Tenant Guide

Determine your requirements

The main criteria to rent a property are as follows:

Budget – Bear in mind that not all housing is fully furnished, and costs quoted do not take into account initial deposits (normally is 3.5 months rent), stamping fees for the tenancy agreement, moving cost, electricity, telephone and gas charges.
Location – Does the location you have in mind meet your needs for transport convenience, proximity to your office/school, leisure facilities, shopping/banking amenities, safety?
Accommodation needs – Landed property or condominium. How many bedrooms do you need? Do you require a large kitchen for cooking, or study/playroom for your children?
Tenancy duration – Most tenancy terms are for one year or more; though shorter leases are negotiable on a case-by-case basis. The Landlord usually expect higher rental for short-term tenancy.
Furnishing needs – Do you need a fully furnished or partially furnished home? If you intend to ship over your furniture from your existing home, you may prefer an unfurnished one instead.

Arrange viewings

There are three ways to find a suitable property:

–   Newspaper
–   Website
–   Drive around within the vicinity

Another way is to appoint a real estate agent to help you to find your ideal house. Make sure the agent is from a Licensed Estate Agency. Be specific when you discuss your requirements with your agent. This will allow him/her to advise and service you in a professional manner.

Your agent will arrange for you to view available house/condominium that matches your criteria. Bring along a small notebook to scribble down both positive and negative points about the property. This will help you make an informed comparison among the property you have visited. Do be punctual for your viewing appointments.

Besides the property itself, pay attention to surrounding areas. If you can, have a quick walk around. Take note of the ambience, cleanliness and noise levels. You can always change the property interior but there is no way you can change the surroundings!

Create a shortlist of suitable properties and arrange second viewings. Take your time during second viewings and scrutinize the property. Don’t hesitate to open windows, sliding doors, taps, etc to ascertain whether they are in good working order. A property in bad working order is an indication that the landlord is unwilling to carry out appropriate repairs. If the place is furnished find out which furniture comes with the property as some or all of the furniture may belong to the current tenant. Are the appliances (fans, oven, and washing machine) good quality? Check the brand names.

You can highlight any missing or non-working fixtures to your agent’s or Landlord’s attention, but do refrain from making any negative/offensive comments. After all, you may eventually decide to rent the property; so it is wise to exercise tact with the Landlord.


Make an offer

When you find a suitable property, discuss with your agent on making an offer. He/she will be able to give you his/her view on the prevailing market prices with regards to the property type, location and provided furnishings. The landlords will then accept, reject or give a counter-offer, and negotiations will continue until a rent is agreed or they fall through.


The Tenancy Agreement

Once you have decided to rent the property, you will usually pay first month’s rental (earnest deposit) to the Landlord to confirm the deal. Subsequently you will sign a legal document known as a tenancy agreement. Ensure that the tenancy agreement is signed directly between yourself (the Tenant) and the Landlord/Owner and to pay the balance deposit. Normal deposits payment is as follows:

Security Deposit  2 months security deposits
Advance rental 1 months rental (1st month rental)
Utility deposit half month up to 1 month rental depending the usage of the utilities

The tenancy agreement will set out the obligations between both parties for a fixed term agreed upon. This includes requiring the Landlord/Owner to make sure all utilities are properly installed and in working condition, whilst you (the tenant) will be responsible for ensuring that the property is maintained in good order.

Ensure that the inventory list (items within the property that would be entitled for the Tenant’s use) within the tenancy agreement is satisfactorily met and inspected (you may like to take pictures for evidence) before signing the agreement. Clarify with your Landlord whether use of common household facilities like the kitchen, TV, etc. is allowed.

Keep a copy of the tenancy agreement for your own records.


Security Deposit

It is common practice for the Tenant to pay a security deposit equivalent to one or two months’ rental, together with the first month’s of rental upfront. Thereafter, payment is usually done on a monthly basis. The security deposit is refundable at the end of the contract period, provided there is no damage to the property. Any damages or breakages caused by you (the Tenant) will be deducted from the security deposit when it is released. In some cases, the security deposit may also not be refunded if you (the Tenant) do not give sufficient notice to the Landlord about moving out before expiry of the contract.


Payment of Monthly Rental

For avoidance of possible misunderstandings or mishandling, please make sure that the monthly rental is handed directly to the Landlord. It is best that you make payment via cheques payable to the Landlord’s name or. Ensure that you receive a receipt from the Landlord showing the full amount of rental paid for the accommodation.


Leaving the property at the end of the tenancy

If your tenancy is going to expired and you do not wish to renew the tenancy. Make sure you check your tenancy agreement to determine whether you need how long to give notice to the landlord that you wish to terminate the tenancy. Give proper notice as specified in the agreement. When leaving, go through the inventory to ensure you are leaving the property as you got it at the start of the tenancy; otherwise the landlord may be entitled to keep part or all of your deposit. Also ensure that you pay all outstanding bills you are responsible for as failing to do so may entitle the landlord to keep your utilities deposit.