Subsidised HDB rental flats in greater demand now

Subsidised HDB rental flats in greater demand now

 

30% jump in applicants in past few months; HDB says not all are needy

 

By Theresa Tan

 

THE number of people applying for heavily subsidised HDB rental flats has shot up by at least 30 per cent in the past few months – to about 4,000 eligible applicants on the waiting list now.

 

As a result, the wait for these one- and two-room rental units is now up to 15 months – double the waiting time in 2006.

 

Though families hit by soaring rentals on the open market and those in financial difficulty are among those in the queue, the Housing Board said not all applicants are ‘needy or have urgent housing needs’.

 

It said that last year, more than half who applied for its rental units were former home owners who did not owe the HDB any money when they sold their flats.

 

In fact, some of those in the rental queue had enough money to buy a smaller unit after selling their flat, said National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan in the recent Budget debate.

 

The HDB stressed that its rental flats are meant for the poor who cannot afford to own a flat and have no other housing option.

 

Any family whose household income is $1,500 or less a month can apply for rental housing. Also, they must wait for 30 months after selling their flats before being eligible for subsidised rental homes.

 

MPs interviewed say they are seeing more and more people approaching them for help in securing a rental flat.

 

Besides those hit by rising rentals and financial troubles, there were others who had their flats repossessed by banks when they could not service their home loans.

 

The heavily subsidised HDB rental units are the only lifeline for these people, say the MPs interviewed, who included Ms Indranee Rajah, Madam Cynthia Phua and Madam Halimah Yacob.

 

Depending on household income and other factors, rentals are between $26 and $205 a month for a one-room flat; and between $44 and $275 for a two-room unit.

 

One person who has been on the waiting list for the past few months is part-time promoter Chan Yoke Yin, 46.

 

Her family ran into debt when her husband, a bus driver, was hit by cancer and a stroke, and had to stop work about four years ago.

 

The family started to fall behind in loan payments, and now owes the HDB more than $300,000 for a five-room flat. Madam Chan, who earns about $1,000 monthly, says she has ‘no choice’ but to sell her flat.

 

Ms Rajah said: ‘I have had an inordinately large number of people coming for help to get a rental flat last year.

 

‘There seems to be an acute shortage of rental flats.’

 

She has seen at least two cases of people living in the open while waiting for a rental unit, she said. One is an odd-job worker who has been sleeping at a bin centre for months, while the other is a family living on the beach.

 

The HDB says people who need a flat urgently can switch to estates where the wait is shorter, for example, in Woodlands. Waiting time at these estates is around three months, compared to Bedok and Tampines, where one can wait for up to 15 months.

 

Meanwhile, the HDB is referring those in urgent need to charities which run temporary shelters. The first shelter for homeless families, New Hope Community Services, has taken in about 20 families since opening last year.

 

It is managing ‘a few’ flats for this purpose, the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) told The Straits Times.

 

‘These families are not allowed to stay long term at these flats and are expected to move out as soon as they find alternative housing,’ said the MCYS spokesman. ‘Many such families have been able to move on to stay with their relatives or friends.’

 

HDB is also increasing the supply of rental flats from the current 43,000 units to 50,000 over the next few years and reviewing the eligibility criteria for rental housing to help the ‘genuinely poor’.

 

Source: Straits Times

Buying into markets now – a gamble or an investment?

Buying into markets now – a gamble or an investment?

 

Some observers say US sub-prime woes nearing end, but sceptics advise caution

 

By Yang Huiwen

 

SUDDENLY, things are looking a lot brighter on the stock market, both at home and abroad.

 

Last month, the Straits Times Index (STI) posted its best gain since September last year – up 4.7 per cent.

 

And yesterday’s dazzling 88-

 

point, one-day gain just adds to a sense that all is well again, as though the credit crunch and market turbulence of recent months are now just a bad memory.

 

But is the worst really over? Or is this one of those notorious false dawns where hopes are raised only to be dashed soon after?

