Once upon a time, owning your own home in Singapore is a realistic aspiration. Unfortunately, no thanks to the red-hot property market in recent years, sky-high home prices have made it unaffordable for many. The rental market in Singapore has thus enjoyed a boom due to changing home ownership trends.
These days, it is increasingly common to find local couples renting in Singapore. Most rent an apartment or room while waiting for their new build-to-order (BTO) HDB flats, or even singles who have embraced the idea of freedom from staying with their parents to seek a new ‘home’ to call their own. If you’re considering renting, you should familiarise yourself with some basics of the rental market in Singapore before searching for your dream place.
Price of Rental
Price of rental can vary widely depending on location and the type of housing you choose. Renting a room in a public housing (HDB) versus a private (eg. condominium) one can vary by two to three times the rent. For example, rental price for a HDB room can vary between $400 to $1000, with the latter price usually seen for the ones in close proximity to the CBD or town area. If you are looking to rent an entire HDB flat, prices will depend on the number of rooms within, as well as the location and proximity to public transport. Rental for a whole flat can range between $1,500 to $3,000.
For condominiums, room price starts from $1,200 and go up to $3,000 for a central location in a new apartment with fancy facilities, such as swimming pools, gymnasium and sauna facilities. Similar to HDBs, prices for renting the entire apartment ranges widely, from about $2,600 for a small studio apartment up to a neat 5-figure sum for a penthouse.
You should consider the following factors before you rent:
- Your priority – location, facilities, privacy,
- Do you want to rent a whole apartment or just one room?
- Lease term
By thinking through these four criteria, it should help you to narrow your search, especially now that you can apply multiple filters on the numerous property search engines online.
While we do not want to bore you with legal terms regarding a rental contract, there are generally 3 key factors you need to look out for:
- Diplomatic or Repatriate Clause
The clause is a safeguard for foreigners in the event that one is no longer employed or is relocated during the lease period. You can terminate the lease after a year by giving 2 months’ notice under this safety clause. The standard lease period here in Singapore is 2 years and do note that most landlords will only include the diplomatic clause if the lease lasts more than a year.
- Rental Clause
The rental clause basically lists all the items related to your lease. This includes the length of the lease and any kind of payments you need to make during this period. To sum it up briefly, these includes:
- Term of lease and termination clauses
- Rental payment + any utility charges
- Property inventory
- Any maintenance or repair fees for items within the apartment/your room
The common practice here is to provide a 1-month deposit for a 1-year lease and 2 months’ deposit for a 2-year lease. Utilities can either be shared between you and your housemates or provided for by the main tenant. Regarding condominium maintenance charges, the norm is for the landlord to bear the costs.
- Rental Legality
Many foreigners may not know that HDB owners are only allowed to sublet their entire flat after a minimum 5 years occupancy. Some owners try to go around this clause by locking up one of their room doors to consider it “occupied” by them. As a tenant, you can request for the letter of eligibility to sublet the flat from the owner.
If you are looking to rent in Singapore on a short term basis without a work pass, do note that you are not legally allowed to rent an HDB room for less than 6 months.
Some home owners may not be familiar with these rules, so if you are unsure and do not want to get into trouble, it might be better to engage a real estate agent who will be able to give you advice on your tenancy agreement.
Find out where we are in the Singapore Housing Cycle.
If you are curious on what to expect, the complicated rules, or wondering which type of property you should purchase, keep checking back on our Property section!
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