Tenant’s guide: How to rent a condominium unit/ room in Singapore

how to rent a condo in singapore - tenancy agreement, rental stamp duty, security deposit

Whether you’re a local, an expat or a foreign student, renting your own place in Singapore is a huge commitment. But also an extremely empowering one if you find your dream rental!

And if your dream place to live in Singapore is one that connects you to facilities like a gym, spa pools and even concierge services, you’ll definitely want to be looking at condos for rent.

Condos for rent could be advertised by a property agent or a direct owner (yes, even owners are DIY-ing it), but either way, you can still go through the tenant renting process without engaging a professional.

We’ve put together a guide to bring you through how to rent a condo on your own in Singapore, whether you’re looking for a room or an entire unit:

How to rent a condo in Singapore on your own?

  1. Search for condos for rent
  2. Ensure you’re getting the best rental rate
  3. View the condo (and the neighborhood!)
  4. Draft a Letter of Intent (LOI) and pay the Good Faith Deposit
  5. Sign the Tenancy Agreement
  6. Pay the Rental Stamp Duty
  7. Do an inventory check
  8. You’re ready to move in!

how to rent a condo in singapore - tenancy agreement, rental stamp duty, security deposit

Ok, before you start, step 0 is to make sure you’re eligible to rent in Singapore.

You have to be either:

  • a Singapore Citizen
  • a Singapore Permanent Resident
  • a non-citizen legally residing in Singapore possessing either an Employment Pass, S Pass, Work Permit, Student Pass, Dependent Pass or Long Term Social Visit Pass

That’s quite a mouthful, but basically, that’s almost everyone except tourists. (Sorry, tourists!)

Also, note that unless you’re all family members, there can only be a maximum number of 6 occupants in a condo unit (inclusive of other tenants and/ or the landlord, if you’re renting a room).

1. Search for condos for rent in Singapore

To make your search easier, we’d recommend that you to create a list of your needs and wants for your new home:

  • Location: Must it be near the MRT station? If it’s not, is there a bus that’ll take you directly there? How long will it take to get to your workplace or to town?
  • Home features: Is there air-conditioning? Is it fully furnished? Also, “fully furnished” might mean a bed, a wardrobe and a workstation; you might find that you personally need more furniture like extra storage, a full length mirror, a dresser table, etc.
  • Condo facilities: Some condo gyms are open 24/7, while others close at 10pm or 11pm. What about play areas for the kids? In general, renting a condo costs more than renting a HDB flat, so what will give you your money’s worth?

Now that you’ve got a clearer idea of what you’re looking for, let the search begin!

Looking on Carousell? Apply the various filters to easily optimize your search for condos for rent in Singapore:

condos for rent in singapore carousell

2. Ensure you’re getting the best rental rate

Of course, budget is a big part of renting, since it’s going to be huge monthly expense. Consider these tips to keep your rental fees as low as possible:

Know the market rate

Find out how much rent you’re paying as compared to other tenants, so you know that you’re not being overcharged.

Enter this Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) e-service, which keeps a record of all condo rental contracts in Singapore:

ura urban redevelopment authority condo rental singapore

URA has segmented them according to project names or postal district. In just a few clicks, you can easily find out what the market rate is. So if the condo rental you’re eyeing is asking for much more than average, you could use these nuggets of information as bargaining chips.

Consider being slightly (just slightly!) flexible about location

After all, Singapore’s not that big – and everything’s interconnected! So you might find a cheaper or more suitable rental by expanding your search radius.

For instance, 3-room condo units in Villa Marina in Siglap were rented out for an average of $3,270 in 2019. A 10-minute walk away (albeit further off the main road), a similar-sized 3-room condo unit in Park East goes for an average of only $2,875.

But if that’s something you can live with (or live in…), you could be saving an entire $400 a month.

Commit to a longer lease term

Rental leases most typically last for a year, although it can vary anywhere from as short as 3 months to years at a go. Most landlords would prefer a longer lease to minimise the need to look for new tenants, so if you’re able to commit to a lease term of say 2 to 3 years, you could use that as a negotiation point to request for cheaper rent.

Read more: These are the Cheapest Resale Condos Sold in Singapore in this 2019 »

3. View the condo (and the neighborhood!)

One of the most exciting parts of the rental process: Viewing your potential new homes in real life!