 

To get things in perspective, just remember that year-end targets for the STI set late last year ranged from 3,900 to 4,430 points.

 

This is a market that has fallen more than 12 per cent from six months ago, similar to other Asian markets.

 

There is growing talk, however, that the credit crisis, resulting from mass defaults in United States sub-prime mortgages, is nearing its end.

 

US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson buoyed markets with comments that the credit crisis was probably more than half over.

 

Britain‘s central bank was also upbeat. Its deputy governor, Mr John Gieve, said ‘the most likely path ahead is that confidence and risk appetite will return gradually in the coming months’.

 

Encouraging signs

 

Other developments have helped to ease investors’ worst fears.

 

It turns out, for example, that the US avoided a recession in the first quarter, despite widespread fears. For Asia, including China, the world’s largest economy is a vital export market.

 

Some stock market analysts are interpreting the STI’s healthy recent rise as providing evidence that the worst is indeed over.

 

AmFraser Securities senior vice-president of research Najeeb Jarhom pointed to yesterday’s significant breakout past the 3,200-

 

point level by the STI, which closed at 3,236.1 points.

 

Mr Najeeb believes the local benchmark will continue its rally to 3,400 to 3,500 points with minor pullbacks along the way. This target could be reached in the next week or two, he said.

 

Other analysts are almost as upbeat, expecting the STI to move towards the 3,300-point level and then later to the range of 3,428 to 3,470.

 

One leading indicator of market performance is the bourse operator itself, the Singapore Exchange (SGX). After all, the counter’s fortunes rise and fall on the level of activity on the bourse.

 

The anticipated improvement in market sentiment drove the SGX’s share price up more than 21 per cent since the beginning of last month to $9.30 yesterday.

 

Another significant development is that shares of banks are also being snapped up. They have rallied about 20 per cent from their troughs in February – a reflection that worries are dissipating.

 

Banking stocks around the globe were hammered as big losses associated with the sub-prime crisis began to emerge.

 

Another positive sign for the market is evidence that foreign fund managers are steering money back into the region.

 

In the week ended April 23, strong inflows to Asian funds resumed and reached US$1.5 billion (S$2.1 billion) – close to previous peaks that occurred in the market boom in the second half of last year, according to a Citigroup report.

 

This is a reversal of fortune from earlier this year, when a record total of US$10.7 billion was pulled out of Asia’s stock markets in 10 weeks.

 

However, the report sounded a note of caution. Fund flows remain volatile and may even turn negative, as has happened in the months of May and June in the past two years.

 

Hold the bubbly

 

The idea that the credit crisis has bottomed out may be a hard sell to sceptics, who caution that temporary exuberance may lull people into thinking that the hard times are over.

 

‘After January, everyone thought that was about the end of it. But JPMorgan’s buying Bear Stearns in March led to more questions as to how much more exposure there was to the US sub-prime crisis,’ said an industry expert, who declined to be named.

 

Yes, a repeat of the near collapse of US investment bank Bear Stearns may seem unlikely, but Mr Paulson, Mr Gieve and others who were upbeat following the recent turn of events may have been overly optimistic about other lending losses.

 

Credit cards, and car and business loans, for example, are the next ones in line to suffer from higher default rates stemming from a slowdown, some say.

 

As for Asian stock markets, they may have registered healthy growth over the past weeks, but there are a few caveats.

 

Low trading volume remains a concern and suggests that confidence is still fragile and with high levels of uncertainty just beneath the surface. Investors want to believe the good times are back. They are still inclined to err on the side of caution. Once bitten, twice shy, so to speak.

 

Average daily volume for April was 1.56 billion shares, almost half that of October’s average daily volume of 3.06 billion. Low trading volumes also mean that relatively small total trading sums can result in a relatively large percentage change in the market.

 

There is also a disconnect between blue-chip stocks and second-liners. While investors are buying blue chips, the main constituents of the benchmark STI, it does not mean that money is flowing to small and medium cap players that form the vast majority of listed companies.

