The wife and I are guilty of “paying” our way to our son’s primary 1 place.
Instead of renting, we bought an apartment within 1-km of his school and sold it after he secured his place. But to be fair, we actually did stay in the apartment for over a year.
And frankly, we have no issue with parents renting/buying an apartment to get their kids into the primary school of their choice, as long as they have been living in the apartment concerned prior to registration.
To those who feel that this is unfair: what about, for example, the guaranteed places given to younger siblings of kids that are already studying in the primary school? One might argue the merits of having siblings studying in the same school or even insists that it is a necessity to entice married couples to have more kids. But how fair is that to the other kid whose home is next-door to the school but has no older sibling?
So whether it's a kid with older sibling, an old boy/girl (who may have absolutely no contact whatsoever with his/her alma mata until time for P1 registration), someone who is affiliated with the church or clan association, or a grassroot leader who is staying nowhere near to the primary school concerned, there will always be some “privileged group” who are granted priority ahead of others.
And in the words of one of our ex-boss: Yes, it's an unfair world out there so you just gotta suck it up!
Reference: "Parents 'renting' their way to popular schools?" - The Straits Times, 7th Aug 2012