Singapore Renting Guide: Leases, Licenses & How To’s

5 min read|Last Updated: September 13, 2023|

To rent is to engage into a legally binding contract that provides an individual, organization, or entity with the privilege to inhabit and utilize a property owned by a different party for a defined duration.

If you are a foreigner, being a permanent resident is not necessary to rent an apartment. You will need an Employment or student Visa which is valid for at least 6 months. If you require assistance in getting an Employment Pass, feel free to engage with our service here.

Lease VS License

The terms “lease” and “tenancy” are often used interchangeably in the Singaporean context, as the only difference is the duration of stay.

Lease License 
Rental period  Typically 6 months – 2 years   Short term, temporary basis (Eg: when renting an Airbnb)  
Propriety rights  A lease grants the tenant a form of proprietary interest in the property. Under a lease arrangement, the tenant possesses the right to transfer the property to a third party (subject to common law and property-specific conditions) with legally enforceable implications.   When a tenant holds a license, they lack the authority to transfer the property to someone else or take legal action for issues like trespassing or disturbances. In such cases, even if a friend stays temporarily, they are granted a license to reside, not a formal lease. 
Right to sue for actions of trespass  Yes No
Requirement for Registration   Yes No

Renting Options: HBD Flats or Condominiums

One option for rent is Housing & Development Board (HDB) flats – they are public housing Managed by the Housing and Development Board, this system provides an avenue for individuals to access well-constructed residences at reasonable rates, available both for rent and purchase. Non-citizens legally residing in Singapore, possessing a Student Pass, are eligible to rent an HDB flat, provided the pass remains valid for at least six months from the application date.

On the other hand, privately owned residential buildings such as condominiums extend the privilege of ownership to foreign citizens – a distinction from the HDB flats. These residences offer an elevated level of security and privacy in comparison to HDBs, making them an appealing choice for those seeking a more exclusive living experience. Condos boast an array of amenities, encompassing swimming pools, fitness centers, and heightened security measures. However, the enhanced features are counterbalanced by higher maintenance fees. Additionally, condominiums are generally more lenient towards accommodating pets, a facet that differs significantly from the stricter policies observed in HDB flats.

How To Rent a Property in Singapore

Here are the general steps for renting a property in Singapore:

  • Get an Agent or Get in touch with the Landlord directly: Decide between these two options to inquire about available properties.

  • Property Viewing: Arrange appointments to visit properties of interest. This enables you to personally evaluate the condition, layout, and suitability of each property. 

  • Negotiation and Offer: If you discover a suitable property, present either an informal or formal offer to the landlord. If needed, engage in discussions to finalize rental terms acceptable to both parties. The Letter of Intent (LOI) will then be issued to outline your intention to lease and your requirements for the property. Include these in the LOI:

    • Diplomatic or Repatriate Clause: Protects you by allowing lease termination after 12 months with 2 months’ notice if employment changes.
    • Good faith Deposit (booking deposit): One month’s rent to secure the property.
    • Security Deposit: Usually a month’s rent per year of lease, refundable minus damages.
    • Term of Lease: Typically over 1 year with options to renew.
    • Your Requirements: Specify all requests clearly in the LOI.
  • Tenancy Agreement: After accepting the LOI, the landlord provides the Tenancy Agreement within 7 days. This agreement is based on the LOI and should be carefully reviewed, including the inventory list, as it’s essential for dispute resolution.

    These documents might also be required:

    • Singapore Identification Card, Student Visa, LTSV Pass, Dependant Pass, Work Permit, S Pass, or Employment Pass (Copy and original version)
    • foreign passport (Copy and original version)
    • Payment amount allocated for one-month advance rental fee, security deposit, tenant stamp duty, and Public Utilities Board (PUB) deposit
    • Local contact number and email, facilitating communication with the property agent and/or prospective landlord
  • Financial Obligations: Prepare for financial responsibilities, including paying a security deposit (1-3 months’ rent), potential agency fees, and stamp duty. Stamp duty, a tax on property documents, must be paid within 14 days of signing the TA.

    You may also encounter the following additional expenses:

    • Good Faith Deposit and Security Deposits One month’s rent for a one-year lease Two months’ rent for a two-year lease Initial month’s rental fees
    • Agent Fees (if applicable) Conventional market rate: 2% Ohmyhome’s rate: 1% of the sale price + GST
    • Furnishings Depending on personal preferences: Fully-furnished or half-furnished options
    • External Utility Bills (gas, water, electricity) Estimated range: $40-60 per month
    • External Internet Bills Estimated range: $20-30 per month
    • If you are the sole provider, sufficient insurance to cover rent
  • Property Handover: On the agreed lease commencement or an earlier possession date, the property is officially transferred to you, marking the start of your occupancy.

Things to take note of

  • Punctual Payment: The renting agreement outlines the rent fees, excluding management fees and rates. It’s crucial to specify the payment schedule (usually monthly) and method (check, cash, or bank transfer). In cases where the tenant has repeatedly failed to uphold the terms outlined in the contract or tenancy agreement, an eviction notice can be issued.
  • Utilities & Maintenance: Unless otherwise noted, tenants are accountable for utility costs such as phone, gas, and electricity. Negotiations may incorporate these expenses into the contract terms.

  • Furnished Arrangements: Creating a comprehensive list of the furniture and appliances provided under the lease is essential. While certain items might be provided (such as stovetops, refrigerators, and washing machines), there could be exclusions from the arrangement.


Come to our office or get in touch virtually for a consultation on your company incorporation with employment pass, and other corporate services.


Who can rent a property in Singapore as a foreigner?2023-09-13T11:11:11+08:00

Foreigners with a valid Employment or Student Visa, valid for at least 6 months, can rent a property in Singapore.
Permanent residency is not required.

What is the difference between a lease and a license in Singapore?2023-09-13T11:09:31+08:00

A lease typically lasts 6 months to 2 years, while a license is for short-term, temporary stays (e.g., Airbnb).
Under a lease, tenants have proprietary rights, can transfer the property, and have the right to sue for trespass.
A license does not grant these rights and has no registration requirement.

What are the general steps to rent a property in Singapore?2023-09-13T10:49:44+08:00

Choose between using an agent or contacting the landlord directly.
Schedule property viewings to assess suitability.
Negotiate terms and issue a Letter of Intent (LOI) with details such as diplomatic clauses and deposits.
Review and sign the Tenancy Agreement within 7 days.

What documents are needed to rent a property in Singapore?2023-09-13T10:46:43+08:00

Singapore ID, Student Visa, LTSV Pass, Dependant Pass, Work Permit, S Pass, or Employment Pass (copy and original).
Foreign passport (copy and original).
Payment for advance rental, security deposit, tenant stamp duty, and PUB deposit.
Local contact number and email for communication.

What are the financial obligations when renting in Singapore?2023-09-13T10:36:38+08:00

Prepare for security deposit (1-3 months’ rent), potential agency fees, and stamp duty.
Additional expenses may include good faith deposit, agent fees, furnishings, utility bills, and internet bills.

How can expats get assistance with Employment Pass applications in Singapore?2023-09-13T10:31:15+08:00

At Paul Hype Page, we offer assistance with the application of an Employment Pass. Read here for more information.

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