 

The FTSE ST Small Cap Index plunged more than 33 per cent, while the Mid Cap Index was down by more than 18 per cent from six months ago, starkly lower than the main index’s 12 per cent fall.

 

Potential earnings downgrades may also continue to pressure markets, if indeed the US and global economy are slowing down significantly.

 

The recent US economic growth figures may have showed positive, albeit threadbare, first-quarter growth, but a credit crunch-induced recession is still on the cards, some analysts say.

 

In the days and weeks ahead, Singapore investors will have to make judgments about whether the worst is indeed over, and whether this is the time to jump into the stock market to pick up what may well prove with hindsight to be bargains.

 

It’s no easy call – and even the experts are divided.

 

Source: Straits Times

Missing owners’ condo unit sold for $1.6m

Missing owners’ condo unit sold for $1.6m

 

By Joyce Teo

 

AN UNUSUAL auction of an apartment at King’s Mansion off Tanjong Katong Road has attracted strong bidding – driving up the sale price to $1.59 million, well above expectations.

 

The condominium’ s management corporation had taken the rare step of selling the three-bedroom property after the owners had disappeared for more than a decade.

 

The auction, conducted on Wednesday, came after the foreign owners had failed to pay property fees, which could have run up to $30,000 or more.

 

The management corporation had tried repeatedly to get in touch with the four owners and their lawyers – but to no avail.

 

The sale price was considered fairly strong in a generally weak auction market, analysts said.

 

The starting bid for the freehold 1,604 sq ft high-floor unit was $1.18 million, which was within the guide price of $1.1 million to $1.2 million.

 

Five bidders chased the price up, with a local businessman succeeding in buying the unit at $1.59 million, said Knight Frank’s auctioneer, Ms Mary Sai.

 

This price works out to about $991 per sq ft (psf), considerably higher than the starting bid of $735 psf.

 

A somewhat larger unit at King’s Mansion, at 1,808 sq ft, sold for $1,106 psf a few months back, according to a caveat lodged in February.

 

After deducting fees and other expenses, such as costs associated with arranging this week’s auction, the management corporation is expected to keep the rest of the money in a trust for the owners.

 

Mystery surrounds why the owners departed the scene and why they have failed to make themselves known despite publicity prior to the auction.

 

If they ever do reappear to claim the balance of the sale proceeds, it is likely they will make a tidy profit.

 

Source: Straits Times

That condo is moving out of reach

That condo is moving out of reach

 

By Tilak Abeysinghe & Gu Jiaying

 

THERE have been several episodes of residential property price escalations in Singapore that may have overshot income levels. But just how do we determine if private property prices have become more or less affordable?

 

We have developed a housing affordability index thatmight add an additional indicator to help answer policy questions on housing affordability. Standard measures that link property prices to annual incomes are not enough. Here we present a more meaningful index that we developed primarily to assess the affordability of private residential housing in Singapore.

 

Buying a residential property is a long-term decision. We need, therefore, a measure of a household’s long-term income. For this we obtained unpublished data from the Department of Statistics on median household income since 1990 by age of household head at five-year intervals from age 20 to 64. The raw data shows income peaks occurring at age groups 30-34 and 55-59. If we remove the effect of different birth cohorts from the data, we can see that income peaks around age 50.

 

From the above income data, we used statistical techniques to estimate the income of different birth cohorts over their working age. From this, we computed a time series of lifetime incomes as the discounted present value of future income streams – that is, calculating future incomes in terms of today’s dollars.

 

Chart 1 plots the lifetime income of middle-income earners by birth year. Significantly, the lifetime incomes of those born before the 1960s were stagnant. As can be seen from the chart, whether one was born in 1926 or 1956, the lifetime median income hovered around $500,000 in 2000 prices. (Most of these cohorts were in their old age during our observation period.)

 

The lifetime median incomes of those born after 1960 were significantly higher, coinciding with the rapid economic growth of Singapore at that time. But the lifetime median incomes of those born after the mid-1970s taper off. This is because these people began their working lives after the mid-1990s, when the economy entered a turbulent period beginning with the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.

