How to Find an Apartment in Singapore During the Pandemic

Moving can be tough, but moving during the pandemic is tougher.

The Editor | Sept. 2, 2021 | 772 reads
How to Find an Apartment in Singapore During the Pandemic
Credit: InSingapura.com

If you ever find yourself in a spot where you would need to move to a safer environment due to the COVID-19 situation, or for whatever reason, your landlord needs you out, read this article. It is a tricky landscape at the moment, but you can get through it.

This is a personal account of someone who decided to move to a much safer, less crowded block during the pandemic. This is how I did it.

Location, Price, and Landlord Preferences

First, determine the location where you would like to move to. Rental prices in CBD are more expensive than the heartlands (or suburbs). You can check out https://www.99.co/ for the property prices. There are other reference websites too like https://www.propertyguru.com.sg/hdb-for-rent.

One bedroom HDB flats in Singapore, specifically in Kallang, will most likely cost you S$1,700 per month exclusive of internet and utilities. Condos will cost a lot more.

Be realistic with your budget. If you want to rent a room, you can get rooms in the heartlands for S$800 inclusive of utilities (PUB).

Now, with all its talk about racial harmony, some Singapore landlords are still very particular about certain races that they would prefer to occupy their flats. I mean, I’m pretty sure you have come across “NO xxxxxx Tenant”, or “Chinese Malaysians only” have you seen?

Compile a list of 5 rental flats that you’re interested in and contact the agent on that listing. Luckily for me, all the agents I’ve reached out to have been really accommodating. If the agent is rude, strike that off your list. The agent is your main point of contact throughout your lease, remember that.

Arrange for a Viewing

The photos posted on the websites are not representative of the actual state of the flat, I guarantee you that. It is better that you see the actual location (the block, the neighbourhood, the neighbours too), the condition of the flat, and its accessibility before you rent it. Remember that most rental agreements in Singapore require a minimum of 1 year lease. If you break lease, you will not be able to get your security deposit. So make sure you will tolerate living in that flat for a year, at the very least. The landlord and I practised social distancing when I viewed the flat, with masks on.

I would also suggest viewing the flat during daytime. The darkness of the night can be deceiving.

If viewing is not possible due to mobility restrictions, ask for map. Also, it is important that you ask the agent for a live video tour of the flat. You can use Skype, Hangouts, or even WhatsApp.

During times of uncertainty, some people can be flexible. So try to haggle some discount on rent or a wiggle room for the deferment of the security deposit. However, since this is Singapore, rental discounts or deferments are highly unlikely.

Sign the Agreement and Get the Help of Movers

Once you sign the agreement and pay the documentary stamp, start packing your stuff and hire movers. It is a lot easier to move your items and disinfect the boxes in one go, so I strongly suggest hiring movers. Pack your items by yourself though, to be on the safe side.

Label the boxes according to the room they will be placed in.

There are a lot of movers who are willing to transport your items for S$200 or less. I paid S$200 for mine, but then again, I live light.

IMPORTANT! Don’t forget to update your residential address in SingPass, and your bank.

Take a Photo of the Place Once You Move In, Arrange for Disinfection

Take a Photo of the Place Once You Move In, Arrange for Disinfection
Credit: Pixabay

Take a photo of the flat to make sure that you document the current condition it is in, especially if there are cracks or damage to the place. If there are appliances that do not function, or leaks, highlight them immediately to the agent. Then document all the new appliances brought in or the repairs made.

Before you move in, make sure you disinfect the flat. You can get cleaners to do that for you. Or, you can do it yourself. Make sure you disinfect the touch points such as door handles, light switches and the like. If you feel like you need cleaners to do that, look for COVID disinfection and sanitation services online. NEA has a list of companies that can carry out disinfection works: https://www.nea.gov.sg/our-services/public-cleanliness/environmental-cleaning-guidelines/guidelines/guidelines-for-environmental-cleaning-and-disinfection

Here's a list of household products and active ingredients for surface disinfection of the COVID-19 virus from the NEA:
https://www.nea.gov.sg/our-services/public-cleanliness/environmental-cleaning-guidelines/guidelines/interim-list-of-household-products-and-active-ingredients-for-disinfection-of-covid-19

All the arrangements with the agent can be done electronically. Fund transfer for documentary stamps or rent should be done electronically to minimise contact.

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