British expat pays $10k to rent Sentosa Cove swimming pool amid coronavirus restrictions

The Sentosa Cove quayside isle area on June 29, 2019. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Not helping any with Singapore's image as home to a bunch of crazy-rich Asians comes the almost too-ridiculous-to-be-true story of a man who rented a swimming pool for $10,000 a month.

Faced with the prospect of not being able to swim in his condominium pool, which is closed because of Singapore's strict lockdown measures, the British expat cast around his neighbours' properties.

He initially wanted to lease the entire $30 million bungalow in Sentosa Cove, an upscale residential area on an island off Singapore's south coast. But the monthly rent of $30,000 was too high, considering it would have been on top of the not-insubstantial amount he was paying for a nearby apartment, according to Mr Lester Chen, a real estate agent at Singapore Realtors Inc.

"I asked the man why he wanted to rent the bungalow. Is it because of space restraint in his current home?" said Mr Chen, who handled the lease and declined to disclose his client's personal details. "The man replied that he just wanted to use the pool because his was closed due to the lockdown."

With Singapore entering its fourth week of a partial lockdown that has now been extended until June 1 to reduce a surge in coronavirus cases, people are barred from loitering outdoors. Public facilities such as sport halls and gyms are closed. Similarly, amenities in condos are shut to deter social mixing. Individuals face possible fines, jail terms or suspension of their work permits for non-compliance.

Since his client only wanted to use the pool at the Bali-themed house, Mr Chen came up with a proposal.

"I spoke to the owner and we agreed to lease out the pool and garden on two conditions. First, it will only be a short-term lease of three months. And if someone else wanted to rent the bungalow in its entirety, we can terminate the agreement," he said.

The two parties signed a deal on Sunday (April 26). While the house itself is locked to prevent entry, the man and his family have access through a side gate. The bungalow is a 10-minute jog from his condo, or a short golf-buggy drive away.

Mr Chen said there have been similar requests, with individuals wanting to rent bungalows in Sentosa Cove only because of their private pools and gardens. But that option isn't available to people living on the mainland, he said.

"I've rented out offices, factories, apartments and bungalows. But never just the amenities in a home. This was a first," he said.

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