 

Having developed a chart tracking the lifetime median incomes of different cohorts, we linked this to property prices to derive an index. We divided long-term income for any chosen age group by the price of a selected type of property. This gives us a housing affordability index, which in essence measures property price against the median lifetime income of a household.

 

Chart 2 plots the income-price ratio for the 30-year-old group each year considering buying private residential property. We focus on this age group because that is roughly the age at which people might begin to buy private residential property. One graph on the chart looks strictly at this income-price ratio.

 

The other graph ‘with HDB upgrader effect’ tries to capture the wealth effect generated by rising HDB resale prices. We assume that the 30-year-old had bought a subsidised HDB flat, resold it, and directed all cash proceeds from the sale into the purchase of a private property. In practice, not all HDB resale proceeds accrue to the seller, but for lack of available data, we assume that it does. This means the ‘HDB wealth effect’ as represented on the graph is an overestimate, but it provides a useful indicator nevertheless.

 

Chart 2 is instructive. In 1975, a 30-year-old’s lifetime income was nearly five times the amount he would have paid for a private property. But with prices rising, by 1983, his lifetime income would have sufficed to purchase only one private property. This trend continued: By 1997, a 30-year-old’s lifetime income would have been enough to pay for only about 60 per cent of the price of an average private property.

 

In other words, as a result of the rapid increase in property prices in the early 1980s, private housing affordability dropped rapidly. After recovering somewhat in the late 1980s, affordability further declined in the 1990s when property prices escalated to unexpected heights. Last year, affordability moved in the downward direction.

 

Generally, since 1992, the index has hovered around unity – that is, lifetime income has just about equalled the price of one property. The pattern is the same even for HDB upgraders, though their affordability is somewhat better.

 

An income-price ratio of unity means that a middle-income household that buys an average-priced private property would be locking up its entire lifetime income in that property. The price escalation in the mid-1990s pushed the income-price ratio below unity, indicating a scenario of perpetual debt if a middle-income earner had committed to an average- (or higher-) priced private property.

 

The same computations using the data available since 1990 for average-priced HDB resale flats show a much better picture. The HDB affordability index dropped from eight in 1990 to three in 1996 and then recovered to five between 2001 and 2006. The price hike last year led to a slight drop in the index to 4.5, which means lifetime earnings were equal to 4.5 times the price of an HDB flat.

 

An optimal rate for property price inflation should be one that does not erode housing affordability. The long- term growth rate of our lifetime income measure is about 4-5 per cent, which has also been the long-term growth rate of per-capita disposable income. But the long-term increase in property prices has been much higher.

 

There are serious implications when housing affordability is eroded to the point where higher prices do not translate into higher wealth for property owners. For example, if affordability sinks below unity, this generation’s lifetime income would not be enough to pay for the property, so the wealth from higher prices cannot accrue to the property owner today. Housing wealth may end up being transferred to the children of the current owners.

 

If this occurs, a question would arise: How to balance the cost of private property to the current generation against the benefits that might accrue to their children of having higher-valued properties?

 

On this point, our colleague Professor Basant Kapur thinks that a system of intergenerational transfers may work, whereby children can compensate their parents for such properties once they start earning. The complex of issues this raises would require another detailed research paper to examine.

 

Tilak Abeysinghe is the deputy director of the Centre for Applied and Policy Economics, Department of Economics, National University of Singapore.

 

Gu Jiaying is a research fellow at the centre.

 

Source: Straits Times

Why I decided to write my will

Why I decided to write my will

 

By Lorna Tan Finance Correspondent

 

Death is inevitable, but we prefer to believe that it will not happen to us today or tomorrow. As a result, many of us choose not to dwell on it.

 

You may think I am paranoid. But in my case, I like to plan ahead and this means putting my financial affairs in order so that the person tasked with administering my estate or everything I own – when I am no longer in this world – will find it as hassle-free as possible.

