Tips, tricks and useful stuff

Updates from Boxyrooms and useful articles.

France Just Created The Awesomest Labour Law Ever

People relax in chairs around a fountain in the Tuileries Garden

In France, what happens when you choose to reply your bosses’ work emails after 6pm on a workday? You commit a crime and punishable by law. I’d happily abide by the law, shut down my laptop at 6pm sharp and not think about work until the sun rises the following day (only if it’s a workday). This is just simply, totally, insanely awesome. I’m so jealous.

When the French clock off at 6pm, they really mean it

A new labour law in France means that employees must ignore their bosses’ work emails once they are out of the office and relaxing at home – even on their smartphones
Just in case you weren’t jealous enough of the French already, what with their effortless style, lovely accents and collective will to calorie control, they have now just made it illegal to work after 6pm.

Well, sort of. Après noticing that the ability of bosses to invade their employees’ home lives via smartphone at any heure of the day or night was enabling real work hours to extend further and further beyond the 35-hour week the country famously introduced in 1999, workers’ unions have been fighting back. Now employers’ federations and unions have signed a new, legally binding labour agreement that will require staff to switch off their phones after 6pm.

Under the deal, which affects a million employees in the technology and consultancy sectors (including the French arms of Google, Facebook, Deloitte and PwC), employees will also have to resist the temptation to look at work-related material on their computers or smartphones – or any other kind of malevolent intrusion into the time they have been nationally mandated to spend on whatever the French call la dolce vita. And companies must ensure that their employees come under no pressure to do so. Thus the spirit of the law – and of France – as well as the letter shall be observed.

That’s right. While we poor, pallid, cowering Brits scurry about, increasingly cowed by the threat of recession-based redundancy and government measures that privilege bosses’ and shareholder comfort over workers’ rights, the continentals are clocking off. While we’re staring down the barrel of another late one/extra shift/all-nighter, across the Channel they’re sipping sancerre and contemplating at least the second half of a cinq à sept before going home to enjoy the rest of that lovely “work/133-hours-per-week-of-life” balance.

C’est all right pour some, quoi?

The Guardian

I Don’t Think You Want To Get Into Trouble Renting Your HDB Flat

hdb flats

For renting of an HDB flat, you have to apply for rental approval or renewal (this can be done online) before you lease the unit, and after meeting the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP).

If the unit is not approved for rental renewal and the Tenants have to move out, the Landlord has to refund the deposit as well as the pro-rated rent already paid by the Tenant.

If there is any dispute during the process, the Tenant or Landlord can lodge the case with the Small Claims Tribunal. The Tenancy Agreement (TA) would become evidence for such disputes.

At the point of this writing, PR flat owners are not allowed to rent out their whole HDB flat. Singaporeans are only allowed to after fulfilling the MOP.

  • To rent to Singaporeans, the approval is granted for three years per application with no cap on the number of renewals and the total period of subletting.
  • To rent to non-Singaporeans, the approval will be granted for one and a half years per application and the extension will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. It will be granted only if there are extenuating reasons. The total period of subletting during the flat owners’ entire duration of the flat ownership is capped at five years.

The regulations are constantly changing – for the latest please check the HDB website here.

By Eileen Tan and Ui Wei Teck, property investors and authors of Enjoying Mid-Life Without Crisis. This tip and dozens more are from their book.

Never Underestimate The Amount Needed For Stamp Duty


Stamping the Tenancy Agreement (TA) is an important protection to both the Tenant and the Landlord.This document binds both parties until the end of the lease.

Evasion of stamp duty is a serious offence in Singapore.In most TAs, this cost is borne by the Tenant.

The TA is the only contractual document given to the Tenants for their rights to stay in the said premise and also gives rights to the Landlord to take action for any breach of the covenant with the forfeiture clause (e.g. when the Tenants have not paid the rental on time).

The stamp duty rates are as follows (for every $250 or part thereof of the average annual rent), applicable for annual rents exceeding $1,000:

stamp duty rental singapore

By Eileen Tan and Ui Wei Teck, property investors and authors of Enjoying Mid-Life Without Crisis. This tip and dozens more are from their book.

It’s Tough To Be A Landlord. Do you have what it takes?


The responsibilities of a Landlord are considerable. It’s not just about providing a space for your tenants. There are rents to collect, repairs to attend to and maintenance to deal with. You also have to handle unsatisfactory Tenants and consider the relevant laws.

As a Landlord you have to recognize that your tenants are your customers and they are the ones paying or covering part of the mortgage loan for you. So do treat your Tenants nicely and provide a clean, safe and functional house for them to enjoy their stay.

It is a good practice to stay engaged with your Tenant regularly to be aware of the condition of the house they are staying in. Regardless of how well-built the house is, there is bound to be wear-and-tear and it may need repair and rectification from time to time.

Bad weather tends to lead to more wear-and-tear and may even cause some structural problems to your house. Address the problems early and rectify it as soon as possible.Spending some money upfront will help to avoid expenses on big ticket items in the future.

We are not saying you have to check on your Tenant on a monthly basis – once a quarter is more than sufficient. It is necessary to keep a safe distance with your Tenants.Being too close may give your Tenants a chance to delay or avoid paying rent!

By Eileen Tan and Ui Wei Teck, property investors and authors of Enjoying Mid-Life Without Crisis. This tip and dozens more are from their book.

Treat Your Tenants Like Your Friends And Earn The Respect You Deserve


Apart from not treating their tenants as valued customers, most small apartment building owners also take it personal when a tenant or tenants do not pay their rent in time.

This is where they go wrong. It is easy to consider the fact that a good number of tenants can sometimes cause headaches with noise complaints, late rent payment and other issues which may be a thorn in the side of the small apartment building owners.

Even though the apartment building owners may be interested in calculating and analysing the returns being made by their investment, they get heated under the collar and take some things personally when dealing with tenants. This is not good for business. Professional managers and multifamily owners have had to learn this the hard way.

In most residential areas of the country, tenants always have the choice of choosing where they want to live. This is because of one or more reasons. You can find out that they live in that apartment since it is closer to the supermarket or shopping mall or even their work place. Maybe they live there because they are impressed with the playground that is available for their kids or because of the location of the apartment.

The reason for renting is only known to the tenant. However, if the reason for renting is being countered by something more negatively or equally, for example rude and unhelpful staff at the office or even unresponsive maintenance technicians, the tenant will effeminately start looking for other apartments to live in immediately the lease expires.

If the negatives and problems the tenants experience are bad enough, they will be her or his reasons for leaving. In case the apartment building manager or owner gives a number of reasons for leaving for most of the tenants, there will be a costly impact on the returns being made by the investment.

Here are a few simple things that can be done by the owner to improve the living experience for his or her tenants.

  • Creating an online community blog where tenants can get to know each other.
  • Creating a direct deposit account to make rent payment easy for tenants.
  • Throwing a pizza or Halloween party.
  • Giving incentives to the tenants so that they pay rent on time. For instance, the owner can offer a $75 gift voucher to a nice restaurant only to tenants who pay their rent on time annually.
  • Creating an online newsletter if the community is large enough.
  • Arranging for a group discount for all the tenants living in your apartment for car washes. Not many businesses agree to offer a group discount.

In a nutshell, when renting your apartment building to tenants, just a little creativity can help you provide the tenants with a living experience that will encourage many reasons for renting and a few reasons for leaving. If the above mentioned tips can be implemented for no or little cost, your apartment will never miss clients. This way, you will be able to create and retain a very large tenant base.