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.

Documentation


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)
Calculations:
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)
Calculations:
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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Life in Singapore

Pal:



Ask anyone what they know of Singapore and the answers are likely to give you a fascinating glimpse into life on this tropical island. Of the many responses to this question, the following two are likely to be the ones most frequently encountered:

1) It’s like a part of China right?
2) It’s that country where they put a boat on top of a building right?

If you’re reading this post, chances are, you already know the answers to both questions. Nevertheless, to the curious and the uninitiated, we would love the chance to tackle some of the most common questions asked about Singapore.



Once a small fishing village, Singapore became a British colony in 1824. It fell to the Japanese in 1942, became a part of Malaysia in 1963, and was shortly evicted, thereby becoming independent in 1965.



Singapore is the world’s one and only island city-state.

In other words, the entire country consists of a single city.

This incredible fact, once divulged, often leads to Singapore’s identity as a country being called into question, especially by those accustomed to living in much larger ones. Nevertheless, this Southeast Asian country has been an independent nation for the past 51 years.

By 2015, the country’s territory extended across 719.1 square kilometres, and is roughly of the same size as the state of Kentucky. Unlike Kentucky, however, Singapore also enjoys the dubious honour of having the third-highest population density in the world. If you’re committing the figure above to memory, do check again at a later date, as Singapore has a tendency to grow in size over time through industrious land reclamation works.

What’s the weather like?

Upon leaving the airport, first-time visitors may be pleasantly surprised by the warmth and humidity of the Garden City. Coats aren’t necessary as temperatures range between 22 and 35 degrees throughout the year. The coolest period takes place from December to February, while the warmest falls between April and June. If it gets too warm, follow the locals and flee inside the nearest shopping centre as most have interiors maintained at a cool 20 to 22 degrees.

If you’re in Singapore to bask in the sunlight and feel the sea breeze in your hair, however, you may wish to avoid the rainy Northwest monsoon season that falls between December and January, and the Southwest monsoon season between June and September. Also, due to forest fires in Sumatra, a ‘haze season’ typically descends upon Singapore between July and August.



If you have managed to entrap an unwary Singaporean with your wily conversational skills, we heartily congratulate you, as the average Singaporean is an elusive and taciturn creature with a paralysing fear of small talk. Nevertheless, once you’ve got the conversation flowing, you’d find it easy to converse with anyone in Singapore.

English is the first language, or the language of business and administration, spoken by the people here. Most are bilingual. The second language elected is dependent on the ethnicity of the student, the most common being Mandarin Chinese, followed by Malay and Tamil.



The short answer is, you probably can’t. Unless one judges by their attire or by the way they speak, it can be difficult to come up with a one-size-fits-all description of Singaporeans.

In addition, many foreign-born citizens become permanent residents each year and are welcomed into our society as fellow Singaporeans. A sign of the growing awareness of the multiracial nature of Singaporean society is the creation of double-barrelled race classification of children with parents of different races. Instead of the stock classification of “Eurasian”, children born after 2010 may have their official racial classification listed as “Indian-Chinese” or “European-Malay” for instance.

Going back three or four generations, it is possible for the majority of the local population to trace their roots back to immigrant forefathers from regional countries. Much of the population today remains Chinese, with the Malays, Indians, Eurasians and other ethnic groups making up the balance.

When in Singapore, do as the Singaporeans do. The second part of our introduction to life here aims to provide nuggets of knowledge when it comes to the idiosyncrasies of local culture, as well as to provide a brief rundown of the many queer and wonderful things afforded by life on this sunny island.



Overlooking the Marina Bay, is perhaps Singapore’s most iconic building—the Marina Bay Sands resort—where three curved towers appear to support an elongated boat on the roof. Next to it you’d find the Art Science Museum, a building shaped like an upturned palm held out to the sky, surrounded by elegant lotus ponds. A few steps later, you’d confront 50-metre tall “supertrees” from Gardens by the Bay as they tower over you with their massive concrete and metal frames. The modern landscape of today’s Singapore creates one of the most arresting and spectacular skylines in the world.

