Tenant’s guide: How to rent a HDB flat/ room in Singapore

how to rent hdb in singapore - cheap hdb rooms for rent in singapore

Whether you’re a young adult moving out for the first time or a new-to-Singapore expat searching for an affordable place to stay, the biggest problem you’re facing is probably that…

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Glad you landed on this article! We’ve put together a handy step-by-step guide, covering both the very basics and the little-known hacks, to make your renting journey smoother.

How to rent a HDB flat/room on your own?

Searching for and viewing HDB flats for rent
1. How to search for HDB flats for rent
2. How to get the best rental rate
3. Eligibility and restrictions
4. Viewing the HDB flat and visiting the neighborhood

Securing your rental flat
5. Draft a Letter of Intent (LOI) and pay the Good Faith Deposit
6. Sign the Tenancy Agreement (TA)
7. Pay the rental stamp duty

Before moving in
8. Conduct an inventory check

Special rental schemes to save you money
9. Public Rental Scheme
10. Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS)

how to rent hdb in singapore - tenancy agreement, security deposit, cheapest hdb rental

Searching for and viewing HDB flats for rent

1. How to search for HDB flats for rent

Getting started is always the hardest, especially when you’ve got so many options out there that you simply don’t know where to begin.

The first option: Engage an agent. The obvious pro to this is having a qualified professional to shortlist the most suitable properties according to your requirements and arrange viewings.


Read more: 6 Things to Look Out For When Engaging Your First Property Agent »

That said, more and more direct owners are also listing their homes for rent on platforms like Carousell – meaning to say, they don’t have property agents representing them, and you’ll have to do the searching yourself. But hey, finding a gem takes a little bit of effort!

affordable hdb flats for rent carousell

2. How to get the best rental rate

It’s important that you look for a property that’s priced not just within your budget, but also comparable to the competitive market rate.

hdb rental price rate singapore
(source: HDB)


Read more: HDB Rental Median Prices 2018: The Cheapest HDBs to Rent in Singapore »

To get a good picture of what rental rates should be, HDB provides a quarterly statistical report on median rents by location and HDB flat size; or, you can even search for recent rental rates of individual HDB flats by block number.

Tip: Generally speaking, it’s recommended that you spend no more than 30 per cent of your income on housing.

Keep in mind that this includes utilities, so if the rental price stated doesn’t include bills, factor in an estimated cost into your budget.

For instance, switching on the air-conditioning in your room every night could amount to something like $100 a month, whereas switching on the fan would only cost you $5 a month.

3. Eligibility and restrictions

This should ideally be your prospective landlord’s responsibility, but it’s also good to know this so you don’t end up wasting time searching for a place, only to realise you’re not eligible to rent!

Eligibility

There’s a non-citizen quota for each HDB estate (even for rentals!).

This won’t be a concern if you’re a Singapore Citizen, Permanent Resident or Malaysian; but if you’re a non-Malaysian non-citizen, get your landlord to check via HDB’s e-service that the quota hasn’t been hit.

The only exceptions for Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents and Malaysians:

  1. If you already own a HDB flat, you’re only eligible if you’ve already rented out your own flat/ rent out your flat within a month after you rent a HDB flat from another flat owner.
  2. If you are divorced or legally separated. In this case, only 1 party is eligible to rent.

Restrictions

There’s a maximum number of occupants (counting both tenants AND landlords) allowed in a single HDB flat, whether you’re renting the entire flat or just a bedroom:

Renting an entire HDB flat:

maximum number of tenants in hdb flat singapore guide

Renting a bedroom in an HDB flat:

maximum number of tenants in hdb flat - guide for renting out hdb room singapore

4. Viewing the HDB flat and visiting the neighborhood

Love the flat? Be sure to also check out the neighborhood. With HDB flats in particular, you’ll find that each estate sports a very unique character of its own.

Take for instance Punggol: The wave of new BTO flats in this non-mature estate means it’s populated with lots of young couples and new families. Expect the area to be particularly lively, and Waterway Point’s function room to host some kid’s birthday party every other week (baby-haters, abort mission NOW).

Securing your rental flat

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

Once you’ve decided on The One, it’s time for the more technical, legal bits.

As a way of chope-ing the HDB unit you wish to rent, you’ll have to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI), a formal letter that stipulates your interest in renting, and pay a Good Faith Deposit.

If you’ve agreed on any additional terms – for instance, to allow visitors on weekends, or if you’ve negotiated the rental rate down – it’s good practice to include this in your LOI.

This will serve as a reference when you and your landlord draft the Tenancy Agreement (More on this in a bit!).

