Tenant’s guide to property viewing

Property viewing is an important step in the overall rental process that would be best if you do it personally. While it may be a tad time-consuming (the average prospective tenant will look at 3 or more properties before picking one) and you’ll have to do some pre-planning so as to optimise your ability to view most, if not all the units you’re interested in.

House viewing is essential as you’ll have a first look at the unit, its environment and amenities as well as interact with the prospective landlord face-to-face for the first time.

Before viewing the unit

Take a look at the surrounding environment, amenities and neighbourhood first. This makes perfect sense. Imagine the crushing disappointment should you discover a huge construction site round the corner (the dust and noise, and the potential mozzie hazard!) or that it’s impossible to get a loaf of bread or a bowl of laksa unless you drive for 15 minutes.

These are some information about the neighbourhood that most landlords will not volunteer, so you’ve got to check it out personally so that you don’t set yourself up for unwanted surprises.

If you don’t drive and rely on the bus or MRT to get around most of the time, go to your property viewing appointment using the public transport. This will give you a clear idea if your prospective home is conveniently accessible with your most commonly used mode of transportation.

The apartment

Most landlords will typically set aside 15 to 30 minutes for every prospective tenant to view the unit. There are some salient aspects in the apartment you should look out for:

General space

Do you like or are comfortable with the space planning of the apartment? Space is of a premium on our little red dot and you should check whether precious space in the apartment is unnecessarily taken up by cumbersome wardrobes, cabinets or awkwardly-arranged furniture.

While it’s possible that you can do a little shifting around on your own for the furniture, you shouldn’t attempt to tamper with other fittings such as in-built kitchen cabinets or flat-screen TV screens. You’ve got to be able to live comfortably in the current space of the unit without having to do too much re-arrangement or renovation (that is if the landlord lets you do any renovation at all).

If you’ve a few pieces of furniture to bring over to the new house:

Say your prospective home is already beautifully furnished, but you’ve a few pieces of prized furniture which you can’t do without. Does the house have enough storage space for you to park the extra furniture? Is it big enough to accommodate your favourite mattress or lounge chair? Think, think, think.

If the house is unfurnished:

You’ll need to quickly get a general sense of the type of furniture you may need to buy and how you can layout the available space. Don’t be afraid to whip out that tape measure and camera to snap photos. Also take notes like there’s no tomorrow.

Placement of windows and lighting

Singapore is a humid country with abundant sunshine all year round. While having natural light streaming into the house is wonderful, too much of it is probably going to make you feel like you’re baking in an oven. So check where the windows (make sure they’re well fitted too!) in the house are located and try to figure out at what times you’ll have the sun inside the house. Draw the curtains to assess how dark the room will be.

There are several mobile apps that can track the movement of the sun to let you visualize where the sunlight is going to be when you’re at a certain location. Tap into that ingenuity!

Power points and connectivity

If you’re one of those people who baulk at the thought of having extension cables running all over the place, you’ve to check where the plug points, including those for the TV and internet are around the house. If internet points are hidden in odd spots, they may not be conducive for wifi connectivity. Also ask your landlord if the property has been optimised for fibre broadband so that you can be getting the fastest internet speed.

You may also wish to flip some switches to have an idea how the unit will look with the existing lighting.

Kitchen appliances

If you’re a Jamie Oliver wannabe, you’d want to make sure that the kitchen is already well-equipped. Don’t be surprised that many units in Singapore don’t come with kitchen appliances such as an oven, which is a pretty standard feature in other countries.

Balcony and garden

If there’s a balcony in the house, it’s good to take time and hang around there for a while to survey the environment. Can someone from the opposite unit look into the house? Can you see any construction nearby (this could mean noise and dust)? If there’s a garden, check with the landlord what upkeep is necessary.

It’s normal for the landlord to ask for a higher price if his property has a beautiful view from the balcony. If having a house with a view isn’t at the top of your list, you may wish to look at other units with lower asking rent before coming to a decision.

Don’t forget to speak to your prospective landlord too

House viewing is a fantastic time to clarify whatever questions you may have. It’s better to be comprehensive and ask a lot of questions than leave things to chances. Those may potentially turn into trigger points for disputes in the future.

While not a thoroughly comprehensive list, here are some important aspects you may want to clarify with your prospective landlord:

  • Who is paying for the monthly utilities? Do you have to pay for half of it?
  • Confirm if all the furnishings that you see at the house viewing come with the rental.
  • If you don’t wish to have some of the items, ask if the landlord is able to remove (or store) them for you free-of-charge.
  • If the apartment is unfurnished, ask what appliances and fittings will be provided, if any.
  • When popping by the master bedroom and other rooms, ask if the unit gets the morning or evening light.
  • When was the last time the unit gets a paint job or the air-conditioner is serviced? This gives you some idea of how well (or shabbily) the landlord takes care of his property and whether you’ve major refurbishing work to do should you pick the unit.
  • Ask if you can do any renovation work and to what extent.

You can also use this house viewing checklist to help you note down the various aspects of the houses you’ve visited so that you can make a smarter renting decision!

In closing

There are multiple aspects to look out for when viewing a house. Be sure to be attentive and thorough!

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