Black and White Houses in Singapore: How to Rent Colonial Houses from SLA (2023)

Black and White Houses in Singapore: How to Rent Colonial Houses from SLA (2023)
Black and White Houses in Singapore: How to Rent Colonial Houses from SLA (2023)

Have you been following the Ridout Road black and white houses saga? Tl;dr, ministers K. Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan were recently investigated following their rentals of two black and white bungalows along Ridout Road.

This investigation started after opposition Reform party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam wrote a series of articles questioning whether the ministers were “paying less than the fair market value” for their Ridout Road rental properties.

Since then, K. Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan have been cleared by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) of any corrupt or criminal behaviour. Politics aside, are you curious why black and white houses appeal to even our top leaders? Read on for our breakdown of this unique property type.

Black and White Houses in Singapore: Overview

Black and white houses in Singapore (also known as colonial houses) have a long, storied history. They were built from the 19th century up till the end of the 1930s and mostly housed European colonial and expatriate families.

If you happen to take a stroll down the UNESCO Singapore Botanic Gardens, you would have likely noticed the Atbara House nestled on top of a hill along Gallop Road. Constructed in 1898, the structure paved the way for this type of architectural style in Singapore. While its colours are black and white, it is technically not a Singapore black and white house, but a very ‘close cousin’ instead.

Regardless, the Atbara House and black and white houses look awesome. You may be wondering how amazing it would be to live in a heritage colonial house like that. Well, spoiler alert: you can.

What is a Black and White House in Singapore?

As you can probably already guess, the colonial house gets its name from the monotonous colours of the dark timber beams and whitewashed walls.

Built and designed by the British in the 19th century, they were once the homes of high-ranking government officials, high court judges, and rich businessmen. Black and white houses were also used as military administrations and boarding schools for children of British soldiers.

The architecture of the colonial house is based on a Tudorbethan style, and also adapted features from Malay kampong houses, such as high ceilings and stilts for ventilation (remember this was pre-aircon days). Some Singapore black and white houses are also elevated from the ground to prevent termites attacks and flash floods.

Today, there are about 500 of these black and white houses remaining in locations such as Seletar. Managed and preserved by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), they are mostly state-owned. While most black and white houses are rented out for commercial purposes (e.g. restaurants and businesses), some are reserved for residential stays.

In order to preserve the heritage of these colonial houses, owners are not allowed to make changes to the look and feel of their rental black and white houses.

What Makes Black and White Bungalows in Singapore so Highly Coveted?

As you may have guessed, black and white houses are high in demand because of their limited supply and unique colonial-style architecture. After all, not everyone can say they live in a historic home that’s rich in heritage.

Apart from their design and appeal, they are also big and spacious, even when compared to Good Class bungalows (GCBs). Some colonial houses are bigger than 5,000 sq ft and have a land area of over 31,000 sq ft. 

They’re typically two-storey high, and have airy rooms, grand halls, big verandas, large windows, and lush gardens. Some SLA black and white houses for rent also include a swimming pool.

Often, these homes are snapped up quickly as soon as they’re listed on the market. So if you’re on the lookout for one, it’s best to be quick!

Where Can You Find Black and White Bungalows in Singapore?

Many of these colonial houses can be found in Sembawang and Seletar, though they’re also distributed in different areas throughout Singapore. Here are some of their popular locations:

Location Where to find black and white colonial houses
Central Goodwood Hill, Dempsey Hill, Ridley Park, Adam Park, Chancery Lane, Barker Road
West Wessex Estate, Rochester Park, Nepal Hill, Mount Pleasant, Fifth Avenue
North Sembawang Park, Seletar Camp, Cyprus Road,
South Mount Faber, Alexandra Park, Gillman Barracks
East Changi Road

Can You Buy A Black and White Bungalows in Singapore?

You can’t buy a black and white house in Singapore but you can apply to rent one from SLA. They’re rented out via an open-bidding system where the homes are leased out for two years. Prices are also determined by the demand, and will likely cost a bomb! 

SLA Black and White Houses for Rent

Still interested? Here’s how you can apply for a Singapore black and white house rental from SLA:

  1. Visit SLA’s site and view available listings
  2. Contact the managing agent
  3. Send your application and submit the required documents
  4. Wait for the result
  5. Sign the tenancy agreement, and pay the deposit and stamp duties

Step 1: Visit SLA’s Site and View Available Listings

SLA will put up available black and white houses for rent in Singapore on their site. Simply shortlist the ones that you like.

Step 2: Contact the Managing Agent

Found one that you like? Reach out to the managing agent (the contact details are provided in the listing) and schedule an appointment to rent a colonial house in Singapore.

Be sure to read the full terms and conditions, and check your eligibility before going for the viewing. If you’re applying as an individual, your average monthly income must be at least three times the offered rent.

Step 3: Send Your Application and Submit the Required Documents

Prepare the documents needed to officially submit your tender. Head to the individual listing page and download the application form. Fill in your particulars and submit them together with the necessary documents. Now all you need to do is to wait for the result.

Step 4: Wait for the Result

If you’re shortlisted to rent a black and white house, you may have to attend a tender interview and SLA will evaluate your tender as well as other factors such as your intention and concepts for the home, track record, and financial health.

Step 5: Sign Tenancy Agreement, and Pay Deposit and Stamp Duties

If successful, you would need to prepare the documents in the Letter of Acceptance including signing the Tenancy Agreement, paying a month’s rental in advance, three months’ worth of security deposit, stamp duties, and an administrative fee of $200. 

Alternatively, Find Bungalow/Landed Houses for Rent on PropertyGuru

Find black and white houses too expensive? Why not rent a regular landed property or bungalow on PropertyGuru instead? They’re as spacious and way more affordable. Discover available homes here.

For more property news, content and resources, check out PropertyGuru’s guides section.

Looking for a new home? Head to PropertyGuru to browse the top properties for sale in Singapore.

Need help financing your latest property purchase? Let the mortgage experts at PropertyGuru Finance help you find the best deals.

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