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Asia USA Realty (Singapore) Pte Ltd
Real Estate Department - Houses For Rent

Last updated: 20 Mar 2010
Focus:  We get for you affordable Singapore homes.  Rent or Investment
YOU WANT to rent or buy Singapore homes? E-mail details of your specifications  to or Tel: +65 9668 6468, 6254 3326, 9668 6469. Fax: +65 6256 0501 for viewing or updates.  E-mail or fax house-hunting form to us at 6256-0501 and we will contact you within 24- 48 hours.
Last updated: 20 Mar 2010

Research supported by Asiahomes Internet. This Singapore real estate research report on the HDB system is sponsored by Asiahomes Internet.

Expats relocating to Singapore to note:

1. If they rent units with "one room locked", they are violating Singapore Government regulations if the Owner does NOT reside in the apartment. HDB officials may be knocking at your doors, usually in the evenings if there are complaints of illegal subletting.

2. Try to rent an HDB apartment with official approval, otherwise you may face sudden eviction or blackmail. Unfortunately, there are very few units with official approval. Such approval is given to a few Owners who are:

living abroad or have to live and work in their shop houses or look after ill parents by living in the parent's residence. It may be better to rent a private apartment. Rents have dropped to as low as S$1,200 for older private apartments. Contact for details.

3. The HDB system is that foreigners can rent HDB bedrooms, not the whole apartment if the Owner does not have official approval. In this situation, the Owner must be sharing the apartment with the tenants or landlords. 

Most foreigners, especially newly married, don't like this arrangement. Therefore, the Owner "locks one room" to show the HDB official that he is only subletting the one or 2 bedrooms and this is perfectly legal if the Owner really lives in the apartment. Some Owners do go back a few times a week but most don't. The HDB has publicised in the newspapers some years ago that they do not recognise the "locked one room".

However, it will need private investigators and surveillance to prove that the Owners have sub-letted the whole apartment. Realtors had had been warned by the HDB officials, the biggest Landlord in Singapore that their licences will be revoked if they are involved. Nowadays, the wordings "locked one room" no longer is advertised.

How are Owners caught?

3.1 Complaints from neighbours to the HDB. Most Singaporeans don't do that unless the illegal Tenant of the apartment is a nuisance.

3.2 Tenants renting the "locked one room" opens a utilities account in Tenant's name.

3.3 The rent for the "locked one room" apartment is higher than if one room is sublet.

3.4 The penalty is the loss of the apartment and this had happened before.

3.5 Many foreigners will rather not be involved in breaking Singapore law and since the rent of private properties have dropped by at least 30% in most cases, the tendency is to rent private housing. They are worried that they may lose their employment passes or work permits by participating in illegal subletting. However, HDB apartments are still much cheaper to many expatriates and are value-for-money. Some of the 3-bedroom and maisonettes are really spacious and there are so many amenities, markets and shops within the neighbourhood.

3.6 Some Caucasian wives dislike being the only foreigner in HDB neighbourhood and have heard of horror stories of urine smell inside elevators. The majority of HDB elevators nowadays do not have urine smell.

3.7 It is very risky for HDB owners, especially older folks and children, to lift a long bamboo pole of wet clothing out of the HDB kitchen window and then swing it and pull it back to fit it into the pole holder. One may over-stretch and fall down the apartment block.

It is hoped that the new generation of HDB architects may resolve this problem of having to hang clothing on bamboo poles but this is the cheapest method of drying clothes, using sunlight.

3.8 It is better to rent the newer units, less than 5 years old.

UPDATE IN 2003 - Relaxation of the HDB flat renting rules

1.  Since Jan 1, 2003, an owner who is NOT receiving an HDB subsidy or loan for his HDB apartment, has lived for at least 10 YEARS in a flat bought on the RESALE market can lease out the whole unit. Around 15,000 HDB owners are eligible to lease out their entire units under this scheme but very few do so.

2. Around 7,400 flats were given approval for a full lease at end of Dec 2002 based on criteria in
living abroad or have to live and work in their shop houses or look after ill parents by living in the parent's residence.

3. There are around 738,000 HDB flats at end of Dec 2002.

4. A single HDB bedroom rents around $200. A 3-bedroom HDB flat rents around $1,000 - $1,500 depending on size, location and quality.

There are around 783,000 HDB flats at end 2002.

UPDATE IN 2004 - Relaxation of the HDB flat renting rules
HDB owners can rent out their apartments even though they have received an HDB subsidy or loan for his HDB apartment. It is best to phone the HDB or consult your housing agent as regards the latest ruling. HDB charges a fee, around $20, to approve the leasing of the whole HDB apartment as well as informing the Comptroller of Property Tax.

UPDATE IN 2006 - 2007  Relaxation of the HDB flat renting rules
HDB owners can rent out their apartments with HDB approval. Best is to get professional advice from the housing agent or go to the HDB to get the latest ruling.


Our housing agents manage HDB and other condos for absentee owners. Many Singaporeans have to work overseas and will need a housing agent to professionally manage their apartments especially in monthly checks for illegal occupants, attending to queries from the government authorities, collection of rentals, advertising for tenants and making sure the apartment is well maintained and providing a monthly e-mail report to the owners.

Our management fees start from S$150 per month and may be up to S$300.  This fee includes monthly inspection and check on illegal occupants and an e-mail report to the owners. An exclusive management and marketing agreement is required. Minor repairs and advertisements for rental at least once per week are payable in advance by the owner.  Additional apartment or house visits are charged at S$30 per visit.

We try to minimise expenses for the absentee owners. Owners are advised to use their own contractors for minor repairs. Do contact if you need rental housing or rental housing management.

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