Renting in Singapore: The most common reasons a landlord might reject you
Landlords can be choosy when it comes to accepting tenants, too.
Here’s the thing about Singaporean landlords: Even when they’ve clearly bought a property for investment and rental yield, they tend to remain possessive and nit-picky over their cash cow.
It’s not just the tenants who are doing the choosing; landlords, too, can get really picky when they screen tenants. If you’ve made an enquiry on a listing or expressed your interest after viewing a unit, only to be told discreetly afterwards that it’s been “taken already”, there might be a chance that you’ve been rejected by a landlord based on your profile.
If this happens to you on more than one occasion, you need to know why landlords are saying no to you. If you’re renting in Singapore, here are five factors that may be hurting your chances.
1. YOU DON'T HAVE A STABLE SOURCE OF INCOME
This one’s pretty obvious. If you’re a freelancer who works on ad-hoc projects and you don’t have a typical 9-to-5 job that pays you a monthly salary, this might count as a strike against you. The fear is that tenants of this profile are more likely to default on their rent, which would seriously affect the landlord’s plan to go on a vacation every two months.
How do you get around this? It’s all about how you frame the situation. Instead of telling your landlord you’re a freelancer, tell them that you’re working on a project with Company X, and bore them with endless details about the project. If you’ve worked with reputable brands, mention their names as well, so that your landlord knows you’re legit.
The key to renting in Singapore is not to reveal too much information, but not to look like you’re hiding something or being evasive.
2. YOU HAVE PETS
Unfortunately, having pets is something that plenty of landlords in Singapore frown upon, partly due to worries about cleanliness or allergies, as well as pet restrictions if you’re renting a HDB flat. Chiefly, your landlord doesn’t want your cat scratching up the furniture or your dog leaving saliva and urine stains on the floors.
To help your case, you can ask your previous landlord to vouch for you. Having them talk about how responsible you are about cleaning up after your pets (and how well-trained your pets are!) can go a long way in making your potential landlord more agreeable to letting you have pets.
If this isn’t possible, or doesn’t work, consider viewing the property with your pet, so you can show off how well-behaved your pet is, and perhaps even score brownie points with fluffy cuteness.
To safeguard yourself, make sure the permission to keep pets (usually specific to your current pet) is written up in the contract, lest the landlord changes their mind. To sweeten the deal for your landlord, the agent can also include a clause that stipulates that you’ll pay for any damages your pet might cause to the property (in the unlikely situation that this does happen). It would go something like this:
• The landlord is allowed to keep one pet dog on the premises.
• The tenant is liable to compensate the landlord for any damages caused by the tenant’s pet on the premises.
3. YOU LOOK LIKE A PARTY ANIMAL
It might sound like discrimination, but landlords want renters that fit a certain image: Neat, tidy and staying clear of trouble. They don’t like renters who look like they’ll throw huge parties or have friends over 24/7.
Bearing this in mind, refrain from oversharing. Your prospective landlord doesn’t need to know about the wild night out that you had with your best pals, or about that time you got hired despite sitting through your interview with a raging hangover.
You might also want to stay away from questions such as, “Can my friends come over and use the pool?” and comments such as “Great, the sofa is big enough for all of my friends”. Unless, of course, you want to be told that the space is “taken up already” once you offer to put down the deposit.
4. YOU BRING CHILDREN TO THE VIEWING, AND THEY MISBEHAVE
This applies to tenants who are renting as a family. Say you bring your children to a viewing, and they start tearing through the house, climbing on the furniture and, before you leave, they cap it off with a shouting match. Would this leave a good impression on your landlord? Probably not.
Not only would they fear damage to their property, they’re also scared you’ll ruin their reputation as owners of the property because neighbours do talk among themselves and complain to the management or the town council.
As a general rule of thumb, we recommend not bringing your kids to property viewings. If you must, at least make sure they’re well-behaved. The “kids being kids” excuse just doesn’t work for landlords when renting in Singapore.
5. YOU WORK FROM HOME
Maybe you’re self-employed, or you’re #blessed enough to have a job that allows you to work from home. To you, this means endless freedom and flexibility. To your landlord, this means expensive utilities bills.
If the topic comes up, be sure to clarify what “working from home” means exactly. Do you stay at home three days per week, and spend the remaining two days consulting with your clients at their offices? Do you have the flexibility of staying at home but end up going to the office for meetings and other events?
Make sure you set the record straight, and mention things like, “I prefer using the fan to the air-con in the day” or “I travel frequently” to increase your chances. Because you do, right?
This article first appeared on 99.co.