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: Everyone I know is leaving or already left

the lynx:

So true.

Re: Everyone I know is leaving or already left

I believe higher skill level FTs were never a problem for the local population perhaps with the exception when making arrogant posts on FB or behaving like AHs in public. However, the mid level is IMHO a different story. While MNCs tend to hire them for the skills and quality, many SMEs looked at them as a cheaper replacement for the local workforce.
The group (a) MNCs and the SMEs not willing to compromise on their quality will end up following the scenario described by SE. The group (b), local SMEs looking for savings will downsize, close down, or if they still can, hire the locals shrinking their profit margin. Now, the important question is if the job loss in the first group is going to be compensated by the hiring of locals in the second group.

BTW, I have noticed that since the work pass policies were tightened the number of half-wit job and residency related posts from "FTs" coming over to SG dropped down very drastically.

Re: Franchising opportunities in Singapore ? how to enter the market ?

For one year plus there is an increase in the number of spammers posting here from this country, but also some enquiries like this one. Would be interesting to know if this is what it seems/being claimed or something else and if there is a correlation with some well known events.

Re: Franchising opportunities in Singapore ? how to enter the market ?

You will not get very far here as you have absolutely no concept or research into this country. Singapore has had cash card for 20 or 30 years. :roll:

Re: Salary Details Publicised

Probably they never visited a lawyer. I am very sure it is possible and must happen on regular basis.

Re: RE: Re: RE: Re: Salary Details Publicised


And they humbly accepted the faith? How the company could have proven which of the two had breached the agreement?
(nice one Ecu)

I can't remember a case where an employee sued his employer and won. In Singapore.....

Franchising opportunities in Singapore ? how to enter the market ?

Hello everybody,

Sorry if I duplicate this item but I didn't find it in other posts. My name is Angelina and the company I work for is planning to enter the franchising/business market of Singapore with prepaid cards. I believe that at this website I can find a lot of experts who can give me answers for some of the questions. We are completely new to this market, so any advice will be highly appreciated. :o What are the main requirements and what are the main steps to start with? What are the timeframes of the main procedures? Which online platform is it better to start with? How do you think will it be interesting for people in Singapore such a financial solution as the prepaid cards? You'll make my day :roll: if you give some contacts, links etc.

Kind Regards,

Re: Everyone I know is leaving or already left

And in a parallel to what SE recounts...

My first stint, mid-90s setting up a bank trading floor/mid/back-office. The initial presence opened with 2-3 staff in c93. When I arrived in '94 there were maybe 20. By the time I left in '95 there were around 60. c2 years later there were none. The whole operation moved to HK as it had lower overheads and was easier to do business. The expats, in general, relo'd up there, the locals were laid off.

Re: Everyone I know is leaving or already left

For BBC's assertion to be true it would have to be a given that the locals have the skills/experience that the mid/higher FTs bring in. But do they? After all it's long been required at that level to have to petition for your P1/2 (etc?) stating clearly why that is so. The employer also has to pay an FT a lot more than a local, so when they do so they have made a reasoned decision. In simple terms logic would suggest that these FTs are in SG to do jobs locals cannot.

And I suspect that in a fast evolving world re: technology, financial products etc/etc that in the absence of SGns being willing to go abroad to learn cutting-edge and niche skills (to take home), that such FTs will be required to keep the economy as dynamic as it has been over recent years.

Blow a cold wind through the sector creating a xenophobic climate. Make FTs think they're just about tolerated but clearly not welcomed and word gets around: And a damn sight faster that it used to, now we're in this 24/7 wired-up world.

Event Fairs and Relocation to Singapore

Hi all

I'm Ann and am currently running a survey for my business capstone project and would like your help on this survey. The purpose of the survey is to find out your experiences attending to any event fairs in as well as your experience relocating to Singapore. Rest assured, the survey is anonymous and is strictly confidential as I would like it on myself.


Would appreciate your help on this and many thanks in advance!! :D



Re: 25 old Female wants to make friends in singapore

Hi, I am Indian girl, 22 year old, I'm looking to make some friends and hang out with! Let me know what you think!

22 Year old girl looking to meet some friendly people!

I am an Indian girl here in Singapore for a few months. I don't really know anybody so it'll be cool to meet some new people! I'm friendly and outgoing, love travelling and doing artsy stuff! xD

Drop me a message if you're interested! :D

Re: Everyone I know is leaving or already left

Strong Eagle:

I agree with you, but while it's bad for foreign workers it's working exactly as the government wants for resident workers.

No, it's not what the government wants at all, they just cannot stop it. I personally outsourced Singapore based call centers that had expat managers and local Singaporeans as employees. The managers ended up in Manila, the Singapore employees ended up unemployed.

I also assisted in the planning stages of a large MNC moving virtually all of its technical staff to KL. Singaporeans were given the opportunity to move to KL at a far lower salary or they were let go. This included programmers, business process developers, security people, and tier 2 support. Again, expat managers and a handful of expat experts were without jobs but far more locals were without jobs as well.

Re: RE: Re: Salary Details Publicised


Years back a friend was finishing at a company and came across a spreadsheet which listed all the contractor rates. There were some big discrepancies so, as a parting gift, he passed it on to the contractor population. It was an interesting few weeks by all accounts.

In a recent past job, a manager found out that his direct report was earning twice as the manager. Thanks to beer overload.

And the manager confronted his boss and HR.

End result, manager and his subordinate got terminated for breach of confidentiality...

Welcome to Singapore.

And they humbly accepted the faith? How the company could have proven which of the two had breached the agreement?
(nice one Ecu)

Re: Everyone I know is leaving or already left


I dunno. I'm beginning to think SMS is Lazarus Man.

Well, I have re-invented myself 3 times over the past 50 years (well 4x if you count the 3 years as a Chopper pilot in the late 60's). I don't count milking cows as a kid!