With many rental scams out there, here are the checks to protect yourself as a tenant.
By Khalil Adis
The September 2022 cooling measures will translate to a red-hot property market as ex-private property owners will now have to wait out a 15 months period before they can buy a resale HDB flat.
This means demand in the rental market for both both private properties and HDB flats will pick up in the coming months ahead.
Unfortunately, rental scams appear to also be on the rise.
According to the Singapore Police Force (SPF), there were at least 144 victims of such scams who had lost around S$190,000 since January 2022.
As the rental market heats up, scammers are taking advantage of the situation by posting fake listings on social media to lure unsuspecting tenants.
Such listings are often too good to be true, depicting beautiful apartments at bargain prices.
However, there is one catch.
In order to secure viewings, the bogus property agents will often ask potential tenants to transfer money.
This is where potential tenants may lose their monies.
They will also ask you to send a copy of your identification card to confirm your viewing.
Such requests are in fact dubious and not in line with market practice.
They may also open you to identity thefts.
4 due diligence checks that you must do as a tenant
To prevent yourself from being scammed, here are the four thing you must do:
#1: Do not transfer any monies for viewings
Instead, you should request for a physical viewing to verify that the property does indeed exist.
#2: Verify the agent is registered with Council for Estate Agencies (CEA)
If you are dealing with an agent, ask for the agent’s registration number. You can also check the agent’s details via CEA’s Public Register here.
#3: Ask for proof of ownership
Whether you are dealing with the agent or landlord, you should ask for proof of ownership of the rightful owner before transferring the earnest deposit.
The earnest deposit is usually transferred directly to the landlord’s bank account along with the Letter of Intent (for a private property rental).
For HDB flats and private properties, this can be done via INLIS here.
For HDB flats only, you can request for the proof of ownership via MY HDBPage.
If you are renting a property that is owned by a company, you should ask for their business profile or purchase it via BizFile here.
The address of the directors of the company must match the address as reflected in INLIS or MY HDBPage.
#4: Do not transfer monies to the agent
Under CEA’s guidelines, for rental of HDB flats, agents are not allowed to hold any monies.
The deposit is typically equivalent to one or two months rent for a 1- or 2-year lease respectively.
Upon signing the Tenancy Agreement, tenants will then have to transfer the one month’s advance rental.
A regular contributor for PropertyGuru Singapore's AskGuru column, Khalil has his fingers right on the pulse of Singapore's vibrant real estate market.
© 2021 KHALIL REALTOR. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.