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How to Rent a Flat in Singapore

By · September 9, 2023
How to Rent a Flat in Singapore

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We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the reality is the rental market in Singapore has been heavily affected by post-pandemic shifts, with home rental prices soaring to a new high and showing few signs of slowing down. If you are looking to rent a flat in Singapore to move into at this current economy, it is important to be well-prepared and informed. Here are some tips to help you navigate the rental market maze in Singapore to find your ideal home, especially if you are renting for the very first time.

How to Rent An Apartment for the First Time

1. Determine Your Budget

Before starting your search. It is important to take your finances into consideration. Are you financially ready? Do you have an emergency fund in place? Consider how much you can comfortably afford to spend on rent, taking into account expenses such as utility bills, internet, food and transportation costs. In addition, there are multiple upfront costs when renting a flat in Singapore, such as security deposit, agent’s fee, stamp duty and other administrative charges which may amount to a significant amount.

A common rule of thumb is not to spend more than 30% of your monthly income on your rent to ensure you have enough for other financial obligations.

2. Research Different Areas

Singapore can be divided into three sectors - mainly the Core Central Region (CCR), Rest of Central Region (RCR) and the Outside Central Region (OCR).

Core Central Region (CCR)

The CCR is considered the prime and most prestigious part of Singapore. It encompasses the downtown area, including districts like Marina Bay, Orchard, and Tanglin. Properties in the CCR are often characterised by high-end luxury condos, penthouses, and upscale landed homes. The CCR offers proximity to key business districts, iconic landmarks, high-end shopping, and a vibrant nightlife. Due to its exclusivity and central location, property prices in the CCR tend to be the highest in the city.

Rest of Central Region (RCR)

The RCR lies adjacent to the CCR and includes districts like Bukit Merah, Queenstown, and Novena. This region strikes a balance between central convenience and affordability. RCR properties often consist of mid-range condos, apartments, and older HDB flats. Residents enjoy access to amenities, transportation hubs, and a mix of local and international dining and retail options.

Outside Central Region (OCR)

The OCR covers the suburban areas of Singapore, including districts like Jurong, Sengkang, and Punggol. This region offers a more laid-back and family-friendly lifestyle. Properties in the OCR are primarily HDB flats, condos, and landed homes. The OCR is known for its green spaces, recreational facilities, and affordability compared to the central regions. It is particularly appealing to families looking for larger living spaces and a quieter environment.

As you can see, rental rates correlate with the number of amenities. Hence it is recommended to find a balance between affordability and convenience based on your personal priorities.

3. Engage with Property Agents

Property agents can be valuable resources when searching for a flat rental in Singapore. Not only do they have extensive knowledge of the local rental market, but it also saves you time as they can arrange viewings for you based on the properties that you have shortlisted.

According to the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) , there are over 1,118 property agencies with 34,427 certified property agents in 2023. You can pick an agent from any of the top ten largest property agencies in Singapore.

  1. PropNex Realty Pte Ltd
  2. ERA Realty Network Pte Ltd
  3. Huttons Asia Pte Ltd
  4. OrangeTee & Tie Pte Ltd
  5. SRI Pte Ltd
  6. KF Property Network Pte Ltd
  7. C&H Properties Pte Ltd
  8. Century 21 Pte Ltd
  9. Mindlink Groups Pte Ltd
  10. CBRE Pte Ltd

4. Property Viewing: How to get flat on rent without brokerage

If you are familiar with the process of renting and would like to save the money required for a property agent’s commission, it is extremely crucial to be detail-oriented while viewing a rental property. Keep an eye out for possible defects during inspection and view the property at different times of the day to get an accurate feel of the unit and its surrounding amenities. Take this opportunity to ask the property owner questions about the rental terms, and assess whether it meets your requirements.

5. Understand Tenancy Agreements

Before signing any tenancy agreements, take the time to read through the agreement carefully and ask for clarification on any clauses that you find confusing. Ensure that all agreed-upon terms, such as rental price, duration, and maintenance responsibilities are clearly stated in the contract.

6. Negotiate

If you find a flat that ticks all the checkboxes except for the rental price, do not be afraid to negotiate! In some cases, landlords may be open to negotiation, especially if the property has been on the market for a while or if the rental demand is lower during certain lull periods. Bear in mind that there are other aspects where you can negotiate, such as the provision of furniture or lower deposit fees.

7. Securing the Offer

Once you have verified the property's legality, you can opt to secure it using a Letter of Intent (LOI) alongside a good faith deposit. The LOI documents the verbal agreements and outlines a draft of the upcoming tenancy agreement. It is a way for the property owner to halt their search for other tenants and exclusively engage in negotiations with you.

The good faith deposit, also known as a booking deposit, serves as a down payment demonstrating your serious intent to rent the property. This deposit, typically equating to one month's rent for a 12-month lease or two months' rent for a 24-month lease, reinforces the sincerity of the LOI. Should the lease be finalised, this deposit transforms into either the security deposit or advanced payment for the initial month's rent.

