Sunday, September 02, 2007

Rental Guidelines - Singapore

The below guidelines are drafted in making a better living place for innocents in Singapore. These are only guidelines, make appropriate addition and modifications on case to case basis. Don't be a looser in any case.

  1. Always go for approved HDB flats or private condominium.
  2. Never pay more than 1 month rental deposit and 1 month advance rental when u sign a new contract. Agents commission is half month's rent for housing contract, as the rentals are now sky rocking we should press for 2year contract with half month's agent commission.
  3. Avoid taking houses where the owner is letting out flat for 1st time.
  4. Avoid taking houses which are unoccupied previously.
  5. If a tenant is staying there take feedback from him regarding the owner, house, why he is leaving the house, etc. It is likely that the tenant may tell u something which the owner or agent won't tell you.
  6. If the house is approved, always go for a Utility account in your name or else get the original bill from the owner. PUB sometimes gives away discounts on the utility bill which the owner may not pass on to us
  7. Do not believe the owner if he says he is going out of country (for work/business) and won't come for 1 year or so. It can so be that he will be in Singapore. Also do not fully trust the agent. He might be involved with the owner in luring you to take the house.
  8. I have learnt from reliable sources that there is/are a group of agents who look for owners having money problems. They assure the owners that they can get tenants who are ready to pay advance rents (4/5 months) but in return the owner has to pay them a premium amount above the agent commission. This way the agents earn good money in a single deal. In this case follow point 2 above.
  9. Deal only with registered Agents , ask them for their registration number etc.
  10. Demand and get your receipts for Agent commission with GST paid, make sure that the receipt hold registration number of the agent. collect the Agent's IC/PR copies as well.
  11. Do never trust the owner/agent if they say the rentals are gone high so you need to double to current rental price. Ask the current Tenant how much they pay, if rent quoted looks really high increase, immediately walk out and don't deal with the agent/owner any more. We don't really need to encourage abnormal increment on the rental. After all it's our hard earned money.
  12. Never agree for 6month diplomatic clauses saying if you leave before 6 months you need to pay the whole 6 months rent plus deposit etc.
  13. While discussing with the police I understood, bank transfer of money could be treated as friendly loan and the owner/agent can escape with this point when there is a problem. Hence even if you do a bank transfer make sure you are getting a receipt for the money you transfer.
  14. Do not do a single money transaction without a valid proof/receipt.
  15. Never sign a contract in hurry, you may not notice the catch in it. There are plenty of houses, even if you loose one there is always another house awaits for you.
  16. Try not to accept visiting a house for inspection with another prospect who is also interested on the house through the same agent. Because some times the Agents are organizing such dirty tricks to make the rentals/bargain high. So, always make sure you are the person only visiting on that time slot. If you happen to visit with many other treat it as high risk in loosing money every month.
  17. Never speak to anybody saying the rents are going high, this habit encourages the owners/agents to hike the rents without any limit because we are acting as free advertisement media for them.
  18. Trust me there are good amount of Houses are available from JTC for us and approach them for getting the house of your need. Where there is no hassles and truly safe.
  19. You can also verify the ownership of the house owner with HDB for the house you are proposed to rent. By doing this you will come to know whether you are dealing with a genuine owner.
  20. While getting a furnished house, take the inventory carefully if you have a digital camera take pictures of damages in the house. It may be useful while you leaving the house. Make sure to get the inventory list signed from the Owner/Agency.
  21. Make sure the electrical equipments are inspected throughly, if you don't do it then you may have to pay for the problem it had previously.
  22. Make sure that you writing on the agreement about the owner's responsibility of repair/maintenance of any goods in the house if the charges/expense going to be above $50.
  23. Please for your own interest, take extra caution while dealing with real estate. Also never accept if the above points are not met. Because we all have heard of numerous incidents people loosing money because of their ignorance. It cost a lot!

I really hope and wish you all have a good living experience in Singapore, after all we are here to stay in Uniquely Singapore. I found most of the Singaporean neighbors are friendly with each other, so enjoy your stay!

Your critics are welcome, please find time to fill up some comments here!

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Beware of Housing Frauds in Singapore

It was a very bad experience for my friend who lost huge amount of money ($4600) on a Housing scam in Singapore. The actual experience is that my friend who is also a new comer to Singapore like me wanted to find an accommodation, The housing agents came handy in searching for a house.

In Singapore a general term is that the housing agent gets half a month of commission for finding a house. However they say they help you in dealing with the agreement etc., I found there is no registration etc. for the agreement. It's just a bit of paper written with some rules, also the agreements differs agent to agent. Some times you can find an agent registered and some work with a real estate company to assist.

So, My friend did approach an agent who was referred by one of his friend. The went and a saw a house in Balam road in Block 23. The house owner and the agent both were presented on that day my friend visit the house. The house owner quoted $1200 as monthly rent so the agent commission must by $600. Later on after fixing the rent, the agent and house owner went on a discussion and the agent came back to my friend and told him that if my friend pays 5 months advance rental(never heard of such deal) and 1 month security deposit (it's normal across the island) the owner will let the house for $1000.

Since the offer was attractive to my friend who felt he can save upto $1000 in five months time, he opt for the same and chosen it. He paid $2000 on the day he visited the house, and later on he paid $2000 through bank transfer and promised the owner of the house when he gets the key he will pay the remaining $2000. The agent was also prompt in taking his piece of cake $600 on the spot. The house owner committed he will hand over the house on 20th of August as some one else is already staying the apartment. You know what, after a weeks time, the Agent stopped picking up my friend's calls and the owner totally switched off his hand phone. My friend was in a impression he could get the key before August 20th, The time passed and the day has also came but the situation never changed.

I have joined with my friend to visit the place on August 20th to check if the owner or his representatives stays in the apartment. We got a shock as the tenant is still there on August 20th night 8:00pm. So I rushed to the nearby NPP and asked their assistance, the police called the agent he didn't pickup the call. Luckyly we had his friend's number hence the police called his friend and asked him tell his friend'd to call back. The agent promptly called, and told the police that he had an appointment with us by 9:00pm on the same day. We swear we didn't have any information like that before. So, we agreed to meet him at the location, and he came about 9:45pm saying he will help us raising a complaint, I know he was trying to escape from the situation like an approver however he was so adamant he didn't return the $600 commission as saying that is his service charges for showing the house (????)

We had tough time in getting the complaint report from the police as they said as per rules this needs to be handled with Small Claims court and directed us to the small claims court, however they gave us an incident number, finally we had pushed them to issue us a case report and successfully got it. But I should accept that the police is very friendly in Singapore however they have got some limitations handling such cases. Because of this, it's public's responsibility to be careful to avoid such experiences.

Now, my friend went to the court and they say that the agreement should hold the address of the house owner otherwise they can help and we need to approach the police. You know what my friend finally gave up and gone to his country embassy and asked they intervention in handling the case. He is also planning to approach local news papers to publish his bitter experience so that fellow Singaporean citizens and innocent foreigners will be notified for such acts.

So, guys please be aware Singapore is still low crime country and doesn't mean no crime, however this kind of cheating is treated here are civil case and cannot be counted in crime. I advice everybody to take extra caution before committing any money transactions. There are lots of cases discussed on Housing scams in here, so Beware of housing frauds in Singapore.

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