Property Agents: Fees and Responsibilities

During the rental process, the tenant or landlord (or both) may engage the services of property agents. Known as the tenant’s agent (or buyer’s agent) and the landlord’s agent (or seller’s agent) respectively, these two representatives have different responsibilities. In this article, we’ll discuss their roles, fee structure, and whether you really need to hire a middleman at all.

Use the links below to jump to the relevant sections of the guide!

I'm a Tenant

I'm a Landlord

I'm a tenant

As the name implies, the tenant’s agent is engaged by you, the tenant to help you during the rental process. The tenant’s agent can help you save time and money and be an invaluable resource of information and advice for you.

The responsibilities of the tenant’s agent include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Conduct property listing research that matches your requirements
  • Call up the landlords and landlords’ agents for enquiries
  • Shortlist some of the best listings and recommend them to you
  • Help you, the tenant schedule and co-ordinate property viewings
  • Advise you on the going rental rates for the property type that you’re looking at
  • Negotiate with the landlord or landlord’s agent on your behalf
Tenant’s agent commission

If you, the tenant has engaged a property agent to serve as tenant’s agent, you’ll pay a commission according to the final agreed rental rate and lease period. Do note that property agents’ commissions in Singapore are entirely market-driven and no regulations on how much commission you should be paying have been officially stipulated.

If you didn’t sign a binding lease with any of the properties which your agent has recommended by the end of the period of his service (a period that has been mutually agreed upon before he started acting as your agent), you’re not required to pay him for any of the services rendered.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can exploit him or waste his time without any real intention of renting through him. The following is a guide on how much commission you can be paying your agent.

When negotiating with the landlord or landlord’s agent directly, a crucial first question to ask when enquiring about a listing is ‘Are you the owner/landlord’s agent?’. This is to ensure that you know clearly whom you’re dealing with.

If you’re dealing with a landlord’s agent, it’s good to ask ‘Do I need to pay you a commission?’ Typically, you do not need to pay the landlord’s agent any commission. Below are more details on a tenant's agent commission:

  • Above $3500 in rent, 2-year lease
    The tenant doesn't pay. The landlord pays 1 month rent.

    If there’s only a landlord’s agent (that is, the tenant contacts and deal with the landlord’s agent directly and doesn’t have any tenant’s agent representing him), the landlord’s agent keeps the full commission.

    If you, the tenant has engaged a tenant’s agent, the 1 month’s rental is usually evenly shared between the landlord’s agent and tenant’s agent.

  • Above $3500 in rent, 1-year lease
    The tenant pays half a month's rental. The landlord pays half a month's rental.

    If there’s only a landlord’s agent, the landlord’s agent keeps the fulls commission.

    If you, the tenant has engaged a tenant’s agent, he will collect half a month’s rental from you. If you didn’t hire a tenant’s agent, you don’t have to pay at all.

  • Less than $3500, 1-year lease
    The landlord’s agent collects half a month’s rental from the landlord.

    If you, the tenant have a tenant’s agent, he will collect half a month’s rental from you. If you didn’t engage an agent, you don’t have to pay at all.

  • Less than $1000 in rent
    The tenant pays half a month's rental.

    The landlord’s agent may not be able to get the landlord to pay him commission even though he may be marketing the property on his behalf. So the landlord’s agent has no choice but to collect his commission from you, the tenant.

    In lower-end rentals like these, you may not have much of a choice and negotiation power. So you have to be prepared to pay the landlord’s agent and he should be acting in your best interest (without compromising the landlord’s interest) even though he’s the landlord’s agent.

Do I really need a tenant’s agent to represent me in my search for a new home?

To hire or not to hire? That’s a question which only you, the tenant can answer for yourself. A competent tenant’s agent can render valuable help throughout the rental process. He could help you save time by doing research and scheduling house viewing appointments on your behalf.

When it comes to signing the Tenancy Agreement, he can be the second pair of eyes and help you cover as much ground as possible by ensuring the appropriate clauses and all possible scenarios are included.

However, note that the large majority of agents do not have a legal background. Most working agents in the industry use a predefined tenancy agreement template without an intimate understanding of the legal details. For large transactions, it's often the case that lawyers are still involved to oversee the legal agreements and clauses.

Tip: In Singapore, it's not compulsory for you to hire a property agent. Renting HDB and private residential properties in Singapore is straightforward and transparent, with legal rules and safeguards in place to protect both landlords and tenants.
A modern alternative

With the advent of technology, smart rental management platforms like Comfy has made it a breeze for prospective tenants like yourself to get in touch with landlords directly without engaging the services of a property agent. There are convenient features such as online listings, digital leases, and secure online rental payment to save you time and money.

