Help with Rental Process

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ronin013
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Help with Rental Process

Post by ronin013 » Mon, 19 Aug 2013 9:35 am

Hello everyone. I am brand new to Singapore Expats.

1. Is there a guide that outlines the entire process of renting from start (initially contacting an agent or property owner) to finish (moving in)? I noticed there are some targeted articles about aspects of renting, but not one that generally covers the entire process in Singapore.

2. How long should I wait for an email response from an agent or property owner? I am currently located in the United States and email is the best way for me to make contact.


Thank you very much!

Singapore Property Search

 

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Post by bgd » Mon, 19 Aug 2013 11:02 am

Start with the Expat Guides at the top of this forum. Then use the Search function for any specific questions you still have.

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Re: Help with Rental Process

Post by x9200 » Mon, 19 Aug 2013 12:13 pm

ronin013 wrote:Hello everyone. I am brand new to Singapore Expats.

1. Is there a guide that outlines the entire process of renting from start (initially contacting an agent or property owner) to finish (moving in)? I noticed there are some targeted articles about aspects of renting, but not one that generally covers the entire process in Singapore.

2. How long should I wait for an email response from an agent or property owner? I am currently located in the United States and email is the best way for me to make contact.
What do you want to achieve? If securing the property you liked by looking at the photos this is generally a bad idea.

1. Look for properties online and identify what you like
2. Come to Singapore and allow yourself at least 10 days for finding the place
3. Contact the owner/agent by phone (for a specific property) or submit a general inquiry via the places like this website

Procedure typically followed (in short):
1. you find the place you like
2. you negotiate all components (price, furniture, repainting etc etc) directly with the owner or via the agents
3. you sign a letter of intent (LOI) where you specify what you managed to agree on
4. you pay a good faith deposit (typically one month rental - to be converted later to the 1st rent)
5. if agents are involved you will be given some generic tenancy agreement (TA); change it as required and agree with the landlord on the changes; if no agents and TA, google out some templates.
6. sign TA and pay a security deposit
7. pay stamping fee
8. pay the commission to your agent (if applicable)
9. arrange for utility account
10. move in

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Post by beppi » Mon, 19 Aug 2013 5:12 pm

LOI and Good Faith Deposit (what an unfortunate word!) are not required and usually a waste of time if dealing with the landlord directly (which you should, as agents are of limited and expensive use).

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Post by x9200 » Mon, 19 Aug 2013 5:18 pm

True but I believe some landlords may insist to have it in place as to their thinking it shows that one is serious about entering the contract. From legal stand point LOI is worth nothing and could be omitted regardless the agent is used or not.

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Post by ronin013 » Tue, 20 Aug 2013 1:31 am

Thank you very much for your prompt and informative replies! I appreciate any advice you could provide.

Forgive me: earlier, I failed to realize that perhaps I've given too little information to help you all fully understand my situation. :)

Beginning in October 2013, I will be a student pass holder. I will be in school for approximately one year. School begins around mid-October and I intend to be in Singapore on 1 Oct 13, at the very latest. My school suggested I look for housing in Tanjong Pagar, Raffles Place, Outram Park or Chinatown. In addition to researching rentals on singaporeexpats, I've also started looking for potential places on another site.

@x9200:
Thank you for outlining the general steps in the Rental Process: now I have an idea of what is supposed to happen.

Initially, I was intending to secure housing before arriving, but now I am hoping to narrow my search for housing before I arrive in Singapore. After reading your response and reading some other topics regarding renting, I understand that renting "site unseen" is probably a very bad idea.

If I am understanding you correctly, the best way for me to approach this process is to: have a shortlist of places I'm interested in, inspect those places, then make a decision based on my inspection. I'm curious about the "10 days for finding the place": what should be happening during those 10 days? Should I be investigating the immediate area around the properties or should I be devoting 10 days to find places I'm interested in?

@beppi:
If I am not familiar with rental properties in Singapore, is it not wise to engage the services of someone who is?

If I were to engage the services of a Rental Agent, how do I gauge whether an agent is reputable or not? Is there some place I can check that agent's professional history?

Finally, if from a legal standpoint, the Letter of Intent (LOI) is worthless, then is the LOI just a formality?

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Post by beppi » Tue, 20 Aug 2013 4:01 am

You will need the 10 days as an absolute minimum (I'd recommend 2-4 weeks!) to review ads, contact agents or owners, arrange viewings (many, since most places will turn out worse than the description implied), decide, negotiate, complete the paperwork, arrange the move, ...
In principle it would be wise to engage somebody who knows the rental market well, but it's unlikely that somebody is an agent. First none of them has ever rented (locals don't rent in Singapore!), second very few have been in the job long enough to have market knowledge (property agent is a typical stopgap job in Singapore and fluctuation is extremely high) and third they aren't interested in getting you a good deal, only in earning themselves a fee (happy customers are less likely to return than unhappy ones!).
In addition, do you know what, where and for how much you want to rent? The list of places you mentioned is all very central, less residential than business, and costly - not where students usually stay! Do you want a sublet room or a whole unit? Do you have the budget for that (whole unit in the mentioned places cost minimum S$4000/month)?

