Short Term Rental in Singapore: A Guide for New Tenants & Landlords

by Laura Lim

Looking for a short-term rental while waiting for your BTO flat completion? Wondering how you can rent out that extra bedroom so you can collect money instead of dust? You are not alone!

The trend of renting property is Singapore has been on the rise since 2009 as more Singaporeans seek to have their own space and privacy. And especially so during this COVID period, where work-from-home situations have prompted more young Singaporeans to seek their own personal space.

In this simplified guide for new tenants and aspiring landlords, we hope to address some common questions and things to look out for when it comes to short term rentals in Singapore:

  • What is the Minimum Rental Period for Short Term Rentals?
  • Who is Eligible for Short Term Rentals?  – Tenants and Landlords
  • How to Start Renting (Out Your Flat)?
  • Living with a Tenant or Landlord 101

What is the Minimum Rental Period for Short Term Rentals?

As all residential properties are meant to be for long-term residence, the law does not allow for them to be used for short term accommodation (less than 3 consecutive months).

Yes, so if you are thinking of renting out your home as an Airbnb for those daily and weekly rentals – it is technically illegal under the law. Fines for homeowners caught of such offences have been fined from $13,000 – $70,000. So, rent at your own risk.

For legal short-term rentals, there are some criteria that tenants and landlords need to take note:

Minimum 6 consecutive months  

Occupancy cap is 4 persons to a flat for 1- and 2-room flats and 6 persons to a flat for 3-room and bigger flats.
Minimum 3 consecutive months  

With occupancy cap of up to 6 unrelated persons per property

HDB flats tend to have a little more restrictions when it comes to short term rentals compared to private housing:

  • To rent out the whole HDB flat: Only possible after the Minimum Occupation Period – usually 3 – 5 years depending on the type of flat
  • To rent out to non-Singaporeans: Subject to non-Citizen Quota to maintain ethnic mix (there is a cap for each neighbourhood or block) so this could limit your choices of rental flats or expat tenants
  • Require HDB’s prior written approval before rental can commence
  • And a whole lot more detailed restrictions you can read up at HDB’s website

If you are good with the above terms and conditions, you are halfway there.

Who is Eligible for Short Term Rentals?

Now to check your eligibility. To avoid ending up on the wrong side of the law, make sure you check for your eligibility or your tenant’s eligibility before signing on the dotted line.

Types of Eligible Tenants:

  • Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents
  • Non-citizens who are legally allowed in Singapore (Employment pass, S pass, Work Permit, Student pass, Dependent pass or Long-term social visit pass holders)
  • Corporate tenants (as long as they plan to house eligible tenants)

There is a special clause to note that Work Permit holders in the construction, manufacturing, processing, and marine sectors who are non-Malaysians are not eligible for short term rentals.

As you can see tourists do not fall under the list of eligible tenant types – so if you rent your HDB or private property to them, the risk will fall on you the property owner.

How to Start Renting (Out Your Flat)?

Now that you have ticked all the checkboxes, how do you get started?

For Tenants:

  1. Start your search online on property rental sites to look out for your specific location needs and budget
  2. Create a shortlist of properties that appeal to you and reach out to the landlords or agents to arrange a viewing
  3. Take time out to view the properties in person and see if it lives up to your expectation in real life. This is also the perfect time to clarify any rules or questions about the rental bill.
  4. Negotiate the terms and formalize it with a tenancy agreement. Make sure you check all the clauses and fine print, so you do not get into a dispute in the future.
  5. Do a joint apartment inspection before getting your keys. Take pictures of the condition of the place before moving in and have your landlord signoff, so you will not be held responsible for these damages in the future.

For Landlords:

  1. Stage your room or apartment and take nice accurate pictures to create listings on property website.
  2. If you think that might be too much work, hire a property agent to do this on your behalf! While there is the added commission cost, they will arrange the viewings and negotiate with the tenants on your behalf.
  3. Similar to tenant’s Step 4 and 5. Make sure you be clear about the rules and guidelines (see below for some tips) upfront, so you do not get into unwanted disputes in future.

Living with a Tenant or Landlord 101

If this is the first time you are moving into a rental space or renting out your property, here are some things to look out for:

  • Know what is included and not included in the monthly rent: This may sound obvious, but in the excitement of getting a new place, things could get missed out on.
    • Are utilities included? If not, how is it split?
    • What repairs are included and what is not?
    • Is aircon maintenance required by tenant or borne by landlord?
  • Be clear about the house rules: As a tenant, make sure you check with the landlord on what are their expectations so you do not step on their toes or give them a reason to evict you in the future. As a landlord, be upfront about your limits so the tenant can decide if it is suitable for them.
    • Is cooking allowed?
    • Can you invite visitors to the flat?
    • Are you allowed to use the common spaces like the living room?
    • Any curfews?

Ready to Kickstart Your Short-Term Rental Journey?

We hope our simple guide for tenants and landlords for short-term rentals have been helpful in kickstart your journey!

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