Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How to avoid rental scam in Singapore

We have previously written about the common rental scams in Singapore and  in a previous article, we have also mentioned that Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), the statutory board regulating estate agents in Singapore has recently released a consumer guideline named "Consumer Tips for Engaging a Real Estate Salesperson" which lists a lot of useful tips for consumers.

Although rare, rental scams in Singapore still exists and you should follow the right steps to ensure that you do not fall pray to one of these scams. Recently, a 53 years old man is arrested after Singapore Police received 2 reports on flat rental scams involving a unit located in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4. The suspect arranged for "unsuspecting victims to view the unit and thereafter collected deposits and rental advances from them. Preliminary investigations revealed that he had collected over $6000/- from the victims. After collecting the money, the suspect became uncontactable."

On this issue, CEA released an advisory for consumers to remind that (a) one should verify the identity of your salesperson using the Public Register in CEA web site, (b) respond only to the advertisements that provide the salesperson's details and registration number and (c) report to CEA if one encounters a person carrying out estate agency work but who are not listed on the Public Register.[2]

Police further advises for potential tenants to

1) visit the unit to verify the existence of the unit: This is important since there are some rental scams involving non existent flat especially praying on people who are relocating to Singapore or existing but occupied flats.

2) request the HDB flat owner to show you the original copy of the approval letter from HDB if you are renting the whole HDB flat

3) verify the identities of the person whom you are dealing with and their relationship to the housing unit, especially when you are not engaging the services of a licensed estate agent or registered salespersons.: One other common scam method is a con artist somehow having access to a unit (i.e. a relative) showing victim a unit and collecting money for it and disappear.  

4 ) You should confirm their identities against the originals and you should meet the house owner;

5) Do not make any advance payment until the tenancy is confirmed. Police reminds that for HDB flats, you should request the flat owner to register your particulars with HDB immediately via My HDBPage instead of the usual 7 days:

"To safeguard your interest, you should stamp your Tenancy Agreement with Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS). For more information on stamping, please visit the IRAS website at
As far as possible, do not make payments using huge sums of cash. You should try to pay the rental deposit and rents by cheque or via bank transfer for documentary proof."[1]

[1] - Rental Scammer Arrested
[2] - CEA Consumer Guides

No comments:

Post a Comment