Ultimate HDB room rental guide in 2018 (Part 2)

Now that you have found a room through our Ultimate guide (Part 1), here is part 2 to guide you through to completion. Finding a suitable room to rent is probably the harder part of the room rental process so congrats on getting the tough part out of the way! So after shortlisting a few rooms, now it is time for the room viewing process.

Guide to Room Rental Viewing

When it comes to room rental in Singapore, the viewing process is very important especially if you are planning to rent for a longer period of time. With the availability of 3D tours, nowadays tenants are able to view prospective homes from the comfort of their own homes. Viewing multiple places can be a tiring activity, and 3D tours can greatly reduce the amount of time spent to look for a home. However, with room rentals we do recommend you to spend the time to go down to look at the rooms because you will be living with a landlord or other roommates. So by meeting and interacting with them, you will be able to gauge if the living arrangements will be a good fit or not.

Before going to view the unit

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Before your scheduled appointment, take some time and go down to the unit earlier to take a closer look at the surrounding location. There could be things you could discover about the area, like the availability of food 24/7 in the area that could swing things positively. However, there could be other things that would impact your decision negatively, such as a construction site just next to the block that you are viewing. This could mean lots of noise and drilling sounds that might be a real nuisance. There could be other things that the landlord has claimed about the area, so it is always good to check it out personally for yourself rather than setting yourself up for potential disappointment later on.

If you are selecting a room rental unit based on transportation links, do not forget to try them out and not just sign a lease based on claims from the landlord. Sometimes the walk to the MRT station may been altered due to construction or there might be paths that have a steeper incline. Of course, certain HDB units still have the benefit of sheltered walkway links to the bus stop or MRT station. These can be really beneficial due to Singapore’s tropical climate.

At the Room Rental Viewing

Usually landlords will set aside 10 to 15 minutes depending on the size of the apartment for a room rental viewing. The time taken will of course depend on whether there are shared facilities such as the living and kitchen areas.

During the viewing take the time to ask all the questions you need. Also, try to speak to the landlord or other sub tenants to see if you are able to get along with them.

Here is a list of things you might want to think about and clarify with the landlord. While we do not claim this to be the most comprehensive, this will certainly go a long way into helping to clear out any doubts and to establish a common understanding early on.

  1. If different race and religion, how tolerant are you of their religious practices. How tolerant are they of yours?
  2. If it is a fully furnished room, check if everything you are seeing at the viewing will come with the rental. If you do not see items like a bed, and these are promised by the landlord to be purchased new when the rental lease is signed, get this down in writing and make sure it is signed by both parties. There have been cases of some landlords delaying to get the promised items, so establish a time that it will be purchased in writing.
  3. If there are items in the room that you do not require, check if they can be taken out.
  4. If it is unfurnished, check with the landlord if there are any requirements on what you can bring in.
  5. For monthly utilities, check if this will be included in the rent or are you expected to contribute? Sometimes air conditioning can be a separate charge or utilities will be shared amongst all the tenants so please check early on.
  6. If you are staying for a longer period of time and would like to decorate your room a little, check to what extent are you able to do minor renovations or decorating.
  7. Check with the landlord when was the last time renovation or servicing for the air conditioning unit was done. You do not want to have to deal with these issues once the lease is signed.
  8. If you are renting a master bedroom, confirm with the landlord that the bathroom is exclusively yours to use and that everything is in working order.
  9. Ask about the living and kitchen, to what extent are these shared.
  10. If cooking or light cooking is allowed, ask to what extent of cooking is permissible. Some landlords state that light cooking is allowed but this is really only to boil instant noodles. So check early on to prevent any disagreements later.

Living Environment

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Source: Renopedia

If you do spend a lot of time at work and the room rental is purely just for the room, this might not be as big of a concern to you. However, if you are looking for a comfortable living situation and would like a nice living room to relax in, there are certain rental units available where the landlord will hardly be around much so these will be ideal for you.

Next, if you are planning on doing a lot of cooking examining the kitchen would be one of your priorities. Some landlords might only have a counter stove and no oven or microwave so you will have to adjust your expectations accordingly to what level of cooking you would be able to do. Of course, some landlords could be into cooking and baking so they might have all the kitchen appliances at hand. So if you do come across that you can thank your lucky stars!

