In A Landlord’s Market, How To Save On Rent With These Lesser-Known Tips?

Deborah Gan
Last updated Aug 11, 2022

Renting a home in this climate may seem like the end of the world with the notoriously high rental rates. But if you’re on a budget, try out these seven tips to cut down on your rental fees.

In this high-interest climate, it truly has become a landlord’s market. Take a look at the rising interest rates and you’ll see that HDB rents have been rising for the 24th consecutive month in July, while condo rents have been up 18th month in a row

Reality check: the median rental price for a 4-room flat in Central to cost a whopping S$3,050 per month for 2022Q2. Coupled with the sky-high inflation and looming recession just around the corner, it becomes even more important than ever to cut costs on rent, when purchasing a property on your own is not a viable option.

Here to save some bucks on rent? We reveal some lesser-known hacks that not many are aware of, hopefully shaving off some of the rental price.

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1. Check out other nearby locations

Sometimes, choosing a unit just one MRT station away from your desired location will reap you significant savings that will definitely add up if you’re looking for a long-term rental contract.

For example, you may want to stay in Bishan because of its relatively close proximity away from the CBD, and the convenience of sitting on both the North-South Line (NSL) and the Circle Line (CCL). If you look at the rental prices for Bishan, the median price for a 4-room flat is S$2,600 for the second quarter of 2022. But compare it to Ang Mo Kio that’s just a stop away, it stands at S$2,400 for a 4-room flat.

Just one MRT station away, you get to save about S$200 per month, which translates to S$2,400 per year. In exchange, you can just add about five to ten minutes of extra commuting time. But if you ask me, that’s pretty worth it.

2. Look out for quantum price instead of PSF

When shopping around for a house to rent, you may be tempted to seal the deal for a unit with a very low PSF. But if your unit is large, your rental may come up to a price much more expensive than the normal market price. 

Consider an HDB flat that is S$6 psf for a 300sqft one-room flat. That comes up to about S$1,800 per month. But if you were only to compare psf and choose a flat that is only S$4 psf but with a room area of 500sqft, that amounts to S$2,000 a month, having you spend an extra of S$200 per month!

Also, when looking at homes, sometimes you might want to purchase one home over the other because of the extra 50sqft. If you’re looking at a psf of about S$5, that will amount to an extra S$250 per month. But if you really think about it, the extra room won’t really make much of a difference especially if you’re renting a larger unit. In such cases, is the S$250 truly worth it? Or are you better off saving the extra few hundred?

Not enough funds to rent your desired home? Consider getting a low interest personal loan to finance your home.

3. Roommates, roommates, roommates

If you’re one who values privacy and having your own space, renting out an entire unit may be quite important to you. However, if you’re on a budget, having roommates will make more financial sense if you share the rent between two or three of you and rent a larger unit. You can consider negotiating and getting the master room instead with an en-suite toilet, so you won’t have to share the common toilet with your flatmates.

Take a look at the rental rates now and you will see that the average rent price is about $2,000 for a 1-room HDB flat. But if you rent a 3-room flat with another roommate, the average rent now is about S$3,200, making it S$1,600 per person per month. 

For extra savings, a 4-room flat would cost you about S$3,600, making it only S1,200 per person if you have two other flatmates.

4. Do you really need a fully-furnished apartment?

It is no secret that renting a fully-furnished apartment complete with a TV, washing machine, fridge and sofa will come at a higher price. Not many people will realise that moving in with furniture in place also has some hidden costs — damaging any of them will subject you to losing a portion of your security deposit as well.

However, sometimes it may make more financial sense to do so, especially if you’re renting a home for a short-term stay. Purchasing all these appliances and furniture won’t be worth it at all. However, if you’re moving in with your family for the long haul of a few years, you can consider sprucing up the home with your own furniture, so you can style the home to your desired aesthetic.

Waiting for your new home to be ready? Check out these home insurance plans to safeguard your home sweet home.

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5. Request for the landlords to cover some costs

Before you sign a lease, it’s extremely important to read through the clauses carefully. If you’re renting a room, it is common practice for your landlords to be covering some costs:

  • Utility charges like water and electricity charges, internet, cable subscriptions, condo maintenance fees etc
  • Maintenance/repair fees for items within the apartment
  • Air-conditioner servicing

However, if you’re renting as the main tenant, you might have to bear these costs yourselves, which might greatly add to your financial burden. Just think about it, servicing your aircon can cost upward of S$400 to about S$800 a year. There’s no harm asking in if your landlord can bear these costs with you, or if they are open to splitting the expenses.

On top of that, landlords can actually claim utilities and wifi tax deductions, so having them bear these costs can become a win-win situation for both of you.

6. Be the main tenant and sublet

If you look around, there are actually rental contracts that allow you to sign on as the main tenant and sublet other rooms to other tenants. This creates a way for you to reduce the amount of rent you’re paying if you can mark up the price a little to cover a portion of your rent.

However, this runs the risk of you having to pay even more than you need if you do not manage to find other tenants to sublet to. So do check if it’s a financially wise decision before you commit to it. If you personally think that the rent for a single room is within your budget, maybe it will give you a greater peace of mind just going ahead with a single room.

But before you do so, make sure you check with your landlord and your contact to make sure you don’t run into any legal issues and risk being evicted. It’s also important to note that there are some rules you can’t break, like erecting partitions, ensuring that each person has at least 10 square metres of space and not exceeding eight people living in the same unit.

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7. Rent your own home, literally

Yes, you read it right. If you’re looking for a home to rent because you’ve just sold off your place and your new abode won’t be renovated in time, you can try to make a deal with the next homebuyer to rent out your place. This will allow you to stay past your possession date, if you know that the new owners are in no rush to move in.

This is the best case scenario if you can’t find another house in time, without paying higher premiums for the last minute notice. Besides, you’re already so used to your own space and location, might as well make the best of it! You can always offer a lower purchase price in exchange for staying in your home for a couple more months to save on temporary accommodation and extra storage fees.

There’s really no harm in asking. If you are engaging a property agent, you can also ask them to help you negotiate as well and come to a consensual agreement that can benefit both parties.

Still looking for a home and renting in the mean time? Check out the best home loan rates in Singapore.

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By Deborah Gan
A mahjong addict with an undying love for dogs, Deborah is always on the hunt for cheap deals because she is always broke. That is why she is attempting to be more financially savvy to be.. less broke.



Deborah Gan August 11, 2022 94367