Renting A Place? Here’s What You Should Know

What to look out for in a rental contract and the best questions to ask a landlord.

By Sasha Gonzales        19 July 2021

With more BTO projects being delayed by up to a year at the moment – no thanks to the pandemic – more of us have turned to short-term rentals as a solution. Renting a room or home can be daunting and confusing, especially if you’re new to the market, but if you want the experience to go smoothly, it pays to know a few things beforehand. From what to look out for when inspecting a property to how to negotiate your contract, here are some tips for being a savvy would-be tenant.

Before You Move In

So you’ve finally found the perfect room or apartment, but before you sign the tenant agreement and move in, there are a few things you’ll have to do. First, make sure you’ve checked the property for defects.

“I recommend taking photos or even a video when you’re inspecting a property, so you have proof of what state the property was in before you moved in,” says Andik Imran, a realtor and founder of Real Estate Dad. “Check for defects, and if anything is amiss, bring it up immediately to the agent or owner. Even if there are no defects, take photos and videos anyway, because they may be useful when you move out and need to hand the property back.”

Defects may include anything from cracks in tiles, general wear and tear, peeling paint, and stains on walls and floors. If furniture and appliances are provided, check their age and existing condition, as you’ll be responsible for them while you’re staying in the property.

How To Make Sense Of Your Contract

Before signing the contract, take note of your obligations as a tenant, says Nick Tan, Practicing Director at Singapore Realtor Inc. Some of the more important ones include:

– Quarterly servicing of the air-con unit. Pay special attention to whether you need to do gas top-ups or chemical cleaning as these procedures translate to extra costs

– The amount under the minor repair clause – this determines the cost you’ll incur when appliances break down

– The clause that states no hacking of walls or drilling of holes in walls

– No subletting – this would constitute a breach in contract terms

– The requirement to dry-clean curtains

“Any special requests you may have are usually included in the Letter of Intent that’s presented to the landlord,” Nick adds. “If the landlord is agreeable, special or additional clauses will then be added to the tenancy agreement. If you have a pet, for example, they’d have to include the pet clause.”

Questions To Ask The Landlord

Andik suggests asking if you’ll have a grace period in case you cannot pay your rent on time. If the property or room is furnished or includes appliances, you may also want to request for a grace period so that you can ensure that everything is functioning well. Otherwise, if an appliance breaks down through no fault of your own, you may be held responsible.

“Other important questions might include, are you allowed to cook or use the air-con if you’re sharing the property with the landlord; whether there are laundry facilities on-site; and whether you’re allowed to have visitors,” Andik continues. “The question about visitors is crucial because you don’t want to be seen as sub-letting the place to other people, particularly if there’s a sub-letting clause in your contract.”

Nick says to ask whether there’s any room for negotiation regarding the contract or if the contract includes an early termination clause. You can – and should – also ask the landlord about the neighbours and neighbourhood.

Deposits & Payments Explained

Good Faith Deposit: This is presented to your landlord with your Letter of Intent when you make your offer and want to communicate specific requests.

Security Deposit: Your landlord holds onto this money during the period of the lease. The amount is equivalent to one month’s rent for every year’s lease.

Stamp duty: This is payable to the IRAS for the stamping of the lease document.

Advance rent: You have to pay your first month’s rent upon signing the lease or taking over the property.

Self-Storage Facilities – Where To Stash Your Stuff While Renting

Extra Space Self-Storage: Visit their website to get a quote: www.extraspaceasia.com.sg

EZ-Storage: From $10 to $250: beststorage.ezstoragesg.com

Spaceship: Visit their website to get an estimate: www.spaceship.com.sg

Share your home rental tips with us at magnsman@sph.com.sg!