When you contact the landlord or agent to arrange a viewing, some of the common questions you’ll be asked include:

  • Your personal particulars (nationality, age, occupation, etc)
  • Your intended rental start date and lease period (note that the legal minimum rental period is 3 months)
  • Why you’re planning to move

Once you’re in the apartment, try envisioning yourself living there. Take your time to observe and raise any concerns to the landlord or agent.

This is also when you can go into the finer details like whether you’re allowed to cook (and if there are already kitchen condiments, are you allowed to use them or do you have to get your own?). These might be seemingly small concerns, but could be the deciding factor especially if you’re viewing multiple houses to find the best fit.

If you’re renting a condo room, hopefully, this is also your chance to meet the people you could potentially be living with! A tip: Some landlords in Singapore buy a condo unit to rent out individual rooms. In this case, there might be fellow tenants moving out and new tenants moving in over the course of your lease, and you’ve got to be comfortable with that. Otherwise, try searching for listings where it’s a live-in landlord renting out just one spare room, so you know for sure who you’ll be living with.

At this point, you can also negotiate the rental price. It’s worth a try, even if it’s already within your budget.

Do also have a look around the condo’s neighbourhood, and take note of important landmarks or amenities such as the nearest bus stop or 24-hour convenience stores. (Sometimes, maggi cravings strike at 2am. No shame in that!)

4. Draft a Letter of Intent (LOI) and pay the Good Faith Deposit

Once you’re certain of your new resting nest, it’s time to chope the place by drafting a Letter of Intent (LOI), a document that states your interest in renting.

Be sure to include all terms and conditions discussed in the LOI, especially if you’ve negotiated for any extra stuff, such as additional furniture to be provided or whether guests are allowed.

Here’s a Letter of Intent template to refer to – this will serve as a reference for the Tenancy Agreement, the official document to seal the deal (More on this in a bit!).

Substantiate the LOI with a Good Faith Deposit, usually a month’s worth of rent. This sum can be used as your first month’s rental or as a security deposit once everything is legit done-deal.

This also means your landlord should not be offering their home for rent to anyone else. The Good Faith Deposit acts as a reservation fee of sorts!

Note that if you decide to back out before signing the official Tenancy Agreement, your landlord will be entitled to keep your deposit, so make sure you’ve considered carefully!

5. Sign the Tenancy Agreement

A Tenancy Agreement is a detailed, binding contract between the landlord and the tenant – i.e. you!

This should be provided by your landlord, but of course, you should still practice the due diligence to make sure all of the lease details are as agreed before you sign on the dotted line.

The Tenancy Agreement should look something like this, detailing both you and your landlord’s particulars, the mode and frequency of payments, and all the nitty-gritty:

tenancy agreement for renting in singapore - example

Read more: Tenancy Agreements: Clauses You Should Know About When Renting in Singapore »

6. Pay the Rental Stamp Duty

You’ll also have to pay the rental stamp duty within 14 days of signing the Tenancy Agreement (or within 30 days if the document is signed overseas).

The rental stamp duty is 0.4% of your total rent across the lease period.

For instance, if you’re renting a condo room for $1,000 for a period of 12 months, the rental stamp duty payable would be $1,000 x 12 x 0.4% = $48.

You can do so on the IRAS e-Stamping portal, or do it in person at any of the Service Bureaus all around Singapore.

Tip: If you renew or extend your lease, you’ll need to pay the relevant rental stamp duty again.

7. Do an inventory check

Upon your collection of the keys, make sure that you conduct an inventory check around your new home before making yourself comfortable.

This is an important step in protecting your security deposit!

If your landlord doesn’t provide an inventory checklist, draft one up and document every item in the property. Do also remember to snap a photo of the defects so the landlord can’t hold you responsible for damages you didn’t cause.

Tip: Include even small accent furniture like cushions!

8. And finally… You’re ready to move in!

More tips…

If you’ve rented a condo unit (instead of a room), you might have to set up utilities for your home.

Start by setting up an account with SP Services, which deals with all of your basic utilities: electricity, water and gas. (Here’s a comprehensive guide!)

Your new rental home

With that said, home sweet home!

Even without a property agent, finding a rental property to call home in Singapore is just a couple of steps away. Time to start home-hunting on Carousell!

cheap hdb flats and condos for rent in singapore


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