Ultimate Guide for Renting Out Your HDB Flat Without Using an Agent
8 Step-by-Step Guide from Eligibility Requirement, and Marketing Your Flat, to Getting Your Flat Ready from Handover.
If you are interested in making money off your flat, one way of doing this is to rent it out. Your options are to rent out a bedroom(s) or the entire flat.
However, before going down this road you need to understand that there are certain eligibility and legal requirements that must be adhered to. This guide will lay out the process you need to follow in order to rent your HDB flat out without using an agent:
1. Find Out the HDB Eligibility Requirements of Renting Out Your Flat
Owners must meet three eligibility requirements before they can rent out their HDB flat.
- Singapore Citizenship: To rent out your entire flat, one or more owners is required to be a Singapore Citizen (SC). Owners who are Singapore Permanent Residents (SPRs) are only allowed to rent out bedrooms, not the entire flat.
- Minimum Occupation Period (MOP): The owner must have already been occupying the flat for at least five (5) years from when they purchased it. If there was a part-share resale or transfer of ownership, the date of the part-share or transfer would be used in computing the MOP, or the date that the owner was authorised to occupy the flat. Until you reach the MOP, you are only allowed to rent out the bedrooms, not the entire flat.
- Rent Out Quota for Non-Citizens (NC): In renting your flat out to one or more people who are non-Singapore Citizens and/or non-Malaysian you must adhere to the NC Rent Out Quota, which is 8% at the neighbourhood level and 11% at the block level. This quota applies to foreigners as well as Singapore Permanent Residents (SPRs), apart from Malaysian nationals. However, when it comes to renting out bedrooms, this quota does not apply.
In a neighbourhood and/or block where the NC Rent Out Quota is full, owners are only allowed to rent their flat to Singapore Citizens and/or Malaysians. This quota is adjusted on a monthly basis and determined by tenant movement in other flats located in the same neighbourhood or block during the previous month. The quota is updated at midnight the 1st of every month. To find out whether the NC Quota of the block your flat is located on, you can refer to the HDB Map Services or HDB InfoWEB.
To show your prospective tenant that you are eligible to rent out your flat, just print out your eligibility to rent confirmation from the HDB. You can get this from My HDBPage by logging in with SingPass and then going to My Flat > Purchased Flat - Renting Out > Renting Out of Flat.
2. Find Out the HDB Eligibility Requirements for Prospective Tenants
Once you’ve determined that you are eligible to rent your flat out, you will want to know for sure whether your prospective tenants are also eligible to rent.
- Residency Status: Prospective tenants with Singapore Citizens or SPRs status are allowed to rent an HDB flat. Foreigners are also allowed to rent as long as they legally live in Singapore and hold any of these documents:
- Dependant Pass
- Employment Pass
- Long-Term Social Visit Pass
- S Pass
- Student Pass
- Work Permit*
*Eligibility requires those holding Work Permits from the marine, process, manufacturing and construction sectors to be Malaysian.
- Duration of Tenancy: The law does not allow HDB flat owners to rent out their flats on a short-term basis, which would be anything less than six months. This applies whether you are renting your entire flat or just bedrooms. This means that you must verify that the passes held by your non-citizen applicants must be valid for at least six months from when your application is dated. Otherwise, your application will be denied by HDB.
Because short-term rentals are illegal in Singapore you cannot register your HDB flat with Airbnb or similar tourist sites.
- Property Ownership: Tenants are not allowed to own an HDB flat or an Executive Condominium in which the five-year MOP has not yet been met. Once their flat reaches MOP, they are required to rent out the flat they own within a month of renting an HDB flat owned by someone else.
Tenants of current public rental HDB flat are also not allowed to be renting an HDB flat unless legally separated or divorced. This being the case, just one person is allowed to rent an HDB flat from the other flat owner.
- Occupancy Cap on HDB Flats: Overcrowding is not allowed. So, if owners are renting out their HDB flats or just bedrooms to tenants who are unrelated, they need to make sure they don’t exceed the occupancy cap that applies to their type of flat. One- and 2-bedroom units are only allowed to be rented out in their entirety, which means the owner cannot rent out individual bedrooms.
