Renting in Singapore isn’t easy, and not only because of the sky high rents. Renting is strictly regulated in Singapore, and the rules are even stricter when it comes to short-term rental options of less than a year.
So, if you ever need to rent a place short-term or are thinking of renting your own property out, here’s what you need to know.
What’s the minimum rental period for short term rentals in Singapore?
The minimum rental period differs depending on whether you are hoping to rent (or rent out) an HDB flat or private property like a condo.
HDB flat minimum rental period
HDB flats can only be rented for a minimum of 6 months. In general, HDB flat owners tend to obey the rules, as getting caught for flouting them could mean their home getting confiscated!
In addition, HDB flat owners are only allowed to rent out the entire flat if they have already lived in it for the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP), which is five typically years. Therefore, if you are going to rent a bedroom in an HDB flat that the owner bought less than five years ago, be prepared to live with the landlord, which can bring its own set of problems.
Do note that before renting out bedrooms in an HDB flat or an entire unit, you must first make an application for approval to the HDB.
Private property minimum rental period
When it comes to private property like condos or landed houses, the minimum rental period is 3 months.
Most of the properties you will see on short-term rental listing sites like Airbnb are going to fall under this category. But, as you might also have noticed, most tourists on Airbnb are renting property for a few days, not 3 months. That’s technically illegal, but many landlords choose to risk it and rent out their property for shorter periods.
Who can you rent your property to?
Who is an eligible tenant?
Technically, the only people allowed to rent property are Singapore citizens and PRs, or valid residents of the country.
To be a valid resident, one must have an employment pass or work permit, a student pass, a dependent pass or a long-term social visit pass. Notice that tourist visas are not mentioned here. What is more, work permit holders in construction, manufacturing, marine and processing must be Malaysian—non-Malaysian workers in these industries are usually made to stay in dorms.
Tourists are obliged to stay at hotels or hostels, unless they are willing to take the risk of an illegal short-term rental.
Who can rent an HDB flat?
Once again, HDB owners get the short end of the stick, as there are rules governing whom they can rent to.
That is because HDB estates are subject to non-citizen quotas for maintenance of the ethnic mix. When renting out an entire HDB flat, the quota for non-Malaysian foreigners is capped at 8% per neighbourhood and 11% per block. (The quota does not apply to the renting out of single bedrooms, only entire flats.) Once the quota has been reached, only Singapore and Malaysian citizens can rent the flat.
HDB flat owners should also take care not to rent out more than the maximum number of bedrooms or exceed the maximum number of tenants allowed in each flat. 1-room and 2-room flats cannot be rented out until the Maximum Occupation Period has been reached.
Who can rent private property?
When it comes to private property like condos and landed houses, you can rent out your property to anyone who is legally residing in Singapore (that does not include tourists, see above), so long as you obey the rules about the minimal rental period.
How do you start renting for short-stays?
So, let’s say you’ve forked out the dough to buy property in Singapore, and you’re now looking to make some cash out of it by renting it out for short-term stays. This can make a lot of sense as rents are usually higher for short-term stays, plus you don’t have to worry about not being able to get rid of a tenant who’s overstayed his welcome.
You will first have to create a listing on property websites like PropertyGuru.com.sg, 99.co and so on. Clean up the place and take nice pictures of it, and then prepare your property and/or room for potential tenants to view. Most tenants want to see an uncluttered, bright property, so get rid of your junk and open the curtains.
If you don’t want to do all this by yourself, you can also hire a property agent if you don’t mind paying him a commission. The agent can create listings on your behalf and set up appointments with potential tenants.
Once you have found a tenant, it’s time to draw up a tenancy agreement and make them sign it. If you are not sure how to do this, there are many samples to be found online, or you could get one from a property agent. Make sure to modify the contract to suit your circumstances.
If you are a tenant, you have the right to negotiate any terms of the tenancy agreement you are not satisfied with.
Now you have a tenant for a few months
Before the tenancy agreement is signed, make sure both tenant and landlord understand what is and is not included in the stated rent, such as utilities and repairs. On the subject of repairs, it can be helpful to set out in the contract what repairs are included and what are not (eg. if the tenant breaks something he is responsible, but the cost of rectifying wear and tear of appliances like the air conditioning unit will be borne by the landlord).
Even as a short-term rental landlord, you also want to make sure your tenant is clear about any rules and guidelines, especially if you will be living in the property with them. For instance, if you do not allow smoking indoors, communicate this to them before they sign the tenancy agreement, not after.
Do note that some landlords impose draconian rules on their tenants, such as by disallowing cooking, banning them from using the living room or forbidding visitors. You can of course impose whatever rules you want, but know that they are likely to affect the rent.
As a tenant, unless you really do not cook or intend to stay cooped up alone in your room all day, you do not want to accept unreasonable rules unless they are accompanied by significantly lower rent.
Do you have any questions about short-term rentals in Singapore? Ask away in the comments!
Personal finance tips delivered to your inbox!
Receive news, subscriber-exclusive promotions and guides on how to become smarter with money.
We promise never to spam you!