Does the landlord pay for the spoilt aircon? What if you break a lease? Insider advice you need for a smarter choice and save yourself future headaches! Ask yourself these questions before meeting a realtor:
You’re all set to rent your first apartment or house in Singapore, but before you speak to a property agent, there are certain things that you need to think about. We spoke to two industry experts who deal with expat rentals to share their tips to help make home hunting as smooth as possible.
Where do we want to live?
Consider a location that is close to the school you’re planning to send your child to or your work place, somewhere easily accessible by public transport and has amenities, such as a supermarket or restaurants, nearby.
Are the pets coming along?
The house has to be handed back in the same condition as it was taken over in at the start (minus fair wear and tear). Any damage caused by a pet could quickly result in high costs for you, especially when it comes to repairing floor damage.
Do designer furnishings matter?
Avoid getting swayed by luxurious aesthetic items like branded furniture and expensive appliances. Without proper maintenance, the compensation sought by landlords could get hefty at the end of the rental period. If such add-ons aren’t that important, opt for partial or completely unfurnished properties to make handovers less problematic.
What other costs are there?
Most landlords require regular maintenance contracts for air conditioners, so factor it into your budget. And if it is spoilt due to negligence, you’ll have to replace it.
Can I break a lease?
The diplomatic clause only kicks in after 12 months and with two months’ notice to the landlord. So unless you are happy to pay a high cost for breaking your lease, the tenant is obligated to at least 14 months of rental out of the 24-month period. The diplomatic clause can only be invoked with a letter from the employer as proof of your departure.
What’s your budget?
This determines what kind of house or apartment you can rent. Naturally, the newer the property, the higher the rental. Give a serious thought to what is important to you – do you want a place that’s furnished, does it need new paint or new fans?
Is space important to you?
Be wary that most new condos, while very stylish, usually provide much less space than their older counterparts. If you value space over a modern chic layout, always go for older buildings first.
How’s the light?
Think about what you’d like to have, such as a balcony or an outdoor area. Singapore has very high level of humidity, so think about damp spots becoming mouldy over time if there isn’t enough sunlight shining through.
Do we mind occasional noise?
Avoid areas that are too close to places of worship, eateries or schools if you want a quiet neighbourhood. Keep the local culture in mind, and remember that certain festive periods may add noise and bustle to the area.
How do I get an agent?
Ask around for one who comes highly recommended and will commit to you fully. You’ll only waste time signing up with several agents as they all have access to the same databases. For properties with rental costing more than $3,000, the landlord will usually pay the agent commission.
Do Your Research
Check out these online resources for an idea of what sort of properties are available and the going rates:
- Property Guru: This popular go-to website for real-estate professionals and home owners lists rental properties available by type, district and location. You can even find your realtor here.
- ST701 & ST Property: These sites provide comprehensive databases of resources including current market trends and extensive property listings.
- 99.CO: Singapore’s fastest-growing property portal for finding houses, condominiums and apartments.
Tips from Deborah Lynne Law, Key Executive Offi cer, Expat Realtor, and Shandy Tong, Associate Division Director, ERA Realty Network.
And don’t forget our moving checklist!
By Priyanka Elhence, The Finder, June 2015