Renting of Flat
Renting of Bedroom(s)
Maximum Number of Tenants Allowed in Each Flat^
Maximum Number of Bedroom(s) Allowed
Maximum Number of Occupants* Allowed in Each Flat^
1-room and 2-room
Owners are not allowed to rent out the bedroom(s).
4-room and larger
Owners must comply with the occupancy cap if they want to avoid legal problems. These rules are designed to minimise disturbance complaints by neighbours due to overcrowding and to provide a pleasant living environment.
3. Determine Your Rental Price
You can find out what the median rental prices of flats are in all the estates, which gives you a good idea of how to price your rental. Let’s say that you have a 3-room HDB flat in Bishan estate that you want to rent out. It would be helpful to know that in the 4th quarter of 2020, HDB reports the median rent for that size flat was $2,300. You can assume that a flat located near Bishan MRT could get a higher price than one further away, or near Marymount MRT.
You can use the median rent as a guideline before listing your flat. This information gives you an advantage because prospective tenants will likely also be looking into other rentals in your area. If you price your flat too low, you may be leaving money on the table. If you price it too high, some prospects will not even enquire about it.
4. Marketing Your HDB Flat
Once you’ve determined your asking price, it’s now time to start looking for a tenant and this involves marketing. You’ve got to figure out ways to do this without spending a fortune. You can place classified ads in the Straits Times, and/or list it online. If you place ads in the newspaper, you probably won’t get much of a response because people these days rely on the internet for their news. But you will hear from a ton of real estate agents who would like you to list your flat with them. So, our recommendation would be to skip newspaper ads.
What we do recommend is that you list your flat online with spectacular photos, a virtual tour and home tour of the interior of your flat. This should attract a lot of interested parties.
There is no doubt that online marketing has the best chance of success. So, now it’s time to get rid of the clutter and do everything you can to make your flat look its best before taking photos. Posting fabulous images is the key to attracting the most qualified tenants. Your property must make a great impression the moment they click on your listing. Studies show that 90% of information that goes to the brain is visual, so top-quality photos are essential.
The human brain can process visual images 60,000 faster than written content. People are far more likely to spend time on a listing with great photos, so if you have bad pictures or no pictures, your listing will be overlooked by many. A DSLR camera would be great if you have one, but if not, the latest smartphones have excellent cameras, so that should suffice. Use horizontal orientation, with as wide an angle as possible. The goal is to cover as much area as you can in each shot, so that viewers can get some perspective.
Your other option would be to hire an excellent real estate media company to shoot professional photos. A company like LandScan would not only shoot great photos they can also create a very compelling virtual tour of your flat. You should seriously consider this option because their fees are very reasonable. The cost would depend on the size of your flat and which services you choose, somewhere between $280 and $600. Furthermore, they will create a webpage featuring your flat, which you can post online and send to friends and family.
If you decide to take your own photos, here are some tips:
- Thoroughly clean your flat and get rid of the clutter.
- Take down personal photographs and any certificates with identifying information.
- Only essential pieces of furniture should remain in each room.
- The kitchen should be almost empty, except for something that adds a bit of colour.
- Put toilet lids down in bathrooms and toiletries should be hidden.
- Switch on all the interior lights.
- Natural daylight works best with no sun shining directly towards your flat.
- If your flat faces East, an afternoon shoot works best. If your flat faces West, a morning shoot works best. If your flat faces North or South, anytime of day works well in good weather before 5:00 p.m.
- Use a horizontal orientation with wide angle settings on your camera or smartphone
- Photos should be taken from the corners of each area, like the doorways of bedrooms.
- Each room has a selling point, so feature that in your photo.
- Kneel when photographing areas with low-lying furniture, like the living room and bathrooms.
- Use free photo enhancement tools like beginner friendly Snapseed.
- Crop your photos to eliminate distractions.
