43,000 rental flats – but they are for the genuinely poor

43,000 rental flats – but they are for the genuinely poor

 

The Housing Board says it guards its 43,000 rental units judiciously, reserving them for the genuinely poor who need a roof over their heads. In its reply to The Sunday Times, it reiterated this point: ‘HDB rental units are limited and reserved only for families who have no housing options.’

 

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.

 

Families whose monthly household incomes are $1,500 or less can apply for rental housing. However, they must wait for 30 months after selling their flats before being eligible for subsidised rental homes.

 

During this year’s Budget debate in March, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan highlighted cases where applicants who were hoping to take advantage of subsidised rentals drove up demand for rental flats.

 

Last year, more than half of those who applied for rental units were former home owners who did not owe the HDB any money when they sold their flats.

 

The HDB advises those planning to sell their flats to first find a place to stay before they proceed with the sale.

 

It said: ‘HDB has encountered flat owners who sell their flats, then turn to HDB to apply for a subsidised rental flat. Some even harbour the notion that they are more deserving than those already in the queue for a rental flat and demand one immediately.’

 

The HDB cited the case of a couple who sold a four-room resale flat in February this year and received about $126,000 after paying off their bank loan. They had sold off two other flats before, both at profit as well.

 

After the latest sale, the couple sought to buy a resale three-room flat valued at $158,000. When it came to paying the 5 per cent cash payment of $7,800, the couple claimed they were unable to pay and appealed to be allowed to pay the amount in instalments.

 

The request was turned down as the 5 per cent cash payment had to be handed over to the seller if the deal were to go ahead.

 

The sale fell through and the husband appealed to rent a flat instead, even though the couple’s monthly household income of $2,300 exceeded the income ceiling for HDB flat rental.

 

HDB said: ‘Flat owners should not sell their flats with the expectation of obtaining a subsidised rental flat.

 

‘If they are not buying another home, they have to make their own alternative housing arrangement before selling their existing flat, with family members as their first line of support.’

 

Since January last year, all buyers need to obtain an HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter before they can buy a unit. The HLE maps out the loan available to them, the repayment scheme and the monthly instalments.

 

The HDB advised that families should also factor in the repayment of any outstanding loans on properties they are selling.

                                  

Source: Straits Times

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