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  • Writer's pictureThea Ng

3 Tips For First-Time Landlords

Being an agent who has been dealing with tenancies since day 1, I have experienced (almost) all kinds of scenario you can possibly imagine.

There are good tenants who do their due diligence according to the tenancy agreement- paying their rent on time, making sure that the unit is spick and span, notifying landlord of defects in the house and etc. These are the perfect kind of tenant you will want to keep as much as possible. There are also tenants who are genuinely forgetful- forgot what they signed and their responsibilities. Some can't even be bothered to clean the place? (I really can't imagine how people can live in such unhygienic environment.) Anyway, these are the ones who can really traumatise landlords (especially the first-timers) and so I thought perhaps I could raise 3 points which first-time landlords should take note of especially.

Do note that we are all humans and we only have that few interactions with the prospective tenant before he/she moves into the property. We can make sure they are legal residents in Singapore but we can't judge a person's character or lifestyle accurately based on first impression. What I'm going to share next are not foolproof methods to protect your interest, but it will help.

1. Don't be too "chin-chai" with home maintenance. You will get what you give, so always make sure these three things are done before you handover a property to the tenant. Air-conditioner servicing, cleaning of premise and curtains- ideally with receipts because everyone's definition of cleanliness is different. You can also recommend a trusted contractor who charges reasonable pricing to make things easier for your tenant. If you are able to show that you have done your part properly prior to handover, you can expect the same from the tenant when you take back the unit. At the end of the lease, when the tenant is unable to produce similar standards, you can jolly well deduct from the deposit. Just make sure the property is of acceptable condition for the subsequent tenant coming in, it will make your life easier.

2. Be clear about the minor repairs clause. Minor repairs is usually capped at $150-$200 and the landlord is responsible for costs exceeding the mutually agreed amount. To prevent tenants from abusing this clause, it is always better to state that landlord's consent has to be obtained before any repair work that can potentially cost higher than the limit is done. It is logical to ask for permission before spending somebody else's money, right? Unless it is an emergency, of course. I have met tenants who happily engaged contractors to do expensive repair works without consulting the landlords and it ended ugly. So yes, give clear instructions in the tenancy agreement to avoid such disputes.

3. We lease out the property to earn money, so please, check your bank account and make sure the monthly payment is in. We can send a reminder if the tenant is honestly busy and has forgotten about it. However, if the tenant takes forever to respond i.e. avoiding phone calls and not replying messages- we need to take the hint and act upon it, the sooner the better. I have met landlords who rummaged through their bank statements after returning the security deposit to find out that the tenant had missed a month's payment, landlords who realise that the rent has been defaulted for a few months before notifying me about it. Literally "siao liao". The latter situation is harder to deal with because rental loss is potentially higher and chances are the tenant has left without you knowing. So yes, always check your bank account. It is not difficult to do so with mobile banking nowadays.

I hope the above-mentioned pointers are useful to you! If you have a different opinion or would like to clarify any enquiry in mind, feel free to PM me at +65 9272 0969.

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