When it is time to look at the room, remember to bring a tape measure. This will come in handy especially for rooms that are unfurnished as you will be expected to provide your own furniture. Most HDB rooms that you will come across will not deviate much in size. In general, rooms in Singapore are not very spacious. They are not tiny like in Hong Kong, but for some rooms if you want to fit in a queen size bed it might result in the room looking quite squeezy.

Other Considerations for your Room Rental

If you are considering an HDB room rental, it will be wise to read up more about HDB rental guidelines. You want to be aware of the guidelines because in case of any illegal rental, you will not be able to make any complaint to HDB about it. Also, if there are any ground of illegal renting from the landlord, you will have to vacate and start the whole search for a room rental from scratch!

If you are looking for a condo room rental because of the facilities but are on a tight budget, first ask yourself if paying for the premium for the facilities is worth the monthly outlay. Depending on the location you are looking at, you can also consider the public gyms or swimming pools in Singapore. These usually require an affordable entrance fee so you can look to pay whenever you need to use these facilities.

Sometimes when looking for a condo room rental, you will come across some listings which have an affordable price. These are usually the older apartments. You should bear in mind that the property market has been on an en bloc spree recently. So keep a watch out of those properties that have en bloc potential. If you are looking to stay for an extended period of time you do not want to be forced to find a new room rental again!

Contracts and Guidelines

Security Deposit

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The amount of security deposit is usually dependant on the length of the Tenancy Agreement (TA). So it is usually one month of rent per year of lease. Do note that this is always negotiable, especially for room rentals where some landlords will understand that cash flow might be tight. So there have been cases where the landlord accepts half a month security deposit to secure a one year lease. The security depost will have to be paid upon the signing of the TA. Unlike some other countries, the security deposit will be kept with the owner. This will be refunded back once the tenancy is up.

Letter of Intent (LOI)

This is not necessarily required in the rental process, but some landlords do require this, more so if their unit is very in demand. So if you are looking to secure an in demand room rental, an LOI will help to confirm the unit and signal your strong interest to the landlord. At the same time, once the landlord has signed the LOI, he or she will not be able to discuss with any other prospective tenants.

There have been cases of a verbal agreement between landlord and tenant about the room rental. Only for the tenant to find out later on that the landlord has been soliciting for higher rental fee from others! So it is in these situations that the LOI comes in very handy to protect your interests.

What you should include in your LOI

Typically, whatever is included in your LOI will be drafted into the TA so make sure that you have included everything that you require inside the LOI.

Here are some points that you should take note of:

1. Length of Lease
2. Good Faith Deposit
This is also commonly termed as the booking deposit. So once the landlord signs the LOI and takes the deposit, he or she will not be able to discuss with anyone else. Upon the signing of the TA, this deposit will automatically become the security deposit.
3. Security Deposity
4. Diplomatic Clause
This clause protects tenants who are not Singaporean by allowing you to break the contract should you be transferred out of Singapore by your employer, have your working contract be terminated, or for any reason should you be ordered to leave Singapore. The rule of thumb here is usually six months per year of lease. So for example, if you signed a one year lease, the minimum stay required would be six months plus a two month notice period for a total of 8 months.
5. Rental Amount
6. LOI Expiry Date
You should always include an LOI expiry date. So if the landlord does not sign by a certain date, he or she will be required to return you the deposit.

Tenancy Agreement (TA)

Once the LOI has been signed, the TA will have to be prepared. The TA will be the official document for the leasing of the room. Other than the points from the LOI you should consider some of these points to be added into the TA.

1. Other Requirements
Other requirements that have been verbally agreed on should always be included in the TA. This includes issues like the agreement to be able to keep a pet in the room, or a promise from the landlord to provide for a new bed (by a certain date) once the TA has been signed.

2. Maintenance
Depending on the TA, this will have to be a figure agreed on between the landlord and you. Do remember to do a thorough search and check of the room so that you can report any defects or issues before the tenancy commences. You are able to negotiate on the amount that you are willing to pay for minor repairs throughout the course of your tenancy. But make sure that for any major repairs that these will be covered by the landlord.

3. Terms of Payment
Do take a look at the late rental charges as sometimes this can be very strict towards late payments.

We hope this has gone some way into helping you secure your ideal room rental! If you like to go through it again, you can always jump to Part 1! As always, feel free to leave a comment or if you like to ask us anything you can reach us at hello@stackedhomes.com!


Sean has a writing experience of 3 years and is currently with Stacked Homes focused on general property research, helping to pen articles focused on condos. In his free time, he enjoys photography and coffee tasting.

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