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HDB Rental in Singapore: 7 Step-by-Step Guide for Foreigners



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Written by: Benjienen Toledo

Living in a new place is very exciting; new things, places, and people you meet and adventures you get to experience. But it could also be stressful and scary, especially if you barely know the place you are now going to reside in. Housing is on top of the list. Ease the transition process with these steps.

7-Step Home Rental Guide in Singapore for Foreigners

1. Prepare your HDB Rental Requirements

  • Photocopy and Original Singapore Pass Card
  • Photocopy and Original Foreign Passport
  • Budget for one month advance Rental Fee, Security Deposit, Tenant Stamp Duty and PUB deposit.
  • Local contact number and email so that the property agent and/or landlord of the HDB flat for rent may contact you.

Depending on the neighbourhood or the size of the HDB, the price for rent will definitely vary. Some can be as low as S$1,800 which are the smaller units and can be found in areas further from the Central Business District (CBD) while others cost up to S$3,000 or more if they’re the usual 4-room flat or within CBD.

Related: 6 Steps in Renting a Condo in Singapore for Foreigners


2. Search Property Listings in Your Preferred Locations

You may live near your workplace for convenience, or you may opt to rent in one of the HDBs in the heartlands which may be farther, but cheaper by S$300-500. The heartlands may be farther from the city but are nearby MRT stations, bus stops, shopping centres, hawker food centres, and grocery stores.

Some Popular HDB neighbourhoods:

Pasir Ris and Tampines

HDB Flats here are much more spacious in comparison to most neighbourhoods. It also gives their residents easy access to the city and to the coast. There are numerous activities in local parks and coastlines that will keep anyone’s weekend occupied.

Yishun and Sembawang

It’s true that these areas in the north are further from the city, it doesn’t mean that they are less accessible. These neighbourhoods offer their residents good coverage for public transport. It is also much easier to cross the border to Malaysia for a quick weekend getaway.

Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Batok

Both these neighbourhoods are located at the west side of Singapore. Both these areas offer residents spacious areas, parks and other facilities. Ultimately it is a good neighbourhood for families and those who enjoy outdoor activities.


3. Schedule Viewings, Attend Open Houses or ShoutOut

Once you have shortlisted three to five HDB flats, contact the owner or the landlord who posted the HDB flat for rent. You may check Ohmyhome app for any open houses, and you can just show up anytime during the scheduled open house.

Ohmyhome has in-app ShoutOut feature to give tenants like you a space to list your home requirements. Landlords will then filter and suggest their listing to you.

After you have chosen the unit to take, verify that the property agent representing the landlord is registered.

Related: Advantages of Renting a Home Close to Business Districts

4. Check Whether the Agent You’re Dealing with is Registered

Here are 4 steps on how you can ensure your Agent has a valid Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) license:

  • Go to CEA‘s official website
  • Click on “Check if your agent is registered
  • Enter your salesperson’s name or registration number (you can find this on his/her business card or ID nametag)
  • Click on “Search”

After ensuring that the agent is licensed to represent the landlord, create your Letter of Intent (LOI).


5. Write a Letter of Intent (LOI)

LOI is addressed to the landlord. It is where you’ll state your intentions to enter a Tenancy Agreement (TA). Sending this to the landlord means that they would have to stop advertising the HDB for rent, essentially preventing other would-be tenants to view the property.

Important items in the LOI:
  • Reservation Fee – This is also known as a “good faith deposit.” This will ensure that your landlord stops looking for other tenants to rent the property. Later on, this deposit will become part of your advance rental fee for the first month or security deposit right after you signed the TA.
  • Security Deposit – The standard deposit for a one-year lease is one month’s rent. When the term ends, you can get a refund without interest but the landlord has a right to deduct costs incurred from you breaching any of the covenants in the TA. Here are things you need to know when renting in Singapore for a smooth handover. Do note that the security deposit cannot be used to offset the last month rent should you choose not to renew the lease.
  • Term of Lease – Usually, the rental period in Singapore is 12 months or 24 months. State in the TA how long you plan to reside in the property. When the time comes for you to renew it, be sure to inform your landlord two to thre months prior to your termination date.

Take note: The minimum tenancy period for HDB flats in Singapore is six months. Short-term rental in Singapore is illegal.

  • Requests and Requirements – Your LOI is the perfect opportunity for you to specify all your requests and requirements prior to renting the property.

This would include:

  • Requesting for new appliances
  • Replacing old furniture, like the sofa and the bed

Once the landlord signed your LOI, they will be bound to follow all the requests you mentioned in the letter, unless they negotiate. There is also an optional clause that could be included by the landlord. This clause can only be added if the lease is for at least 24 months.

  • Diplomatic Clause – This clause will enable you to terminate the tenancy agreement after 12 months by providing the landlord a two-month notice, in case of unwanted circumstances, such as unemployment or you being moved to another country by your company.

Forward the LOI directly to the landlord or to the property agent. Then schedule another meeting before the handover.

6. Enter the Tenancy Agreement

This agreement will be drafted and prepared for you by your property agent or the landlord. All contents in your TA will be based on your LOI. Ensure to check every detail mentioned in the TA.

You will also need to pay the stamp duty within 14 days from the date of the TA. The stamp duty is a property tax paid by a tenant if they rent an entire property or part of a residential property. This is also payable again if you decide to renew or extend your lease in the future.

After this, the next step is for you to do a home inspection along with the landlord to make sure everything is good condition.

If everything was checked out, you can now apply for utilities to be switched on or in the case when there is a previous occupier, request for change of ownership/utilities account transfer. But just to be sure, check with your HDB Rental agent or the landlord. Once all these is done, you can now start the process of moving in.

Related: Tips to Avoid Home Search Fatigue for Tenants


7. Payment

Friendly reminder is that never pay anything in advance, because legitimate HDB Agent transactions, you pay the agent services only upon completion of the whole process. Property Agents do not aaccept cash, you can pay by check or bank transfer direct to the landlord. Learn more about CEA reminders.

Ohmyhome’s HDB Rental Documentation Service is at a Fixed Fee of SGD588 + GST. Payment is made upon the move in date.

Finding the perfect home or room rental in Singapore is not an easy task, especially if you’re new to the environment. You will need the right home rental app with a tenant’s journey guide and the knowledge for you to make the right decision. Hopefully, this will help you prepare for your home rental decisions.

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