However, this doesn’t mean that Singapore has cut off all ties with the past. A significant proportion of Asian and colonial architecture have been preserved and restored to their former pristine and beautiful glory, looking almost as though they had been built only the day before. A good example of this would be the National Gallery of Singapore which opened at the end of 2015. The building comprises of the old City Hall and the Former Supreme Court, which are both stellar examples of the classical architectural style.



In Singapore, it is common to hear this question in place of the standard ‘How are you?’ In a similar fashion, this greeting does not demand very much by way of answer other than a general affirmative. The pervasiveness of this greeting, however, is a clear indicator of the extent to which food lingers on the edges of the Singaporean consciousness.

Singaporeans take their food seriously, and many even go so far as to consider it to be an integral part of their national identity. Here, local hawker fare is feted in the annual Singapore Food Festival, and forms a major draw of the Singapore Day celebrations that are held in major cities such as London, New York and Shanghai to provide overseas Singaporeans with a taste of home. Some of the most best-loved dishes include Hainanese chicken rice, laksa noodles, and chili crab with fried buns.

Due to the ethnic diversity in Singapore, restaurants offering the local fare from every corner of the world can be easily located. At your average neighbourhood hawker centre, a slew of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Western food stalls can be found. Meals at these informal eateries are very affordable, and these days, many hawker centres are beginning to include Thai, Japanese and Korean food stalls as well. However, if fine dining is your cup of tea, then the only thing you’d have to worry about is making your reservations early enough to book a place at these exclusive establishments. The top restaurants here in Singapore are established by the biggest names in the culinary scene such as Daniel Boulud, Mario Batali, Wakuda Tetsuya, and Joël Robuchon.



The top tourist spots of the Garden City, predominated by venues boasting the loveliest gardens and conservatories, are definitely worth a visit. These include the Singapore Botanic Gardens (a famous UNESCO World Heritage Site), Gardens by the Bay, Singapore Zoo, and Sentosa Island. The last, is less than 5 minutes away from the main island, and holds a whole host of attractions such as Fort Siloso, Marine Life Park, Madame Tussauds, and Universal Studios Singapore.

Fans of the arts who are looking to appreciate the visual arts or to catch a performance in Singapore have no need to despair, as the local scene has enjoyed a steady growth over the past ten years. For music performances, the iconic Esplanade, fondly referred to as “the Durian” for its spiky architecture, has one of the most beautiful concert halls in the world, accompanied by state-of-the-art technology guaranteed to provide a superior acoustic experience. Fans of the visual arts will adore visiting the museums with their various collection foci and curatorial strategies. These would include the National Museum of Singapore, the Singapore Art Museum, the National Gallery of Singapore, and of course, the Asian Civilisations Museum.

For those who prefer eating and shopping—also considered the top two pastimes of locals—don’t fret as numerous shopping centres are often found in close proximity to MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) stations all across the island. Hop on the metro, and you could visit over ten shopping centres in a day if you wished to. The most popular Orchard shopping district can be easily reached through the Orchard, Somerset and Dhoby Ghaut MRT stations. International brands such as Zara, Uniqlo and HandM abound, but all manner of traditional wares, vintage clothing, and local designer apparel are available as well.

By Rayne Ngoi

Re: Visa for single dependent parent

FaeLLe:
Hi,

I am facing the same situation. I am eligible to bring my parents but my employer (a big bank) won't sponsor the visa. I don't know what else I can do to bring her over.

What did you eventually do? I hope you will find time to respond.

Regards,

Ravi

Ravi you can change your job to another employer who will let you bring your parents.

Re: Expenses Breakdown and Salary Suggestion - Company transfer but no expat package

JR8:
Ah no problem, lost in translation as easily happens by writing on the web. I thought you were 'slinging your hook' before you'd even got to SG ;)

p.s. And yes looking at the stock-markets this pm (EU), the doom does seem to have really set in. I try to remind myself though of the adage 'The day is darkest before the dawn'. This one has been a looong time coming though...

Maybe I Should Have Put This in the Music Thread?

Strong Eagle:


Re: Expenses Breakdown and Salary Suggestion - Company transfer but no expat package

Hatem:


Hmmm... I think everyone that has replied to you has several years experience in SG, and a couple who are way over that. So I'd take the comments 'in the round' and sense where they're guiding you.