 

For a start, I have a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that lists all my assets and liabilities. It includes details of bank accounts, insurance policies, stocks, investment portfolios and properties. I review it from time to time and always update it before any overseas trip.

 

The spreadsheet is backed up in a thumb drive and kept in an accessible location in the house together with my insurance plans, investment files and my will, which is registered at the Wills Registry.

 

I also made a fresh nomination on my Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings after my marriage. This is because nominations made prior to one’s marriage are automatically invalidated after a marriage. Furthermore, the distribution of CPF savings after a member’s death is not covered by wills. Do note that CPF nominations do not include CPF savings put into investments, but they do include CPF funds held in fixed deposits with banks.

 

I made it a point to remind a close friend where these items can be found just in case both my husband and I kick the bucket at the same time.

 

All this started when I was saddled with the morbid thought of dying. It had crept up on me one day when I realised that I would be on the same plane as my husband, flying from Singapore to India.

 

We were working for different multinational corporations then and in that particular instance, nine years ago, we were travelling together but on separate business trips to Mumbai.

 

My immediate concern was who would be the guardians of our two children if the plane went down and both my husband and I perished.

 

Who would the children live with and to whom could I entrust my assets and investments till they reached the age of 21? How could I ensure that my parents, whom I support financially, would have enough money after my demise?

 

My husband and I promptly made an appointment with a lawyer to make a will each.

 

I thought it would be a quick and painless visit involving some paperwork, but I was wrong.

 

I got all worked up and very upset in the lawyer’s office because my husband and I could not see eye to eye on what would go into the wills.

 

With hindsight, it would have helped if both of us had talked through a checklist of things that are typically included in a will before we trooped down to the lawyer’s office.

 

To give you an idea, here are some of them:

 

·  Appointing suitable personal representatives who will take charge of your estate and distribute it according to your will;

 

·  Deciding what to do with assets such as properties, investments, insurance proceeds and cars, after your death;

 

·  Appointing guardians for young children; and

 

·  Gifts to relatives, friends and charitable organisations.

 

Although a will can be withdrawn and altered at any time, it pays to get yours right as the future well-being of your family may depend on it. A badly written will could create lasting unhappiness and grief.

 

The advantages of having a will and the peace of mind that it brings definitely outweigh the cost. In my case, I paid about $250 for mine.

 

If I die without a will, my estate will be distributed according to intestacy rules. Under these rules, my estate will be shared between my husband and my children.

 

I have since reviewed my will twice and will continue to review it regularly.

 

Till today, what my lawyer said as my husband and I were leaving her office after our wills had been done up is still etched in my mind.

 

Winking her eye, she whispered to me that the best part of making wills was that no one needed to know what the contents of my will were, and if I chose to make a new will one day, it would supersede the one she had just helped me make.

 

 

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WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE A WILL

 

If I die without a will…

 

My estate will be distributed according to intestacy rules.

 

Under these rules, my estate would be shared between my husband and children.

 

If I were childless…

 

Half of my estate would go to my husband and half to my parents.

 

If I were single and childless…

 

My parents would inherit my estate equally. In the absence of my parents, my siblings would inherit my estate, but if they were deceased, their children would be next in line.

 

If I had no siblings…

 

My grandparents would be my beneficiaries.

 

And in their absence, my estate would be divided among my uncles and/or aunts.

 

If I had no uncles or aunts…

 

Then everything I had would go to the Government.

 

Source: Straits Times

When do I need a probate?

When do I need a probate?

 

Where do you see this?

 

In court documents and newspaper articles.

 

What does it mean?

 

When there is a will, the deceased’s estate or assets can be accessed by the family and descendants and distributed among them only after a grant of probate has been obtained from the courts.

 

The estate or assets are frozen under estate administration laws in the meantime.

 

The objective is to make sure that an estate is distributed according to the wishes of the deceased.

 

If there is no will, letters of administration will substitute the term probate.

