Nov 18, 2009

Little Discoveries on the Rental Route

My wife and I have started searching for a place to rent. We checked the ads; called up several property agents; drove around the relevant neighbourhoods; and viewed a number of apartments.

This is a new experience for us - we've never rented before. Mrs Wang is fussy about details like the bathroom design, the shape of the bedrooms and whether the aircon is working. I'm fussy about details like the term of the lease, and whether amenities are nearby, and how the kids are going to get to school.

I also learned that landlords can be very fussy about their tenants.

Some of the things I'm going to write about next will sound offensive to some people. Well, these are not my personal views. I'm just describing life as it is in Singapore (the warts and pimples and prejudices included). These are things that I've recently learned, heard and encountered:
1. Some non-Indian landlords do not accept Indian tenants. They feel that Indian families might make their apartments smell funny. (A property agent told me that).

2. One landlord wanted to investigate my religious beliefs. Being a Christian, he was firmly against accepting any tenant who might bring "false idols" into his apartment and set up an altar there.

3. One landlord refused to rent his place to three single Australian expats who had come to view. That landlord feels that ang-mohs like to hold wild parties, get drunk and damage the furniture. A previous ang-moh tenant had left stains on his designer sofa. Alcohol, semen and ... vomit?

4. One evening, I went to view an apartment. At the same time, three young PRC ladies in scanty clothes and heavy make-up also came to view. In the kitchen, I overheard the owner angrily telling the property agent not to bring any prostitutes to view his place.

(I don't know why so many PRC prostitutes are in Singapore these days. This particular apartment was not close to Geylang or any other traditional red-light district, by the way).

5. Landlords are interested to know what kind of job you have, and whether you're rich. They don't want troublesome tenants who end up being unable to pay. It helps to tell them that you're a lawyer or a doctor or an accountant (if you are).

6. Interestingly, I met a security guard at a condominium who was moonlighting as an unofficial property agent. When I told him that I had come to view an apartment, he promptly brought me to view another apartment. The owner (who had already moved out) had given him the key. I gave the security guard $10 for his kind assistance.


Anonymous said...

Singapore has already become very very happening; it's the 21st century but I am not sure if it has the kind of iconic buzz desired.

Indiana said...

#5 is so that they can charge you more rent, as in when you start negotiating they can say "big time lawyer, why pay so less?"

But the biggest thing you forgot is that Landlords here are quite simply greedy.

Anonymous said...

if you are going to rent out your own apartment, wouldn't these matter at all?

Anonymous said...

Landlords are greedy, yes.

Who's the biggest landlord in Singapore? Let me guess...

Anonymous said...

I am wondering too why are there so many PRC prostitutes plying their trade here. Can I also assume that they overstay their social visas & abuse their student visas too?

A lot of these PRC ladies are here on the pretext of studying English in Spore but end up in KTV lounges & Geylang. And why is it that they can afford to rent a private condo in Bukit Timah, the prostitute trade is very lucrative indeed. Which goes to show that there are lots of willing landlords who do NOT mind renting to these women but somehow I think the landlords themselves could be PRCs too. And more importantly what is wrong with our Spore men, where are your morals?

Whereas a single Sporean office lady slogging at work in her office can only afford to stay at her parents HDB pigeon hole?

Really sick & tired of these PRCs. Can they not go somewhere else why are they all congregating in Spore?

If I were a landlord, I will only rent my apartment to Japanese & Koreans, considerate folks. No ang mohs & the rest etc.

Anonymous said...

Your post made me laugh out loud, as it funnily mirrors Singapore society and the current churn.

The rental route is the best way to learn Singapore is not so perfect as many Singaporeans think it is. Racism, religious bigotry, greed...all rear their respective ugly heads.

Anonymous said...

So many unsavoury types in Spore? Immigration allows in all kind of foreigners in order for STB to hit their tourist number target?

When the casinos open, expect more who are plying the vice trade to flood in.

That's progress for you under the PAP.

Anonymous said...

"1. Some non-Indian landlords do not accept Indian tenants. They feel that Indian families might make their apartments smell funny. (A property agent told me that).

2. One landlord wanted to investigate my religious beliefs. Being a Christian, he was firmly against accepting any tenant who might bring "false idols" into his apartment and set up an altar there."

Mr. Wang,

Are there laws to prohibit such demands?

And even there aren't, should there be? What's your legal opinion?


Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Wang,

I am also scouting around for a place to rent for my family. From my observation, I noticed that there's really plenty of supply and no lack of choices, especially in terms of condo apartments. Yet the rental seems to be holding out at a relatively highe level, despite all the din about job prospects and business conditions being pessimistic.

I wonder if there is really such a strong demand (from foreigners, PRs & locals).

I also suspect that there are a lot of S'poreans who owns multiple properties out there. They are probably cash rich and can hold-out because they are quite closed to my negotiating for lower rental.

I also came across many elderly couples who rent out their HDB flats / condos while staying with their kids in even bigger properties.

Maybe, that is why property prices are still at such a high level.

Anonymous said...

Experience renting to Indian (from India) and Chinese (from China)tenants. The smell stems from the cooking. They cook a lot. If not bothered to ventilate or clean regularly the smell will cling to the walls and furniture. You will need to repaint or even dispose the furniture.

Anonymous said...

you guys are a big bunch of spoilt idiots. try living outside of singapore and dealing with the normal issues of everyday living.

Anonymous said...

yah lor, a bunch of spoilt brats. Got Internet to use, still complain about what you see on Internet.

People in some countries got no Internet, much less say whine about people who whine on the Internet!

Anonymous said...

So how did you plan and create the " rental route "?

Did you use the Internet extensively and did you find any particular site/portal useful ?

Anonymous said...

I had a nasty experience when moving out of rental place. Do take photos of rental property before you move in (esp under sinks)-proof of condition of fixtures. Our no-longer-charming landlord asked for proof (receipt) of servicing of air-cons units at departure though air-con units were blowing out black dustballs when we moved in. You shd also ask of the same when you move in. Landlord wld make every opportunity to deduct from yr deposit when you leave - you don't want to pay for that new unit under sink for LL.

Check every little thing just as LL wld check at a later date-keys that do not fit, stoppers in sinks/bathtubs, light fixtures, any holes on the wall from pictures, stains on the floor (esp marble flooring!!!) - they're LL's dream deductions and your nightmare.

If you think looking for a suitable place to stay is difficult (it is), be prepared for departure time as well.

Anonymous said...

As a Singaporean couple looking to rent, we mistakenly thought we would be "desired" tenants. However an agent told me that some landlords actually preferred white foreigners over Singaporeans. We were a bit surprised to hear that as foreigners could avoid paying rent and skip the country while we don't really have that option.

Anonymous said...

"How long" is a consideration for both landlord and tenant. Landlords prefer longer lease if rent is set to drop. Many foreigners' rental is paid by their companies, payment is "safe" & lease is usually for 2-3yrs.

We rented while our house was rebuilt. It turned out to be great time. We were relaxed bec not my house meh, clean like mad for what? Chores were halved, non-essentials were in boxes. In fact, all of us (including 5 dogs) had a such a good time, we joked that we shld rent always.

So enjoy your "rent" period too, Mr Wang ;)
No day but today.