The Good Faith Deposit is usually one month’s worth of rent, and will be used to pay your first month of rent or kept as a security deposit once you formally sign the actual Tenancy Agreement.

Make sure you’re serious about renting, though – if you back out after paying the deposit, the landlord is entitled to keep the money.

6. Sign the Tenancy Agreement

The Tenancy Agreement should contain the landlord’s particulars, your particulars, as well as all of the lease details (even the little details, such as whether cooking is allowed).


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

This should be provided by your landlord, but of course, the lease details should be mutually agreed upon before you sign on the dotted line.

Check that the Tenancy Agreement also contains all of the additional terms agreed upon and included in your Letter of Intent.

Tip: The minimum lease term for a rental HDB flat is 6 months, while the maximum lease term is 3 years if all the tenants are Singaporeans, Permanent Residents or Malaysians, or 2 years if any of the tenants are non-Malaysian non-citizens.

(Non-Malaysian foreigners were previously only allowed a maximum lease term of 1.5 years, but this was extended to 2 years beginning 2019.)

Joint tenancy vs separate tenancies

Another thing to note is the type of Tenancy Agreement you should be signing: You can either opt for a Joint Tenancy, or sign separate tenancies.

A Joint Tenancy means all of you are equally responsible for paying the rent and keeping to the terms of your agreement. Which means if your housemate ends up not paying the rent or destroying the house, you could end up having to shoulder the costs.

On the other hand, if each of you signs a separate Tenancy Agreement, you’re only responsible for your own use of HDB flat as well as your own rental expenses. Basically:

rent hdb flat singapore tenancy not my problem meme

Your Tenancy Agreement should look something like this:

7. Pay the rental stamp duty

The rental stamp duty is a tax on the TA, and is the equivalent of 0.4% of the total rent across your lease period.

For instance, if your rent is $2,000 per month for a lease period of a year, the payable rental stamp duty will be:
$2,000 x 12 x 0.4% = $96

You should pay the rental stamp duty via the IRAS website or at any Service Bureau within 14 days of signing the Tenancy Agreement, or you’ll incur a penalty.

Before moving in

8. Conduct an inventory check

Before moving in, you’ll get the chance to inspect the property and conduct a inventory check.

If your landlord doesn’t provide an inventory checklist, draft one up together with him/her, and document everything that’s provided with the property, from big-ticket furniture right down to how many sets of cutlery there are in the kitchen drawer.

Also record the condition that everything is in, especially if there’s existing damage or signs of wear. Take pictures as evidence, so that at the end of your lease, your landlord can’t hold you responsible for any damage you didn’t cause.

With that, you’re all set to move in to your new HDB rental flat!

Special rental schemes to save you money

Under certain special conditions, you can also rent a HDB flat directly from, well, HDB:

9. Public Rental Scheme

The Public Rental Scheme is designed to provide lower-income Singapore Citizen households with no housing options or family support with heavily subsidized HDB flats.

Under this scheme, you can rent 1-room or 2-room HDB flats for as low as $26 per month.

In order to be eligible for this scheme, you have to meet the following criteria:

  • If applying as a family unit, your family nucleus must comprise at least 1 Singapore Citizen and another Singapore Citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident
  • If applying as joint singles, both of you must be single (duh) and Singapore Citizens
  • Your total household gross income must not exceed $1,500 per month
  • You don’t already own or have an interest in any local or overseas property at the point of application

Find out more about your eligibility, flat types, the application procedure and tenancy matters regarding the Public Rental Scheme here.

10. Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS)

The PPHS is designed for first-timer married couples who have booked an uncompleted HDB flat, allowing them to rental flat to stay in while awaiting their purchased flat’s completion.

Under this scheme, you can rent 3-room or 4-room HDB flats for as low as $600 per month.

In order to be eligible for this scheme, you have to meet the following criteria:

  • You have booked an uncompleted flat under the HDB sales exercise (in other words, you have BTO ai mai-ed)
  • You’re both Singapore Citizens/ one of you is a Singapore Citizen and one of you is a Singapore Permanent Resident
  • You don’t already own or co-own any existing HDB flat at the point of application

Find out more about your eligibility, flat types, the application procedure and tenancy matters regarding the PPHS here.

 

Renting a HDB flat in Singapore

Renting a flat is an increasingly popular option amongst Singaporeans these days – in fact, a HDB survey found that young Singaporean couples are more likely to start their married life in a rented flat, with one in five of them doing so.

Now that you know the 101s of renting, time to check out Carousell to start home-shopping!

 

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