 

Why is it important?

 

The process of obtaining a grant of probate in Singapore can last from a few months to two years or more.

 

Meanwhile, there is expenditure such as funeral expenses and other bills to be taken care of, so the deceased’s family may be facing difficult cash-flow problems.

 

Worse still, if the assets of the deceased are not properly managed or if the estate has to pay fees while it is being managed, the overall value of the estate could fall.

 

Factors that may cause delays include legal complications in administering the assets, difficulty in gathering evidence and determining the full extent of the deceased’s estate or assets.

 

These delaying factors may in turn create problems in accounting for the exact amount that each of the beneficiaries ought to receive.

 

So you want to use the term. Just say…

 

‘The property that is in the sole name of my father would not be formally transferred until probate is granted on his estate.’

 

Lorna Tan

 

Source: Straits Times

Smith Street Food Centre reopens after $17.3m facelift

Smith Street Food Centre reopens after $17.3m facelift

 

By Samantha Eng , Chen Meiyue

 

Brighter, cleaner and more airy.

 

That’s the opinion of many stallholders and customers when asked by The Sunday Times to describe the revamped Smith Street Food Centre.

 

The three-storey market and food centre, closed in July 2006 for upgrading, reopened last Thursday.

 

It now boasts more seats, better lifts and escalators as well as ramps and wheelchair-friendly tables.

 

The upgrading took 22 months and cost $17.3 million. During this period, half the stalls were relocated to a temporary site in Outram Road.

 

Commenting on the makeover, IT professional Paul Ng, 36, said: ‘The old food centre cannot hold a candle to this one. It used to be hot and dark, but now it is bright and airy.’

 

Retiree David Chow, 58, noted that the extra fans and new table arrangements have made the place cooler and more pleasant.

 

Noodle stall assistant Tay Ah Seng, 60, said Singaporeans are particular about cleanliness, ‘so more customers will come now that it is cleaner’.

 

But tenants in the wet market at the basement preferred the old market or even the temporary site.

 

Said a seafood seller, who wanted to be known only as Madam Huang: ‘The basement is hot and stuffy because of the cover installed for the lights.

 

‘The temporary site was better because it had a big parking space for customers and delivery trucks.’

 

Rent has also increased for all stall owners. For example, the rent for cooked food stalls used to range from $160 to $546, depending on whether it was subsidised, tendered or at market rates. Now, the range is between $320 and $1,100.

 

And while the revamp has generally got the thumbs up, nostalgia still reigns for one stallholder.

 

Said fruit seller Lim Mun Wai, 44: ‘This place is too modern. The old-time Chinatown feel is no longer here. We are now just like any market and no longer attractive to tourists.’

 

Source: Straits Times

HDB rental market remains strong

HDB rental market remains strong

 

Flats much sought after because of spillover demand from private homes market, but agents say rents are unlikely to rise much more

 

By Joyce Teo Property Correspondent

 

The rental market for Housing Board flats remains hot, with rents up in the first quarter as more home owners apply for permission to rent out whole flats.

 

Rents for some executive flats in Queenstown have gone as high as $2,900 a month, a price previously seen only with private apartments.

 

Property agents say that although prices are flattening out, rental demand for HDB flats remains strong, thanks partly to spillover demand from the private homes market, where rents surged dramatically last year.

 

More Western expatriates can be found renting HDB flats these days. However, demand for HDB flats still comes mainly from Malaysian, Chinese and Indian nationals working in Singapore, says Mr Eugene Lim, an assistant vice-president of ERA Realty Network.

 

‘Although HDB rentals have gone up, HDB flats are still among the cheapest forms of rental housing for them,’ he said.

 

‘Demand will continue to rise mainly because of the continuous influx of foreign talent, especially with the upcoming casino and international events such as Formula One,’ said Mr Steven Tan, the executive director of the residential division at OrangeTee.com.

 

Nevertheless, rentals are unlikely to surge from current levels. ‘We are starting to see some resistance,’ said Mr Tan.