As a precaution, always use traceable methods when transferring the good faith deposit rather than cash. It is advisable to document the conditions for the refund of deposit in writing to prevent any unnecessary disputes.

Top 10 Largest Property Agencies in Singapore

Let us dive into deeper detail on the ten largest property agencies in Singapore, especially if you are seeking expert help on how to rent an apartment before moving.

PropNex Realty Pte Ltd

Established in July 2000, PropNex Realty Pte Ltd is a leading real estate agency in Singapore. With a customer-centric approach, they offer comprehensive property solutions, including sales, leasing, project marketing, and property management. Their team of experienced professionals guides clients through buying, selling, renting, or investing in real estate. Known for integrity and professionalism, PropNex is a trusted partner in navigating Singapore's dynamic property market.

PropNex Realty Pte Ltd

480 Lor 6 Toa Payoh, #18-01 East Wing, HDB Hub, Singapore 310480

Monday-Friday, 9 am–6 pm | Saturday-Sunday, Closed


ERA Realty Network Pte Ltd

ERA Realty Network Pte Ltd is a prominent real estate agency that has been established since 1982. Renowned for its extensive range of property services, ERA offers solutions in property sales, leasing, project marketing, and property management. With a diverse portfolio encompassing residential, commercial, industrial, and international properties, ERA Realty Network stands as a respected and dependable choice for individuals and businesses navigating the complex landscape of real estate.

ERA Realty Network Pte Ltd

450 Lor 6 Toa Payoh, ERA APAC Centre, Singapore 319394

Monday-Friday, 9 am–6 pm | Saturday-Sunday, Closed


Huttons Asia Pte Ltd

In the dynamic world of Singapore's property market, Huttons Group stands tall as the Largest Private Real Estate Agency since its establishment in 2002. Serving a diverse clientele that includes businesses, homeowners, investors, property consultants, and real estate developers, Huttons Group embodies excellence in every aspect of the real estate spectrum.

With a team of over 5,300 seasoned professionals collaborating across 8 countries in partnership with Savills, Huttons Group has consistently earned accolades for pioneering innovations and unwavering dedication to client satisfaction. 

Huttons Asia Pte Ltd

3 Bishan Pl, #05-01 CPF BUILDING, Singapore 579838

Monday-Saturday, 9 am–6 pm | Sunday, Closed


OrangeTee & Tie Pte Ltd

Founded in February 2000, OrangeTee has emerged as a dynamic and rapidly growing force in Singapore's real estate industry. With a dedicated team comprising approximately 3,200 professionals, including real estate consultants, property management specialists, and IT consultants, OrangeTee is committed to delivering comprehensive real estate solutions to both individual and corporate clients.

Driven by a vision to become the most outstanding and respected real estate enterprise in the region, OrangeTee has cultivated a brand image synonymous with innovation, trustworthiness, value, and service. Their unwavering dedication to customer satisfaction ensures that they not only meet but consistently exceed their customers' expectations.

OrangeTee & Tie Pte Ltd

430 Lor 6 Toa Payoh, #01-01 OrangeTee, Building 319402

Monday-Friday, 9 am–6 pm | Saturday-Sunday, Closed


SRI Pte Ltd

Founded in 2016 by co-founders Bruce Lye and Benson Koh, Singapore Realtors Inc (SRI) has swiftly risen to prominence in Singapore's real estate arena. What began as a vision to advance their ideas and values evolved into a dynamic agency with a strong presence, now headquartered in the expansive penthouse office at Great World City, leaving behind its roots in the trendy Tiong Bahru neighborhood.

SRI's innovative spirit and dedication to a unified approach make them a standout choice for anyone seeking top-tier expertise in Singapore's real estate market. Whether you're looking to lease or sell a property, SRI's dedicated team of realtors is always ready to provide top-notch assistance for all your residential real estate needs, ensuring an elevated and personalized experience at every step.

SRI Pte Ltd

1 Kim Seng Promenade #17-10/12 Great World City, West Lobby, 237994

Monday-Friday, 9:30 am–6 pm | Saturday-Sunday, Closed


KF Property Network Pte Ltd

With a legacy dating back to 1940, Knight Frank Singapore has been at the forefront of the country's real estate consultancy, shaping the industry, influencing land use, and creating innovative living and working environments. At Knight Frank Singapore, the mission is clear: to create and maximize value for clients through integrated and innovative real estate solutions. They believe in building lasting relationships that empower them to offer personalized advice, always keeping your desired future at the heart of their approach.

Headquartered in London and present in 57 territories worldwide with over 22,750 employees, Knight Frank is a global real estate powerhouse. In Singapore, their diverse team combines individual strengths to deliver exceptional service, guided by a commitment to both professional and personal well-being.

