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What are your regular and other not so obvious extra household expenses?

  • First and foremost obviously, there's the rent that you pay, usually on a monthly basis. This rent also includes a security deposit, as well as a month, or 2 months, advance rent. (Click here if you're having deposit issues with your landlord)


  • TIP: Rent can be paid quarterly or even once a year, but I advise that you stick to monthly payments, since paying too much in advance places you in a less favorable position in the event a conflict arises with the landlord.

  • The agent shall receive one half (1/2) of a month's gross rental for a lease less than 12 months from the tenant. For a lease of up to 24 months, the agent shall receive one month's gross rental from the tenant.

  • And at some time point during the process of accepting a lease you need to pay stamp duty, which is about 5% of your monthly rent for a one year lease and just under 10% for a 2 (or 3) year lease. Click here to calculate your exact stamp duty payable.


  • In addition, there are the following recurring overheads, although not all of these may apply to you and/or some of these may be included in your expat package.


    • Power/Water supply S$300-500,- p/m, but can be higher.

    • Gas S$100 per year

    • Telephone line (land-based) S$200 p/m

    • Telephone line (mobile) S$50-S$100 p/m

    • Internet connection S$50-S$100 p/m

    • Cable television S$50-S$100 p/m

    • Air-con servicing S$100 per quarter

    • Condo maintenance charges S$100-SS$200,- p/m

    • Pest control services < 100 per year


    N.B. The above charges are ballpark figures because of the many variables. However, on the whole, it's safe to assume that when it comes to utility-related costs it's your air-con bill that will take the biggest bite out of your wallet. Depending on the thermostat setting, the number and size of the air-con units and their rooms, as well as the duration they're being run, count on roughly S$300 to S$1.000 per month.

    TIP: Getting your bill down is simple; just set your thermostat temperature a few degrees higher, your room will still feel like an oasis due to the cooler ambient air and the lower humidity, but the few degrees difference cuts your bill considerably.

  • Singapore Power Services (SP Services) requires you to pay a utilities deposit before they turn on the power and water. The deposit varies from S$40 to S$800, depending on your residency status and what kind of property you are renting and will be reflected in your first bill. For foreigners renting a private apartment the deposit is S$500. Please check SP Services website for more details.


  • Note also that in cases where you terminate your lease prematurely, you may be asked to reimburse the landlord part of the commission (pro-rated) that he paid his agent. For example, if you have 8 months left on your 24 month lease, you have to pay the landlord 8/24 or 1/3 of the commission paid. Note that you also have to provide a letter from your company for corroboration purposes also.


  • Lastly, some repair costs may incurred when something in the unit has been broken. Usually maintenance costs of less than S$ 150,- are borne by the tenant, repair jobs above S$ 150,- are for the landlord to pay.
Above overview is not exhaustive obviously. It doesn't include things like groceries, transport cost, school fees etc.

Disputes

What happens when you and your landlord are in disagreement on a tenancy clause? What recourse do you have? Well, first off, as I said above, it really helps if you fully understand your TA, so make sure you know each of the terms thoroughly before you sign it.

Now, if you feel you have an iron-clad case, contact your agent, seek his advice. In most, if not all cases, he or she will be able to give you an unbiased view. He/she may even be the catalyst you need to find common ground between opposing parties.

If this approach did not resolve the matter, then you can try arbitration services, such as SMC, the Singapore Mediation Center (http://www.mediation.com.sg/).

If you're still deadlocked, as a last resort, you can consider the Small Claims Tribunal (http://app.subcourts.gov.sg/sct/page.aspx?pageid=8617). Keep in mind, however, that this last course of action can be a time-consuming process.

N.B. Actual fees for resolving property disputes are not fixed but we can offer some estimates. The Singapore Mediation Centre, which tends to deal with larger disputed sums, charges an administrative fee of $250 and a minimum of $900 per party per day of mediation.



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