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: Singapore food - generally very poor quality


Or in the topic... where I see you've posted before. That topic was started with the idea that food that stands out can be elusive to find. Hence a place to share tips and suggestions...


aah I forgot about that thread, thanks for reminding me.

Re: Driving Singapore registered rental car into Malaysia

Thanks everyone for your replies, appreciated. I haven't yet decided whether to rent in JB (rental company said they will come and pick up from Malaysia side of checkpoint) or Changi (easy MRT ride but they haven't responded yet about whether their CDW/theft insurance covers Malaysia). Meanwhile, a few useful links I found to add to the info from others above:

1. Overview info from LTA website ... apore.html

2. ... icles.html
- Singapore side toll fees paid in several ways per link above (cash payment incurs $10 admin fee)
- Malaysia side toll fees can be paid in cash or Touch nGo (purchased or topped up with RM next to immigration counter)

3. Current toll fees (Causeway and Tuas; Singapore and Malaysia) ... ay-vs.html

4. General info relevant to driving rental or foreign registered cars in Singapore

Do continue to post any additional suggestions on this thread, and I'll do the same once my trip is complete. Thanks :)

Re: F/25 Russian - Looking 4 new friends

Indian Culture? I think it died about 300 years ago.

Re: National Service Deferment Procedure in Singapore.

That would mean there have been a total of 119+ million Citizens and PR here in the last 50 years. I'd say that would be a stretch. Assuming, just for grins, there were 1M citizens here in 1965 and there were an average of 35,000 births per year and 35,000 new PRs per year for the past 50 years that would be 75,000 x 50 years or 3.75M + 1M originally here so that would be under 5 million here (current population is what? 3.5M citizens and PRs? the 7 digit NRIC plus the A-L suffixs would make 119M unique NRIC numbers available. I reckon you and I will have to stick around till 2015 to see, yeah? ;-)

I grant you, though, with the numbering system having meaning, there would be considerable numbers available once they run through the numbering sequence that are used for the markers to pigeon-hole each person based on race, religion, DoB, Year of citizenship or year of PR. and who knows what else is in that number.

Re: Next GE predictions?

Also I guess, none of you have missed the irony, Putin, inspite of what he has inflicted on his people is the darling of his nation and here we such a prosperous city and yet it gahmen is having sleepness nights. What an ungrateful bunch of people we have here.

Re: Shoplifting record few years back can apply Spass?

thanks for your opinion i no need to post it to MOM, but i am looking for helpful advise which can help me. :(

Next GE predictions?

Since the GE is coming up next year or the year after, what do you guys think is the result going to be?
I just read this article on Yahoo: ... 51077.html

Whats really troubling, is this site is not TRE, it is Yahoo a more general news website that all kinds of Singaporeans read and not just trolls and xenophobes. But if you read the comments section, it really scary. Theres not one supportive comment for the gahmen. Its as if you still reading TRE.

The last 2 by-elections result too dont offer much hope, so its not like they are just trolling online.

Re: F/25 Russian - Looking 4 new friends


What exactly you want to hear?
He is a great leader. I am proud of my country and of its face on the international scene.

Re: Basketball - Recreation/Competitive

Just moved to SG, we're on the east coast, Katong area. Used to play point guard in a league for years as well as outdoor court pickup games. Would love to play a few hours a week here!

I'll be checking the suggestions posted above but let me know (pm) if anyone has something organized,

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Re: Singapore food - generally very poor quality


Or in the topic... where I see you've posted before. That topic was started with the idea that food that stands out can be elusive to find. Hence a place to share tips and suggestions...


Re: Shoplifting record few years back can apply Spass?


The problem is simple... she has a criminal record of theft and is trying to get a job in the finance or accounting industry. Even MOM aren't thick enough to give her a pass with that background. OP - do you declare this conviction on your job applications? You should be; any decent MNC will turn it up in a background check.

Re: Driving Singapore registered rental car into Malaysia


You need the Malaysian toll card - I'm not sure where I bought mine - it might have been in the immigration complex- put at least RM100 on it if you're driving to KL and back.

Yes, but definitely bring Ringgit. I was robbed with a 1:1 SGD:MYR exchange rate when I bought mine there with SGD. There is no early point (except back in Singapore) to exchange your currency.

Ah good point.

Re: Uber

Rape incident is in India not USA. Singapore taxi drivers do not insure the passengers as well. Flout the law? How so?

Then again, I guess it's personal preference. ... lt-charges

That's Boston, Massachusetts (USA) not Boston, Maharashtra.

Whatever, Uber cannot guarantee anything... whereas in Singapore if a Taxi driver tries to rape me, mugs me, absconds with my money, abuses me by taking a long cut etc.... I can complain to LTA. Uber will just fob me off.

Re: F/25 Russian - Looking 4 new friends

Tell us about Mr Putin?

Re: ICA ask for document

Hi All,

My PR application summited on March, is been pending for 9months, now ICA ask me to submit letter from employer about my designation, first date to join and some detail, but the problem is if I ask my company to help to write a letter, they want me to tie with contract , which I do not want to do that, ICA do considerate with my self explanation letter why I can't provide the letter? I just wondering if I wrote explanation letter, will bring down my chances ?

Too bad, I guess you'll just have to go home or accept the contract.