Singapore Houses for Rent
What to Expect
Finding Singapore houses for rent shouldn't a major problem - the market is fairly dynamic and new properties open up regularly.
In very general terms, most Singaporeans live in HDB flats - subsidized housing run by the Housing Development Board.
You'll see theses estates all over the island and all over the news - the prices are a major concern for citizens.
A typical HDB estate will have a number of block buildings around a common area with a community and hawker centers, markets, shops and medical offices.
The rest of the population - about 10% - lives either in condo towers, or various types of detached and semi-detached houses.
Your typical condo community will be a gated complex. Don't expect any Navy SEALs guarding the place, though.
These condos almost always have a common area and pool, BBQ pits, a gym, a function room, and maybe even a sauna.
Yes, a sauna. Plenty of those around in fact.
Some may have squash and tennis courts, a small soccer field, a playground or a running track.
These communities will have management and ground keepers on site to take care of everything.
It is probably the most convenient way of living in Singapore. Add a domestic helper and you'll have to start thinking about what to do with yourself at some point.
Just like cars, Singapore houses and rent will be a major budget item.
Rents vary, of course, like everywhere else.
They can range from $2,000-3,000 for an HDB flat to $5,000-6,000 for a 3-bedroom condo.
3 bedroom houses for rent can start at $6,000 and run to $15,000.
If you hit the high end, go up to $35-50,000.
Yeah, that's steep.
Singapore Houses and Districts
Singapore real estate companies have divided the island up into 28 districts and when you talk to them, they will almost always ask you in which district you are looking to live.
Check this site, Propertyhub.com.sg, for an overview of these districts, abbreviated as 'D'.
A lot of foreigners tend to live in
- D11: Bukit Timah, Newton and Chanceryarea because of the international schools and prestigious local colleges
- D9+10: Oxley, Killeney, Grange, Holland, Balmoral, Orchard, Tanglin and River Valley due to the central shopping locations, embassies, malls and proximity to the CBD
- D21+23:Bukit Batok,Upper Bukit Timah, Boon Lay, Clementi and Jurong for the universities and business parks
- D15+16: Katong, Marine Parade, Siglap, Tanjong Rhu, Upper East Coast, Bayshore, Bedok and Chai Chee for the proximity to the airport, East Coast Park and the sea views from the condos there.
Where and How to Start Looking
To find Singapore houses, check these two sites to get a feeling for the market.
Singapore houses for rent - Property Guru
More Singapore houses - iProperty
Agents - Plenty of Them and Eager to Please
Real Estate agents are plentiful in Singapore and competition is sturdy.
We simply called the agents listed by the houses and arranged for viewings, often within the day.
One House - Many Agents
When you search online for Singapore houses, you'll find dozens of listings.
Beware: most owners will actually give the property to 3, sometimes 5 or 6 agents, and they will all give the same property a different spin and a separate listing in the websites.
Fees and Negotiations
Landlords usually pay the agents a fee of one month's rent per year of contract (so a two-year contract will net the agent two months' rent worth of commission).
This means that listings will often be priced high. That leaves plenty of room for negotiating downwards.
Negotiating and Closing - Letter of Intent and Contract
Once you find one or two houses that you like, you make an offer in the form of a Letter of Intent.
Don't underestimate the LOI!
It more than just an 'intent' because you accompany it with a check for the first month's rent. If the owner accepts, he cashes the check and that house is yours.
In the LOI, you should put in everything you need included.
This could be repainting, additions, washers, dryers, things to be removed, maybe garden services or pool cleaning, curtains, new aircons - most anything can be asked.
Most landlords will be open to most demands, so feel free to try. They get a bit cranky, though, if you want whole walls removed or the garden paved.
Security Deposit and Stamping Fee
After the LOI, the agent will draw up a standard contract.
Once you sign the contract, a deposit of two months's rent is due as a security.
That is reimbursed at the end of the lease, but can be a headache if you have left the house a big mess.
You will also pay a stamping fee of a few hundred dollars.
This is a government seal of approval and ensures that the landlord is actually and really the landlord and owner and everything is in order with taxes, liens, etc.
People gripe about this fee, but, no way around it, anyways.
The normal lease time for Singapore houses is two years (negotiable)and the document includes typical things like
- duration of lease
- rental payment procedures
- inclusions and exclusions from the LOI
- no-no's like mixing dangerous chemicals, harboring terrorists or building explosives
- a clause for regular air con servicing
and the infamous
Diplomatic Clause and Minor Repairs Clause
These two clauses are really important to have.
The Diplomatic Clause lets you get out of the contract before the end of the term if you are sent back home, after 12 months stay AND with two months' notice.
Make sure this is included since landlords can expect payment of the full term if you leave early.
The Minor Repair Clause is often set pretty high, at SGD 250 and is supposed to cover light bulbs, etc.
In fact, though, light bulbs are not really the problem. More likely, you will need to change a faucet, a squeaky door or a window pane.
That can lead to a feeling of renovating the place by increments. Here, it is best to negotiate down to SGD 100-150.
Our Experience with Singapore Houses and Agents
Take your time - if you can - to find houses for rent. In no case let the agent rush you.