Focus on HDB (Part 4): HDB rental flats for Singaporeans only

Leong Sze Hian/

I refer to the article “Supply of rental flats to increase” (Today, May 30).

I would like to applaud the Minister for making this bold policy change, despite being just less than three weeks on the job in his new ministry.

With regard to the Minister’s remarks “we need to ramp up the building of rental flats as quickly as we can. Not just by a few thousand, actually we need to build by tens of thousands. And the earlier the
better”, I would like to suggest that the policy of allowing private operators, like EM Services, which is a joint-venture between the HDB and a private listed company, to rent out HDB flats to non-Singaporeans for profit, be reviewed.

Freeze new lease for foreigners

For example, there could be a freeze on new applications for such rentals and no more renewals as and when existing leases expire, so that the 2200 of such SERS (Selective En-bloc Re-Development Scheme)
flats may be rented to needy Singaporeans in the HDB rental queue instead.

Review policies – not just build more?
We could also review the following policies:-

  • The $1,500 household income ceiling, as it does not take into account a household’s financial situation – for example, a very large family, families with disabled or chronically sick members, etc.
  • Lowering the average interim housing scheme’s rent of about $400 for a room rental , which is not very much lower than the open market, considering that only financially stressed familes that are referred by the HDB can qualify for this scheme.
  • The policy change to increase the rental for households earning more than $800 after two years, as a family earning between $800 and $1,500, may already be finding it hard to make ends meet.
  • The policy change to permanently bar those who have sold two HDB flats from renting a HDB flat, as it assumes that one can never be in financial difficulty after selling one’s flat, no matter how long ago.
  • The 30 months waiting period after selling one’s flat, before one can apply for a rental flat, as adding the queuing time after applying may mean a total wait of around four years on the average.

We need statistics

Finally, we should also disclose the following statistics:-

How many foreigners and PRs in total are staying in SERS HDB flats, former JTC, SIT, etc, flats as rental tenants?

How many HDB rental flat tenants have been evicted for failing to pay rents?

How many families have been housed under the Interim Housing Scheme? How many families in the Interim Housing Scheme have been evicted for failing to pay rents?

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