There are basically two housing types in Singapore, Public and Private.
Public housing is developed by the Housing Development Board (HDB) and is partially subsidised by the government. Up to 85 percent of Singapore residents live in public housing since it is more affordable than private housing.
Public Housing, more commonly known as HDB flats, do not come with private facilities available in some condominiums and private apartments for example, swimming pools, gymnasiums or private security.
As a foreigner,You are not able to rent a flat directly from HDB, since HDB only provides subsidies rental flats to low income Singaporeans, however, selected HDB owners are allowed to rent out their flats after their Minimum Occupation Period and you may rent these flats in a Private Agreement with them. You may look for available listings of rooms or entire flats for rent in advertisements appearing in the Classified Ads (CATS) in the Straits Times, in online portals such as PropertyGuru, 99.co, SRX as well as STProperty.
HDB flat owners do not need approval from HDB to rent out individual rooms in their flat but they need to register with HDB within 7 days and satisfy certain conditions, including submitting the tenants’ particulars . Owners leasing out their entire flat require written approval from HDB. If you are renting an entire flat, you may request the flat owner show you a copy of the approval letter.
Please visit www.hdb.gov.sg for more information on renting HDB flats.
Private housing In Singapore offers a wider, albeit more expensive choice of accommodation, from condominiums and private apartments to landed properties like detached bungalows, semi-detached and terrace (row) houses.
Condominiums come with a security guard and facilities, while detatched bungalows ( Semi-ds), etc, typically do not have additional security but give you the advantage of space. ( Landed homes are typically 3000sqft and above. )
(Note to MOM: Foreigners should also comply with existing URA regulations when renting a flat. For example, there should not be more than eight persons staying in each unit. Please check with URA for more info.)
Leasing a Property
Once you have selected a property, one of the things to do is to verify the landlord’s authenticity. It is also a good idea to include your ‘wish list’ of the various items you wish to be addressed in the lease in the Letter of Intent (LOI) which expresses your interest in the property. On signing the Letter of Intent/ Offer, you will be required to pay a holding deposit equivalent to 1 month’s rent to the landlord.This holding deposit will go into your first month’s rent on entering into the Tenancy Agreement. Rent in Singapore is paid in advance.
The LOI will ensure that the property will be taken off the market while you negotiate the clauses in main Tenancy Agreement. Read through and check with your lawyers if you are not satisfied with certain clauses.
You should read the terms and conditions in the Tenancy Agreement carefully before signing so as to reduce potential disputes. You may also negotiate the terms and conditions with your Salesperson.
There are prescribed Estate Agency Agreements that you can use for your property transaction. The form can be downloaded from the CEA website. The “Consumer Tips for engaging a real estate salesperson” also contain useful information for your reference when engaging a salesperson to rent a property.
On finalising the terms of the Tenancy Agreement and during the handover of the property, check that all your ‘wish list’ items have been addressed. During the handover, do make a point to document any defects you may find at the property.
As the tenant, you are required to pay a security deposit equivalent to the number of year(s) leased. The normal practice is 1 month for every year leased. This security deposit is refundable at the end of the lease subject to the condition in which the property is returned to the landlord. As the tenant, you are also required to pay the Stamp Fees to legalise the tenancy agreement.
After the handover of the property, you will need to pay your Estate Agent the agreed commission. Commissions should not be paid to your Salesperson directly.