If you post a virtual tour of the interior of your flat, prospective tenants will look at this when determining whether to schedule an in-person visit. This is why it’s so important that you go the extra mile to ensure that your listing beautifully showcases your flat and all its best features. This helps to qualify your prospects before you waste time showing your unit. People who are serious will call to make an appointment, which gives you an opportunity to screen them ahead of time.
If you want to fix up your flat before listing it for rent, there is no need to spend a fortune on renovations. Before taking photos, why not add a fresh coat of paint? You’ll be surprised by what a difference that can make! You may also want to read our article on Five Tips to Increase the Value of Your Property.
Since your listing is for rent directly by owner, you are left with fewer online options for posting it. For example, the most popular real estate websites like PropertyGuru.com.sg and SRX.com.sg only allow listings from CEA-registered property agents, so your listing cannot appear on those sites. Also, if you post your listing on 99.co you will get a lot of enquiries from real estate agents as the public at large doesn’t have access to that site. But your listing can be posted on platforms where there are no restrictions for property owners, like Carousel, Gumtree and of course Facebook Marketplace.
5. Prepare for Showings
Once people start calling in response to your online listing, many will want to set up an appointment to view your unit. Before scheduling an appointment, you will want to ask them about the following as part of your screening process:
- How would they describe themselves?
- How many will be occupying the rental?
- Are they Singapore Citizens? If so, why are they renting? Is it to be near their job or children’s schools?
- Are they foreigners? If so, when did they arrive in Singapore? If they have been in Singapore for some time, why are they looking to move?
- How much rent are they planning to pay?
- How long do they plan on leasing the unit?
In showing your unit, it’s important that you comply with the most recent Covid-19 regulations by limiting the number of visitors you have per day to just eight. You can either hold a limited Open House or schedule your showings at different times and/or on different days. Don’t forget to reconfirm the appointment the day before. This can easily be done with a brief text message like, “Hi, I just want to confirm our appointment at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow to show you my flat at Blk 609 Yishun Street 12, Singapore 760609. Please text me back with your confirmation. Thanks.”
To make a good impression, you might want to do a few things before holding an Open House or conducting any showings:
- Give your flat a thorough cleaning and remove the clutter.
- On a hot day, you want it to be cool inside, so turn on the air conditioning or a fan. Otherwise, open the windows for good ventilation.
- Open the curtains and blinds to bring in natural light.
- Lock up all valuables, like your documents, wallet/purse, jewellery and mobile devices.
- Do not be doing laundry or have it hanging up to dry.
Make sure you thank everyone for coming to see your unit and ask them when they plan on getting back to you with their decision. If they’re vague, give them a call within a couple of days. Don’t let this drag out.
6. Write a Letter of Intent (LOI) and/or Draft a Tenancy Agreement (TA)
After showing your unit to several qualified parties, you will narrow them down to one or two good candidates. Before signing on the dotted line, you need to verify that they meet all the eligibility requirements discussed above, plus the occupancy cap. Also, you need to check with the NRIC and be prepared to make copies of their immigration pass, student pass, work permit, and passport. Look at the photographs on their cards to verify that they look like the person on the card. Go online to ICA’s website to make sure the immigration pass including NRIC is valid and to MOM’s website to check the validity of their passes. Keep copies of the acknowledgment slip or the ICA/MOM screen shot.
To ensure that you have a serious applicant, you may want to offer a Letter of Intent (LOI) at this point. In fact, you can offer and accept several LOI, since this is not a legally binding agreement. It is just a formal letter that expresses the person’s intent to rent your unit. Your prospective tenant will likely set an expiration date for their offer, which is usually three (3) days.
The LOI can be considered a preview of the Tenancy Agreement since it includes the following:
- Rental price offered
- Start date and end date of lease
- Specifics of landlord and tenant(s)
- Number of occupants
- Requests that applicant wants included in the TA (refrigerator, new beds, TV or other furniture)
If you decide you want these applicants as your tenants, now would be the time to negotiate their requests. Your options are to give them all they want, ask them to accept less, or explain that there will no changes at all.