KF Property Network Pte Ltd

10 Collyer Quay, #08-01 Ocean Financial Centre, Singapore 049315

Monday-Thursday, 9 am–6 pm | Friday, 9 am–5:30 pm | Saturday-Sunday, Closed


C&H Properties Pte Ltd

When it comes to fulfilling your housing property needs in Singapore, C&H Associates stands as your unwavering professional partner. Whether you're looking to buy, sell, rent, or lease properties, you can trust in their expertise to provide the finest options available. C&H Associates goes the extra mile to reward your trust with valuable offerings like their FREE Deposit Guarantee* and Home Maintenance Program*.

From landed properties to condominiums, apartments, and HDB flats, C&H Associates has you covered with a diverse range of residential options. Additionally, for your business requirements, they excel in finding the perfect office space, retail shop, food court location, or warehousing facility. With C&H Associates, you can count on expert guidance to match your commercial needs with the right property, making them your go-to source for comprehensive property solutions in Singapore.

C&H Properties Pte Ltd

125A Lor 2 Toa Payoh, #02-138, Singapore 311125

Monday-Friday, 9:30 am–6 pm | Saturday-Sunday, Closed


Century 21 Pte Ltd

Since its inception in 2013, Century 21 Pte Ltd has rapidly risen to prominence as one of Singapore's largest and fastest-growing real estate agencies. With a steadfast commitment to both high training and ethical standards, Century 21 Pte Ltd ensures that its network consistently delivers exceptional service to valued customers. Their dedication to excellence has solidified their reputation as a trusted and top-tier player in the Singaporean real estate landscape, making them a standout choice for all your property needs.

Century 21 Pte Ltd

125A Lor 2 Toa Payoh, #02-138 Town Council, Singapore 311125

Monday-Friday, 9 am–6 pm | Saturday-Sunday, Closed


Mindlink Groups Pte Ltd

MindLink Groups, a respected real estate company based in Singapore, stands as a beacon of professionalism and integrity in the local market. Specializing in a comprehensive suite of real estate services, including property investment, development, sales, and leasing, they have earned a solid reputation for their unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional customer service. With their strong presence and dedication to excellence, MindLink Groups is the trusted partner you can rely on for all your real estate needs in Singapore.

Mindlink Groups Pte Ltd

116 Lor 2 Toa Payoh, #01-162, Singapore 310116

Monday-Friday, 10 am–5 pm | Saturday-Sunday, Closed


CBRE Pte Ltd

As the unrivaled global leader in commercial real estate services and investments, CBRE Pte Ltd offers a comprehensive suite of solutions that transcend every facet of the industry. Their services, insights, and data cover all dimensions, enabling them to craft tailored solutions for clients of all sizes, operating in diverse sectors and geographies. With an extensive team of researchers who seamlessly merge local and global intelligence, CBRE Pte Ltd delivers actionable insights and a multi-dimensional perspective that stands unparalleled in the industry.

Whether you're looking to invest in real estate, plan, lease, and occupy properties, design and build, manage portfolios, or transform business outcomes, CBRE Pte Ltd is your trusted partner. With their expertise, they empower clients to make informed decisions and navigate the ever-evolving landscape of commercial real estate.

CBRE Pte Ltd

2 Tanjong Katong Rd, #06-01 Paya Lebar Quarter, Singapore 437161

Monday-Friday, 9 am–5:30 pm |  Saturday-Sunday, Closed


Frequently Asked Questions

Can foreigners rent a flat in Singapore?

Yes, foreigners are generally allowed to rent residential properties in Singapore. However, there are specific regulations and eligibility criteria that foreign tenants must meet.

What are the rules for renting in Singapore?

Renting in Singapore is governed by several rules and regulations such as lease agreements, security deposits, stamp duty, and tenant rights.

How can I rent my HDB flat without an agent?

First and foremost, you need to check your eligibility to rent out your HDB flat. Once that is confirmed, you can advertise your property on various online platforms such as Ohmyhome or PropertyGuru

How to rent cheaply in Singapore?

Renting affordably in Singapore involves factors like location, property type, market demand and negotiation skills. Consider looking for properties in suburban areas (Outside Central Region). Bargaining and searching for promotions during off-peak rental seasons can also help you secure a more budget-friendly deal.

Can CPF pay rental?

According to CPFB, you are not allowed to pay for your rental via CPF.

Can foreigners rent HDB for 2 years?

According to HDB website, for foreigners who are non-Malaysian and non-citizens, the maximum period per approval is 2 years.

Can I rent out HDB without approval?

You must gain the approval of HDB before you can legally rent out your HDB flat. Before you sign the Tenancy Agreement, you must apply for their approval. You need to pay a $20 administrative fee, but if you are only subletting a bedroom the administrative fee would be $10.

Can a tourist rent an apartment in Singapore?

Most rental agreements in Singapore require a minimum lease period of six months, making it unsuitable for a tourist to rent an apartment for a holiday.

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