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Post by ronin013 » Tue, 20 Aug 2013 4:24 am

Hello beppi! I see. Your suggestion is to take 2 - 4 weeks to look for a place, but take 10 days at a bare minimum. As my time and finances are limited, I will likely choose the bare minimum route.

I understand staying in the city may be more expensive, but I value my time greatly, as I know the program is compressed and my school workload will be extremely heavy. Class lectures, lab work and homework will be frequent and time intensive.

My aim is to find a rental in: Tanjong Pagar, Raffles Place, Outram Park or Chinatown for less than $2500 per month. It sounds more likely that it will be a room rental rather than a full unit.

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Post by x9200 » Tue, 20 Aug 2013 8:49 am

$2k5 should be enough for the mentioned areas if you are willing to share the apartment. Unfortunately what beppi said about the agents is generally true so you will be much better off looking first for somebody looking for a flat mate.
I recall some topics in this forum advising on suitable web sites. One I managed to google out is http://www.flathub.com/, but there were more. And yes, see first with your own eyes, and only then decide. If there is something you strongly don't like about the landlord or your future flat mates just walk away, there are plenty rooms to chose from.

As of LOI I think it is a part of the ritual - you will learn that people here are not exactly very flexible when it comes to stuff like this. You may have problems in changing anything in your TA. You will hear from the agents "this is a standard clause".

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Post by the lynx » Tue, 20 Aug 2013 9:04 am

Another option you can think of is international student hostels. They are available in Chinatown, Little India etc. I don't have the info but I know some international students rent a room from such places.

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Post by ronin013 » Fri, 23 Aug 2013 3:04 am

Thank you very much for the help!

@X9200:
Thank you for the advice! I will be as careful as possible while I search for a place to stay.

@the lynx:
Thanks for the tip! I will look into the possibility of staying at an International Student Hostel.

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Post by Roy_alt » Sat, 24 Aug 2013 10:13 pm

x9200 wrote:
As of LOI I think it is a part of the ritual - you will learn that people here are not exactly very flexible when it comes to stuff like this. You may have problems in changing anything in your TA. You will hear from the agents "this is a standard clause".
You are right x9200 the agents will always say "It is The Industry standard". But for the Landlord it is not applicable.
I have an incident recently(refer my lengthy post yesterday), an LOI signed by myself and later altered by the landlord and my agent has no concern on that. If the landlord wants to alter something, it must be agreed by both parties(this is applicable not only for LOI, any agreements between two parties). And they are not willing to return the good faith deposit.

I believe LOI is a valid document and it is a contract between you and the landlord for agreeing preliminary terms and conditions with respect your requirements, reserving the property for you and agents commission etc..until the TA is signed(need to sign TA within 1 week of LOI - I think)

Another clause in LOI is , GST is applicable to commission as per the letting agent's rule, but they will not apply this to the landlords.

The agent will ask your ID copy for landlord, but sometimes they are reluctant to give the landlord's Id. The comment will be "it is too sensitive". How come the sensitivity of ID is only one sided ?

ronin013 : whatever you agree, get it in writing.
If you are unclear, don't believe the sweet words.

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Post by ronin013 » Sat, 24 Aug 2013 11:02 pm

@Roy_alt:
Thanks for your input!

Yes, I will be sure to get all agreements in writing. After reading about everyone's experiences, it is a necessity!

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Post by x9200 » Sun, 25 Aug 2013 8:55 am

Roy_alt wrote:
x9200 wrote:
As of LOI I think it is a part of the ritual - you will learn that people here are not exactly very flexible when it comes to stuff like this. You may have problems in changing anything in your TA. You will hear from the agents "this is a standard clause".
You are right x9200 the agents will always say "It is The Industry standard". But for the Landlord it is not applicable.

It is applicable to nobody. There is no specific law shaping the rental contracts and the agents could not care less. They just want to close the deal and cash their cheques. Interacting with the LL trying to explain the points majority of the agents find unimportant or simply not possible to understand goes in the opposite direction.


I believe LOI is a valid document and it is a contract between you and the

As I said, LOI is worth nothing. It is a memorandum, meeting minutes from a virtual session with your potential LL to be. Show me any reliable webpage that says it is something enforceable.

We just walked away from one LL after LOI was signed and good faith deposit paid. No problem a all, the cheque returned. The LL was inflexible on too many points of the TA and it looked like troubles.

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Post by Roy_alt » Sun, 25 Aug 2013 3:47 pm

Interesting..............

In my case, the LOI signed by myself gave the goodafith deposit to my agent. Agent promised me to give the LOI duplicate copy as landlords acceptance.

Cleared the cheque and later provided me a scanned copy(2nd page only) LOI in which there are some alterations which were not informed to me.

Since I felt that this LOI is not following ethics(Party B has no right to alter the documents without informing and agreeing with party A who has already agreed the terms ), informed to cancel the LOI and return the goodfaith deposit.
Reply was once the LOI is signed, the deposit can't be returned.

Suggest me what should I do as I am only 2 years in SG and not sure about the laws.

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