Guides for Expats

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: PR REP Renewal

Thanks for the update, TheRobot. And thanks for the re-confirmation on requirements. ;-) I'm sure there are readers with that same scenario out there, lurking. Cheers and congrats.

Re: On – Line booking system and Travel Agent License

I'm sorry if I made you think wrong about my question. I ask for advice to find out a legal way only. One way I know. Maybe someone has experience in this area?

Re: PR REP Renewal

Sharing my outcome for anyone else who may have the same questions:

I renewed my REP in late December 2014. was correct. It doesn't matter how much you earned before and how much you earn now. As long as you are (1) Living in Singapore (2) Earning an income from Singapore (to be proved by your income tax notice(s) of assessment), your REP will be renewed for 5 years.

Re: PR parents - my wife is giving birth to a son

Yes I do have a son PNGMK.
My questions were just to gain clarity, not to try and avoid my son's duties. Leaving Singapore in order to avoid Military duty is not an option for us. In any case I agree with SMS first response. Let him do the service and do not burn any bridges. If we are still here in 10 years time, he will join all his friends in service.
I know many long term PR who's boys have completed service. It was not an issue for them.

Anyway I didn't mean to hijack wwww's thread....

Re: Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

Before deducting anything from rent better check your TA first. Most of them have a clause that deducting anything from the rent is not allowed so if you do it, it would be the case of the rent not paid in full and likely, by the virtue of another common clause, the LL may kick you out from the flat at her/his will after 7 days or so. You probably don't want to put yourself in this position.

If you really want to do it right, do it this way:
1) document the defects
2) send a demanding letter (detailed list of what should be repaired, traditional slow mail, registered, advice of receipt) and give the LL say, 2-4 weeks to fix the issues.
3) if nothing is done, sue him at the SCT (don't worry, it's cheap), demand the right to repair it arranging by yourself and deducting it from the rent, or even better have already quotations from 2-3 contractors and demand the quoted amount to be deducted.

Re: Is life in Singapore more relaxing than in London?

Nah, just all of them in general. I find lots of things here good quality though.

Re: Is life in Singapore more relaxing than in London?

Not sure if that was in response to my post, which was about the cost and quality of Asian food here with say, Thailand or Japan.

Re: 26 / M / UK Looking to meet new people

Tom -

Didn't see your post until after the meet up on Wed. Anyway, I am interested in future after work drinks. Hopefully another can be set up in the next couple weeks. I'll send you an email.

Re: On – Line booking system and Travel Agent License

Surely you are not asking this astute forum for ways to circumvent the laws of Singapore are you? We don't do that here.


On – Line booking system and Travel Agent License

Dear All!
I really need your advice.
I have a company in Singapore. Business subjects: Business consulting and E – Commerce applications.
We plan to create a website (on - line booking system) in the style same as existing websites and registered companies in Singapore (example agoda (dot) com). We planning scheme as Client - > Web Site ->Hotel. I mean, client on our website can book a hotel, client on our website can pay for a hotel (important payment from the customer must come to our company bank acc; we will pay for services of hotel - minus our commission).
What are the conditions we must keep that we would not have to be required for travel agent license (TAL)?
Maybe you know another way to avoid not really necessary for us now TAL?
For us now is not really best time to have additional expenses for licensing ... maybe in the future.
I hope for your help us with advice.

Re: No more public drinking and retail of alcohol post 10.30

I honestly don't see it as major issue. Let's face it - LKY got rid of the wild side of Sgp a long time ago (and then had the adaucity to mention 'al fresco eating and dining' something like 5 times in a speech probably not realising that the Italian style of eating was a reflection of well, Italy and it's freedoms).

Re: PR parents - my wife is giving birth to a son

I had always understood that children (boys) of PR parents are required to do military service.
Am I wrong?
Is it only if the child is PR in his own right?

Pretty much yes. it the boy is a PR. If he is not a PR then all that SMS says above may apply if an LTVP applies. IF you have a son and then leave Singapore ASAP and don't renew your REP (i.e. cancel PR) there are not likely to be long term issues IMO.

Re: Is life in Singapore more relaxing than in London?

I'm really curious wherein the US you can get better Asian food than Asia, unless people mistakingly mean "Asian style food with western ingredients." I think this is a case of being used to the first way you tried it, and disappointed when you come here in real life it's not the same as it was back home.

I've also never been quoted a price anywhere pre-GST except Sim Lim Sq for shady grey market electronics.

Re: making new friends! TAKE A LOOK.

hi, my name is yiran, me and my husband are looking for some new friends to chillout.
i am Chinese and he is german, we have lived in Singapore for about 3years, we like watching movie, go out have a drink at club street, or simply bbq at home. we live around harbourfrot,it is a pretty nice area, but sometime we feel a bit lonely, cause most of our friends are back to Germany already, so we figure maybe its time to make new friends. he is an engineer so don't really have much friends form outside work, and i just finished my university and my major is performing arts management.
do contact me if you also looking for some new friends, as long as you can speak english , lol or german.
here is my email,
hope to hear form you soon.

Joint a church?

Re: Australian in Singapore with US

Are you planning to reside in the Us or singapore?

If you can stay in the Us for 3-4 months and live near a USCIS office, just travel as a visa-free tourist and apply for an adjustment of status to PR (greencard) once there ~60 days.

Once you have pr, you can apply for citizenship in 2y 9 months. You're supposed to be resident in the Us during that time but there isn't any way to really prove it as long as you lay your taxes and don't claim he earned income exclusion. And honestly as long as you pay your full taxes that is probably all they care about.

I'm trying to remove the residency issue altogether by progressing to USC status ASAP and working where I need to while paying tax/SS. I'd almost agree with you except that I'd be outside far more than inside the US and I suspect CBP wil pick it up.