 

In Toa Payoh, which is close to town, first-quarter median rents ranged from $1,400 for a three-room flat to $1,780 for a four-roomer and $2,150 for a five-roomer, going by HDB data.

 

A little farther up north, first-quarter median rents in Ang Mo Kio started at a lower $1,300 for a three-room flat and moved up to $1,880 for a five-roomer.

 

While Tampines might be some distance from town, median rents for flats in the regional commercial hub ranged from $1,480 for a three-room flat to $1,950 for a five-roomer.

 

How much a flat can fetch depends on its location. Those next to MRT stations tend to command more, agents say.

 

Five-room flats in Choa Chu Kang fetched a median monthly rent of $1,480; those in Bukit Merah, $2,000.

 

Executive flats, some of which used to fetch monthly rents similar to those for five-room flats, now go for more, starting from $1,530 and going as high as $2,900.

 

‘HDB rentals are quite high now. I think this is the limit,’ says property agent Germaine Ng. ‘I already saw resistance two months ago. Fewer tenants are coming to the market.’

 

Even if rents remain at current levels, HDB flats would make attractive investments, albeit only for those who are eligible to rent them out. Flat owners can rent out their entire unit after occupying it for three years. This minimum occupation period goes up to five years if they bought the flat with a subsidy or housing grant.

 

For instance, a five-room flat in Ang Mo Kio might be worth just $400,000 but it could fetch a monthly rent of $1,800, which would give a yield of 5.4 per cent.

 

‘This is a very good yield considering that rental yields for private homes usually fall below 4 per cent,’ said Mr Lim.

 

This explains why more and more people want to rent out entire flats. In the first three months of this year, 3,581 flat owners – most of them with three- or four-room flats – were given approval to rent out their flats.

 

Last year, 12,808 sub-letting approvals, of which about a third were for three-room flats, were given. In 2006, 8,544 approvals were given.

 

HDB flat owners can apply online for sub-letting approvals. Those who want to rent out just the rooms do not need HDB approval to do so, but they must continue to live in the flat and comply with other sub-letting conditions.

 

joyceteo@sph. com.sg

 

 

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QUICK TIPS

 

How you can improve your rentals

 

·  The flat should be in move-in condition, with a fully fitted kitchen, washing machine and television set. Air-conditioning will be a plus.

 

·  Keep the flat simply decorated. Do give it a fresh coat of paint if it needs one.

 

·  Flats with interiors that resemble a condominium’ s can fetch more. A three-room flat near Tanjong Pagar MRT station was rented out at $2,600 a month after the owner spent $40,000 to renovate it.

 

‘When you walk into the flat, it feels like a condo,’ says agent Germaine Ng.

 

Source: Agents

 

 

 

What you need to know as a landlord

 

·  While you can rent your flat to several people, there is a limit you must observe.

 

HDB allows a maximum of four occupiers in one- and two-room flats, six in three-room flats and eight in four-room or bigger flats.

 

·  Make sure your sub-tenants do not further sub-let the flat, which is not allowed.

 

·  If you rent your flats to foreigners, make sure they entered Singapore lawfully and are remaining here lawfully. Otherwise, you might be guilty of harbouring immigration offenders.

 

Source: Straits Times

Turn Capitol area into Mice venues

Turn Capitol area into Mice venues

 

The article, ‘Wanted: New ‘director’ for Capitol Theatre’ (The Sunday Times, April27), prompted me to write this letter.

 

Singapore has sufficient performance venues and museums. The Capitol Theatre and its surroundings would be put to better use as hotels, serviced apartments and Mice – or meetings, incentive travel, conventions and exhibitions – venues.

 

Serviced apartments would be patronised not just by visitors, but also visiting lecturers to the Singapore Management University next door.

 

The theatre, with its high ceiling, could be converted into a hotel ballroom, function room or exhibition hall.

 

These would be more attractive to potential investors.

 

N. Senthilkumaran

 

Source: Straits Times