The LOI may be offered at the same time a good faith deposit is paid. This would be in the amount equivalent to one month’s rent. If they become your tenant by signing the Tenancy Agreement (TA), the deposit they paid can now become their security deposit. The market practice for security deposit would be in the amount of one month’s rent if the lease is for one year, or two months’ rent if the lease is for two years
On the other hand, if you reject the LOI, the applicant is entitled to have their good faith deposit returned, which you should do right away.
Once you’ve accepted the LOI and verified that these tenants meet the requirements, you are free to issue them a Tenancy Agreement. You should also know that you are entitled to forego the LOI process if you don’t feel it’s necessary. The Tenancy Agreement will state the Terms & Conditions of the rental with clauses regarding the primary aspects of the tenancy, to protect the rights and interests of both the landlord and the tenant.
You are welcome to download our agency’s standard template of the Tenancy Agreement for HDB Flats for no cost. This template covers all major aspects of tenancy, from rent-free periods to the end of tenancy checklist and the final property condition report. This template is drafted by the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) after getting input from a wide variety of stakeholders, like the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) themselves, the Housing & Development Board (HDB), various associations representing consumers, the real estate industry, and experienced practitioners in residential rental transactions.
7. Apply to HDB for Approval
You must gain the approval of HDB before you can legally rent out your HDB flat. So, before you sign the Tenancy Agreement, you must apply for their approval. You need to pay a $20 administrative fee, but if you are only subletting a bedroom the administrative fee would be $10. Your application can be submitted through: My HDBPage.
After registering your tenant(s), you need to keep HDB informed of any changes regarding the tenants’ specifics and/or when any tenant moves in or moves out. This must be done within seven days of when it occurred. For example, if on 1 September the lease expired, HDB needs to be told no later than 8 September.
Before the new tenants can move into your flat, you must have HDB’s approval. They must be included in their records and for this you must prove your eligibility for renting out your flat. Once this is done you can print out your letter confirming this from My HDBPage > My Flat > Purchased Flat > Renting Out > Renting Out of Whole Flat.
Once your new tenants are registered with HDB, you can submit a request for a list of authorised tenants for your flat. This way you can print out HDB’s confirmation letter listing the names of registered tenants. This gives your tenants the assurance they need to know they are registered with HDB and have the legal right to move into your flat.
Once you’ve gained HDB’s approval, you and your tenant can sign the Tenancy Agreement. Within 14 days of signing the Tenancy Agreement, your tenant should go to IRAS Website to have the Tenancy Agreement e-stamped to avoid a late fee. The tenant typically pays the tenancy Stamp Duty fee.
8. Get Ready for the Handover
You’re almost there! But before you can finalize your rental transaction, there are a few things that must be done. The first thing on your list is to thoroughly inspect your property and this includes going over your inventory list one last time. Make sure everything is in good working order, otherwise you will be doing all the handyman jobs if any issues arise in the problem-free time period.
Let the tenant know the date of the handover, which is typically the date the lease begins or the day before. You and the tenant need to be together when you go over the inventory list. This should be done one item at a time so that you are both aware of everything remaining in the unit.
This may seem like more busy work, but this list is conclusive evidence of not only everything in the flat, but their condition. This includes furniture, appliances, rugs, fittings and fixtures. Once you’ve done this, you can give your tenant all the keys including bedroom door keys, window grille keys, letter box keys and access cards if there are any. It is advisable to collect first-month’s rent immediately upon signing of the Tenancy Agreement, but if this is not yet done, please ensure to collect it before handing over your flat to the tenant. There are cases where the tenant doesn’t pay rental after moving into the house.
Okay, you are now all set!
Congratulations on renting out your flat without using an agent! To summarize, here are the steps you’ve taken to complete the process:
Find Out the HDB Eligibility Requirements for Renting Out Your Flat
Find Out the HDB Eligibility Requirements for Prospective Tenants
Determine Your Rental Price
Marketing Your HDB Flat
Prepare for Showings
Write a Letter of Intent (LOI) and/or Draft a Tenancy Agreement (TA)
Apply to HDB for Approval
Get Ready for the Handover
At Pinnacle Estate Agency, we strongly believe in sharing our real estate knowledge to the public. For more content like this article, check out our Singapore Property Guides.