Saturday, January 14, 2012

Rented a flat at last!

I have finally found an HDB flat for rent after looking for an HDB flat for months. Although the price was higher than I was planning to pay, at least the unit was deserving it. As I have written before, it was a very frustrating process at the beginning thanks to the new lows of Singapore property agents but luckily I have started very early to look for one and did not have to end up with an inferior but expensive unit. Big bonus was that at the end, I did not pay a penny to any property agent.

Do not get me wrong: I advise you to work with a licensed property agent if you are looking for a place to rent, especially if you are new to Singapore. if you do not know what you are doing, you may end up with a rental scam. But if you are new here you should also know that for every good property agent out there, "there are two more that make parasites look good by comparison".

Anyway, I have realized that not all the steps involved and items to be careful about are written in a single place so I will write a check list here to rent a flat in Singapore.

1 - Find a good property agent. This is important and based on my own experienced best are found by reference. Ask to your friends and colleagues to find one which they worked and liked the service. Second best option is the newspaper classified pages and I personally stay away from big property portals. Check How to find a good property agent in Singapore for details.

2 - Find a landlord property agent. This is the best you can get. It involves an agent and you also do not pay for the agent fee. In Singapore a property agent cannot represent both sides and collect money from both sides. The landlord agents usually start with an ad in newspaper or internet and tenant agents find them. Be the one finding them. But doesn't it mean that he/she will protect landlord's interest and will not care about yours? Well first, your friendly tenant agent will probably not care about your interest. Second, this is usually not the case. I have rented my new flat like this and although I have worked with a very good agent which did a very good job even for our side. And 2 months before, one of my colleagues rented a very reasonable 2+1 HDB for a very reasonable price (1,700 SGD per month) on Bedok Reservoir Road through an agent and although her agent was also good, landlord's agent was great. Simply call the ad and ask whether the agent is working for landlord or a tenant agent. You can save thousands if you can find a landlord agent.  Refer How to rent a flat in Singapore without paying property agent fee? article for details.

3 - Check the license of the agent. This is very easy and sure way that you will not have any big problem like falling into a scam and if things go wrong, you will have a legitimate party to blame. You can do it online and make sure that the man/woman on the photo in the web site is the one you are engaging with. See  How to avoid rental scam in Singapore for details.

4 - Avoid rental scams. Here is an article that lists a checklist from Singapore Police to avoid rental scams. Renting a flat without agent is possible but if you want to follow that way make sure everything is checked.

5 - Follow the procedures of renting a property in Singapore. After we have viewed the flat and decided to rent it, we have visited it for a second time to check if everything is in working condition and there is any major problem in the house. This is important before the next step is giving a letter of intent. You should list any request you have from the landlord (in our case the washing machine was just ultra old so we have requested them to change it which they have accepted) there.

Next, we have signed the tenancy agreement.  I have heard people signing tenancy agreement without letter of intent right away but usually these 2 steps are followed. You should not pay any deposit until the tenancy agreement is signed. If you will pay the deposit at the time of the tenancy agreement signing, do not pay cash but use check. If you do not have check, you can get a one time check from the bank which costs $5 only for admission fees.

You should also not pay the rent until keys are handed over to you. Again pay by check if the bank transfer is not possible. Do not pay cash without documentation. If you have also not done until now, go around the house with agent or the landlord and make sure to document all defects before getting the keys. Other than documenting we have also photographed them and mailed to the agent. It is important to look at the details and make sure that the air conditioning units, television, refrigerator, washing machine and etc. are working.

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