Of course, one of the biggest advantages of using online residential rental management is that you save on having to pay your agent commission.

You can also access free learning resources from the Comfy blog. From drafting a Letter of Intent (LOI), stamp duty, security deposits, rental regulations, property inspection, property viewing to settling tenant-landlord disputes, you can familiarize yourself with the rental process.

With Comfy, looking for your next home sweet home is simple and straightforward!

I'm a landlord

A landlord’s agent is someone who is hired by the landlord to help you throughout the letting of your property. The responsibilities of a landlord’s agent include but are not limited to:

  • In consultation with you, he’ll come up with a competitive rental price that’s in line with the current market conditions for your property type
  • Market and publicise your property: from 'staging' your home, taking photographs of your property, placing ads
  • Manage and schedule property viewings with prospective tenants
  • Negotiate the best rental price in your interest
  • Prepare the Tenancy Agreement and make sure that all necessary clauses and possible scenarios are covered
  • Act as the mediator between you and your tenant should there be any maintenance required
  • Act as a mitigating party between you and your tenant should disputes happen down the road (Note: Agents are not obligated to do this)

It’s entirely up to the landlord to decide how much management power your agent has (if you choose to pay for one.) For instance, you may wish to personally deal with all matters relating to maintenance and disputes with your tenant after the Tenancy Agreement has been signed. You should clarify this with your agent so that he can give your name and contact details to the tenant (or the tenant’s agent) should the need to contact you arises.

However, note that the large majority of agents do not have a legal background. Most working agents in the industry use a predefined tenancy agreement template without an intimate understanding of the legal details. For large transactions, it's often the case that lawyers are still involved to oversee the legal agreements and clauses.

Landlord’s agent commission

If you, the landlord has engaged a property agent to serve as your agent, you’ll pay a commission according to the final agreed rental rate and lease period. Do note that property agents’ commissions in Singapore are entirely market-driven and no regulations on how much commission you should be paying have been officially stipulated.

If you didn’t enter into a binding lease with any of the prospective tenants whom your agent has recommended by the end of the period of his service (a period that has been mutually agreed upon before he started acting as your agent), you’re not required to pay him for any of the services rendered.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should exploit your agent or waste his time without any genuine intention of finding tenants through him. The following is a guide on how much commission you can be paying your agent.

  • Above $3500 in rent, 2-year lease
    You pay 1 month's rent.

    If there’s only a landlord’s agent (that is, the tenant contacts and deal with the landlord’s agent directly and doesn’t have any tenant’s agent representing him), the landlord’s agent keeps the full commission.

    If the tenant has engaged a tenant’s agent, the 1 month’s rental is usually evenly shared between the landlord’s agent and tenant’s agent.

  • Above $3500 in rent, 1-year lease
    The tenant pays half a month's rental. The landlord pays half a month's rental.

     If there’s only a landlord’s agent, he keeps the full commission.

  • Less than $3500, 1-year lease
    Your agent collects 1 month’s rent from you.
  • Less than $1000 in rent
    Your agent collects half a month’s rent from you.

    In this case, your agent may not be able to get you, the landlord to pay him commission even though he may be marketing the property on your behalf. So your agent has no choice but to collect his commission from the tenant instead. The tenant may not have much of a choice and negotiation power in lower-end rentals.

Should you hire an agent to help you rent out your property?

While a good landlord’s agent is a priceless helping hand in saving you time and headaches throughout your search for tenants and even tenant management after they move in, there are now smart rental management platforms like Comfy that gives you the option of dropping the services of a middleman and saving on agent’s commission.

Tip: In Singapore, it's not compulsory for you to hire a property agent. Renting HDB and private residential properties in Singapore is straightforward and transparent, with legal rules and safeguards in place to protect both landlords and tenants.
A modern alternative

On Comfy, you can post your listing, screen potential tenants, sign digital leases, track the status of any maintenance work and even securely collect rent - right from the comfort of your lounge chair.

There’s also a wealth of information for you - from drafting a Letter of Intent (LOI), stamp duty, security deposits, rental regulations, property inspection, property viewing, and settling tenant-landlord disputes.

With Comfy, looking for the next tenant and managing the tenancy without a property agent may not be as tough as you had imagined it to be. Get started with Comfy today!

In conclusion

Searching for a place to rent? Have a spare room you'd like to rent out? Check out Comfy! With online applications, digital leases, and online rent payments, Comfy's online platform helps landlords and tenants simplify their rental experience.

Get started with Comfy today!


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