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Your Say: What’s behind sharp hikes in rental hitting expats and what are the implications? TODAY readers weigh in

The issue of skyrocketing rents for expatriates here was hotly debated on social media this week, after some told TODAY that the steep hikes had made them contemplate leaving Singapore.

Some readers said the hikes were justified as landlords were themselves hit by higher interest rates, and suggested downgrading as an alternative. Others cautioned that an exodus of expatriates would have negative knock-on effects on businesses. Here’s a selection of comments:

The media doesn’t talk about the falling rents and stagnating yields of rental properties from 2015 to 2021… Landlords are often people who saved and scrimped to buy an investment property to better improve their income and retirement prospects, and these investments are not without risks. Interest has soared in the past 12 months. People seem to be okay with capitalism until it hurts their pockets… let’s accept it is a cyclical thing. As more supply reaches the market, rentals will fall. DAVID LIM

It might be a cyclical thing, but landlords have gotten greedy with the influx of expats from Hong Kong etcetra who are used to and prepared to pay huge rental costs. I’ve had friends who have had a 150 per cent increase on their monthly rental, which is insane. The general Singaporean perception that expats are on a free ride could not be further from the truth — most get no housing assistance and simply can’t sustain an increase (of) that sort. DAB AULD

DOWNGRADE HOUSING

There is cheaper accommodation available in the heartlands that can fit their budget. But if they are only looking at renting properties in districts 9, 10 and 11, they will definitely feel the pinch. AU KAH KAY

There are always Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats which are located in very well-planned and well-maintained towns. DAN CHEW

Such sentiments are quite shortsighted. Recent rental increases are no doubt steep but will course correct in due time. In any case, rentals here are still lower than Hong Kong or Tokyo for the size of the houses. People can always move out from expensive districts to city fringes. Nothing wrong with HDB flats too. HK TIONG

KNOCK-ON EFFECTS?

It really is a chicken and egg issue. If no foreign multinational company wishes to set up in Singapore, we are the ones who will lose out eventually because there won’t be enough jobs… at the end of the day, everyone suffers. RYAN TAN WEE SOON

Expats leaving is not necessarily a good thing for Singaporeans. First, without expats to rent these apartments, landlords will eventually suffer and are left to fend for themselves in a high interest rate environment. Secondly, fewer expats also mean less money being spent in the economy… and this would definitely have an impact on local businesses. Lastly, a massive brain drain of talent may result in many companies deciding to shift offices abroad to other cheaper places… this will result in massive layoffs. ジャステン简

Singapore depends very much on our talents (be it local or foreign) to attract big international companies setting up here. When talents start to leave for somewhere, the big companies start to leave too to where all these talents are going. And what will happen to the locals and their jobs? ARIEL ONG

Hopefully more doors (will) open to locals to fill up the vacancies. It will cost less to hire locals without the need for big pay packages that include accommodation and transportation. SHAHZ ABD

 

These comments were first posted on TODAY’s Facebook page. They have been edited for clarity, accuracy and length. If you have views on this issue or a news topic you care about, send a letter to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg with your full name, address and phone number.

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