it's a very small matter for the INTERPOL and all such authorities to get involved....

U see how paranoid I am getting since a month just because of this shitty credit debt thing......I hope therez no issue with the STP application ....

Recent PR and Citizen successes

Just to add to the knowledge bank here, two recent success stories:

1) Single Male, 38, earning 4k pm, been in Singapore 15 years. Applied PR in November 2014 and received AIP in Feb 2015. Malaysian Chinese.

2) Single female. 45yrs old, been in Singapore 35yrs, PR for 30yrs. Earning >20k pm. Applied for citizenship in Dec 2015 and received AIP in April 2015. Also Malaysian Chinese.

We know there is a higher chance of success for Malaysian Chinese candidates, but I am also of the opinion that a lengthy commitment to Singapore prior to application increases chances. More so than industry, earnings, family, home ownership. It also increases chances of a faster response time, it seems.



Not in my experience.
In fact the only time I've ever been asked for such a thing was when applying for a US visa, from the US Embassy in London.
For the record: In the UK it goes by the rather curious name of a 'Subject Access Notice'. To get a copy of one, you had to go to your local UK police station and prove your id. I.e. there would have been no possibility of getting one if I had have been living abroad.
Which leads to a broader question, how widely available are such things if you don't live in the associated country? This might be why (IME) they don't ask routinely ask for them here, they are difficult if not impossible to get hold of.