Renting out a room in Singapore is one of the many ways to earn passive income in Singapore.

As long as you have a spare room or two, you can make it homely for a possible tenant and earn some cash while at it. How to do that? We’re here to guide you through it.

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Ensure that you can rent your unit legally

First, make sure that you don’t get on the wrong side of the law by getting up to speed on rental rules, which are stricter for renting out HDB units.

For HDBs, you can rent only if you have achieved the 5-year Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP) and you have not maxed out the occupancy limit. For 3-room apartments, you can rent out 1 room at most, for up to 6 occupants in total (including landlords). For 4-room apartments, you can rent out a maximum of 2 rooms, for up to 6 occupants in total (including landlords).

1-room or 2-room flat owners cannot rent out single rooms. However, they can rent the entire unit to a maximum of 4 tenants. For those renting out an entire unit that is 3-room or larger, they cannot house more than 6 tenants.

Also, if you are renting out the entire flat, at least one of the occupiers must be a Singapore Citizen. 

If you’re not sure whether you can rent out your property, check MyHDB page. Login with your SingPass details and then check My Flat, under “Renting Out Flat”. 

Take note! The minimum rental period for HDB flats is 6 months, and 3 months for private properties.

How much does it cost to rent in Singapore? 

After you’ve confirmed that you are eligible to rent out your unit, you have to price your unit. A simple way to see the demand of rental units in your estate, and how much others are renting out for, is to do a quick check on online portals such as 99.co, propertyguru.sg and even Carousell. 

If you are renting the whole unit, another way is to go to HDB’s website and refer to past HDB rental transaction median prices.

Upon a quick cursory search, rental for a common bedroom in a HDB flat is between $650 to $1,000 depending on location, how furnished the room is, and whether utilities are included or not. A master bedroom costs more to rent as it comes with a private en-suite bathroom.

You may also rent one room to a few tenants who will share one room, as long as it is within occupancy limit.

Needless to say, rent for private properties are higher since the tenant has access to condo facilities and higher security. 

Advertise your room or unit

You can advertise your rental room on the same online platforms that we mentioned: 99.co, propertyguru.sg and Carousell. Alternatively, try Facebook Marketplace, or groups like FindYourRoom. Such groups have become popular avenues for expat tenants to go when they are looking for a rental home.

When shouting out about your property, don’t forget to list down the unique selling points of your unit, such as the distance to the MRT, surrounding amenities, and so on.

Conduct viewings

Once you start receiving interest in your unit, you can open up your home for prospective tenants. During the viewing, find out where your prospective tenants work and what kind of lifestyle they lead. Also, check on how long they want to lease and when they intend to move in.

This is especially important for live-in landlords who are only renting out part of the home. Don’t be afraid to discuss some ground rules as well, because as much as you want to sell your unit to the prospective tenants, don’t forget, once the contract is inked, he or she will be living with you.

Verify identity of your tenant

If the tenant is more or less decided on your unit, you’d want to verify his or her nationality, age, name, and work pass type. This is just so that you don’t end up housing an illegal immigrant, or fall to a sub-letting scam.

You can take a photo of their IC or work permit and check with ICA’s iEnquiry System.

Heads-up: If you are renting to a foreigner who is not Malaysian, you need to check HDB’s non-citizen quota on the HDB e-service page. There are specific percentages set for the entire block and neighbourhood, which are 11% and 8% respectively.

Write down terms in black and white in a Letter of Intent

All's looking good? It’s time to proceed to ink the deal. Whatever that you have verbally discussed about the lease term and move-in date, note down these details in writing and have your tenant sign it as a Letter of Intent.

Clearly spell out what the rental cost includes in the Letter of Intent. Does it include electricity, Wi-Fi, and utilities? Can your tenant have visitors? Is cooking allowed?

You may also want to collect a deposit so that you know that your tenant is serious about renting. Typically, landlords collect a month’s worth of rent as a goodwill deposit. It can be used to pay first month’s rent or be converted as a security deposit. As a responsible landlord, you will also detail in writing when you will refund this money.

Once these are done, it’s time to pull the listing from Facebook marketplace, 99.co, propertyguru, Carousell, or wherever else you’ve spread the word about your unit as you are now certain that your tenant is sincere.

Get approval from HDB 

Officially apply with HDB for an approval online through the HDB portal. Fill in your tenant’s particulars and pay the application fee of $20, and you got all the legitimate right to now welcome your tenant home. 

Sign the Tenancy Agreement Form 

As a landlord, you are responsible for drafting up the Tenancy Agreement Form. When the tenant signs it, he or she is legally bound to terms within. It should detail what’s already in your Letter of Intent, and more details such as: 

  • Property address

  • Landlord’s particulars, tenant’s particulars 

  • Commencement date of lease, duration of rental, rental amount 

  • House rules in detail

  • Security deposit amount (usually 1 to 3 months) 

  • Maintenance of furniture, appliances, air-conditioner 

  • Interest payable for late rental payments 

  • Potential to renew at the end of lease 

  • When landlord can start to open the house for viewing before lease ends 

  • Notice period of tenant decides to leave Singapore or is terminated from job (for long-term leases)

  • Early termination clause, to include any other scenarios that will end the lease prematurely, insert into the agreement (e.g. en-bloc sale) 

Remind tenant to pay rental stamp duty 

Yes, tenants also have to pay stamp duty.

It is a tax on the Tenancy Agreement, amounting to 0.4% of the total rent (whole lease term). Your tenant can pay rental stamp duty via the IRAS website. The stamp duty has to be paid 14 days after the signing of the Tenancy Agreement. Penalties apply for late payment!

Home sweet home, tenant! 

Just like how we always ensure to take pictures of a rental car to prove its original condition, the tenant has the right to inspect your flat and confirm the flat's original condition before moving in.

You can prepare a list of appliances and furniture in the room so it is easy for you to check and tick off when the tenant leaves as well.  

Good job for going through the formal processes, landlord! You can now pass your tenant the keys to your abode and collect that sweet monthly rent.

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GoBear team

Brought to you by GoBear Insurance Broker (SG) Pte. Ltd., a registered insurance broker with the Monetary Authority of Singapore

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