Be careful concluding that before you've given costing out your income vs estimated expenses your absolute best shot. My first transfer was to Tokyo, and when they made me an offer with maaany zeros on the end I jumped at it, it appeared a lot of money back then. It was probably double/+ my pay back home. When I got there I witnessed the costs and was stunned - not least because my employer had pretty much screwed me. I ended that posting having lived relatively very modestly yet in debt. Don't repeat my mistake.



I hope you do. It would be interesting to hear how your current thoughts vs your experiences upon arrival compare.

Good luck tying things up with your Pass etc.
True.
I actually apologize for the previous post.
I meant it really differently - I just mean it that in the current financial clima, specially in the majority of Europe, it would be pretty silly to do not accept an offer like this due to the lack of alternatives. (London pays more for example, but it is hard to keep a certain living standard).
Despite the general understanding, it is getting harder and harder to move around and get competitive offers when you do not have even the foot in the door.

So as I mentioned many times, I am very happy for all the replies I got and I am really looking forward to get my e-pass (if will be granted...) and start my new adventure.
We will see how the things will move then :)

Re: Working in SG Banking with no diploma

sundaymorningstaple:
Unless you are earning a decent amount above the old P1 EP level (over 10K/mo. and have a decade or more of experience in the level / position you are taking up, you are likely to have a hard time unless your position is rare and very much in demand by the government.

Re: Expenses Breakdown and Salary Suggestion - Company transfer but no expat package

JR8:


Hmmm... I think everyone that has replied to you has several years experience in SG, and a couple who are way over that. So I'd take the comments 'in the round' and sense where they're guiding you.



Be careful concluding that before you've given costing out your income vs estimated expenses your absolute best shot. My first transfer was to Tokyo, and when they made me an offer with maaany zeros on the end I jumped at it, it appeared a lot of money back then. It was probably double/+ my pay back home. When I got there I witnessed the costs and was stunned - not least because my employer had pretty much screwed me. I ended that posting having lived relatively very modestly yet in debt. Don't repeat my mistake.



I hope you do. It would be interesting to hear how your current thoughts vs your experiences upon arrival compare.

Good luck tying things up with your Pass etc.

Re: Working in SG Banking with no diploma

kimura:
Seems like this isn't as simple or achievable as I first thought, which is disappointing :(

So hypothetically, for an expat with no diploma what are realistic options for employment (if any) ?

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I had a great time there so I recommand it !

Re: Expenses Breakdown and Salary Suggestion - Company transfer but no expat package

Hatem:
Everything JR8 said in the post subsequent to this is spot on.

I would add:


The larger demographic are those Westerners not on a expat package. Like many of us on this forum. I could not imagine, even if I was single, to come here for 100k.

To live and save money here on even more than that is difficult.

You do have a deflating property market in your favor.
My package is exactly 100,000SGD.
I have some bonus + commission that would put me on 115.000SGD if my team performances will hit some target.

Your comment, if I can say with a lot of respect, I think it is of a person who got pretty much disconnected from the reality.
The European job market is stagnated, and there are only few economies that can provide a very good standard of living for the salary they pay. An example would be Poland, for example.
The issue is that is is extremely hard to go over 2.000 month of income (net).
Singapore would guarantee me a pretty good standard of living with a bigger salary and the possibility to put much more money aside.

For the job I do, and for the type of contract I will have, I could have probably ended up with 10-15% more but that's it.
I speak often with people who tell me that they would not move for less than X, but if my job pays 100.000, it pays 100.

However, I never lived in Singapore, and now I am waiting to see if my ePass will be approved.
My scholastic background is very poor, but my company claim that considering that I am working for the firm already, it should not be too much of a problem.
The day I will move, after few months, I will probably get back with better estimation.

Re: Working in SG Banking with no diploma

PNGMK:


I work for a regional bank (Bankwest) that is owned by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (which has one branch in SG but no vacancies as far as I know).

I might add that most of my expat banker contacts in ANZ (and hence presumably other fields) have been transferred home and replaced with Aussie accented Flips... Another avenue _might_ be private/wealth banking. They seem to chase a certain style of person (presentation, panache, acumen) that perhaps you have?

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nakatago:
There were instances of unmarried couples/de facto couples getting the other on DPs. The key is having your home government(s) recognize that relationship. It's no guarantee though since the last instance I know that happened was many unpublished policy changes ago.