According to PropertyGuru’s Consumer Sentiment Study H1 2021, 72% of Millennials are thinking of moving out by the next year. However, purchasing a property in Singapore is expensive and the only other way to have a place to yourself would be through renting.
HDB flats are currently the most affordable option on the open market. However, even if you engage an agent to facilitate the search and guide you through the process, tenants should still take note of the many factors to avoid unnecessary headaches. There’s more to look out for apart from snatching up a bargain on the rental price.
So, here is a complete cost guide on what to look out for when it comes to renting a HDB flat in Singapore (from the open market).
Be Aware Of Tenants’ Regulatory Criteria For Renting HDB Flat
Before going to the HDB flat for viewing, it is important to check the preliminary regulation criteria for being a tenant.
Non-Citizen Quota: Aside from Singaporeans, Permanent Resident (PR) and Malaysian, foreigners would be subjected to the Non-Citizen Quota. The quota is set at 8% at neighbourhood level and 11% at block level. Do note that this quota does not apply to renting bedrooms. Do check on the HDB portal if the place of rental has reached the quota or not.
Minimum Rental Period: The minimum tenancy is 6 months.
Maximum Number Of Tenants: Depending on the HDB flat size, the number of occupants varies as follows:
Property Ownership: Tenants cannot be the owner of an executive condominium where the 5-year minimum occupation period is not over. Additionally, no HDB flat ownership or dual HDB flat tenancy is allowed unless there are special circumstances such as being divorced.
Tenants should always check for documentation proof of flat ownership and HDB’s approval for rental. After collection of keys and move in date, do ensure that your tenancy have been legally approved via HDB portal.
Check The Fair Market Price for HDB Rental
Once you have cleared the necessary criteria to be a legal tenant, you can start looking for a flat to rent.
HDB regularly publishes rental statistics for HDB resale flats. This can act as a reference point for your rental search. Do note that these are median prices of whole HDB flats. Prices for single bedrooms are not covered in these statistics.
|Ang Mo Kio||–||*||$1,750||$2,140||$2,400||*|
|Choa Chu Kang||–||*||*||$1,800||$1,880||$2,200|
These prices are based on the latest 2020 3rd Quarter monthly rental rate on the HDB website. The highest rental area would be Bukit Merah at $2,800 per month for a 5-room while the cheapest would be $1,530 per month for a 3-room at Bukit Panjang.
Set Aside Funds For Other Expenses Besides Rent
Other than rent, there are other costs to renting a HDB flat that tenants should look out for such as direct living costs and hidden costs that can arise from the tenancy agreement. Before signing against any tenancy agreement (TA), it is good practice to check the agreement against regulatory standards such as Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) standard agreement template. Do note that it is not a legal requirement to utilise the CEA’s TA template. If there are deviations, you should find out the rationale from your landlord or agent and how will it affect you as the tenant.
Utilities and Internet
|Premises Type||Jan ’21|
Source: SP Group
Assuming you pick MyRepublic no contract plan of $59.99 (without factoring any promotional rates) – our recommendation for no contract broadband plan – for your broadband plan, you can expect your utilities and internet bills to range from $124 to $187 per month.
Furniture, Furnishing & Maintenance
For a furnished rented HDB flat, it is important to check against the TA on the agreed terms. Based on the standard CEA’s TA, there would be a “problem-free period” whereby the landlord would not be able to hold against the tenant for any damages identified by the tenant during the period. Afterward, it would be up to the tenant to ensure “good order and condition” and the tenant is responsible for all minor repairs, maintenance and replacements.
For an unfurnished rented HDB flat, the budget allocated for furniture depends on the individual needs and wants. Purchasing the necessary work-home station can set you back about $500 and decorating a cosy bedroom would be another $500. In total, be prepared to part with about $1,000 for the necessary furniture to work from home.
Of course, it is entirely possible to shell out more for more luxurious furnishings at your own expense if that is within your budget.
Air Conditioning (Quarterly Maintenance)
Air conditioning maintenance is usually at the expense of the tenant as stated on the CEA’s sample TA. Tenants are responsible for the cost of quarterly maintenance of the air conditioner units. In the case of breakdown, the landlord will be responsible for the replacement and repair only if the breakdown is not due to tenant negligence. If the cause of the breakdown is due to the tenant, all costs will be borne by the tenant.
The cost of general aircon maintenance can range from $160 to $480 each year depending on the number of units.
Most HDB flats do come with the necessary household appliances such as fridge, washing machine and lights. Depending on your needs and preference, there may be other appliances you find essential such as a kettle, rice cooker, television and more. Purchasing a new kettle, rice cooker and television can set you back about $1,000.
Do note that the household appliances owned by the landlord have the same maintenance responsibilities and cost tied to them as with furniture and furnishings. Notify landlords in the event of any replacement and disposal to prevent any unnecessary conflicts.
Wear And Tear
Based on the template CEA’s TA, tenants are not responsible for reasonable wear and tear. However, do check against your existing TA for any deviation from the template wear and tear clause. Some TA may request for co-payment or the landlord could deduct from the security deposit for the cost of replacing or fixing such wear and tear.
Landlords can claim for any damages that are not covered by insurance which is a result of the tenant’s negligence or non-maintenance.
These damages include furniture, furnishings, sanitary pipes, electrical wiring, pipes and drains. Tenant would still be liable for the compensation even if the cause of damage were resulted through an agent such as visitors or pets. In the event of fire, the landlord’s insurance would cover the fire damage to the property but not the tenant’s belongings.
While the landlord may have their own insurance in place to safeguard their interest, tenants should still apply for insurance in the case of accidental damages that the landlord can claim from the tenant. Although the landlord insurance does cover fire damages, the compensation would be usually limited to the landlord belongings and not the tenants’ belongings. For the average price of $75 annually, having a tenancy insurance can even help to cover the cost of any accidental damages. Some even allow you to claim for the maintenance cost of air conditioners.
According to HDB guidelines, the rental deposit is usually about a month’s rent for a 1-year TA and 2 months’ rent for a 2-year TA. The amount is payable upon signing the TA, together with the first month’s rent.
Assuming the TA is for one year, the total amount payable upon signing would be 2 month’s rent.
Post Tenancy Cost
Lastly, when the term of the tenancy comes to an end, there may be additional costs to ensure that the tenant hands over the flat in “good order and condition”. This would include cleaning and unfitting costs and some landlords might require the repainting of the premises depending on the signed TA.
Assuming that a handover cleaning would be required upon term expiry, the cost can range from $250 to $750 depending on the unit size.
In summary, renting a HDB flat in Singapore does not only consist of the monthly rental fees, but there are also other miscellaneous costs to factor into the cost of renting.
Based on the article, renting a 4-room HDB flat in Ang Mo Kio for one year can rake up a total estimated cost of $33,572.
|HDB 4-room||1 Year Tenancy|
|Rental (median rent in Ang Mo Kio)||~$25,680|
|Aircon (quarterly maintenance)||~$320|
|Post-tenancy cleaning cost||~$500|
Cover image credit: Raymond Quek
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