Photo: Listing on PropertyGuru

SINGAPORE — Two months ago, netizens uncovered a 5-room Yishun Build-To-Order(BTO) flat left vacant and unrenovated for eight years, with its toilet bowl still wrapped in plastic, up for sale at a price S$690,000 on a property website.

Minister of National Development Desmond Lee later stressed that a BTO flat must be owner-occupied for the full MOP period, or else the owner needs to return it to the Housing and Development Board (HDB).

However, netizens on social media Reddit flagged another supposedly “vacant” flat in Teban Gardens that has been listed for sale on Property Guru website recently, and called HDB to investigate.

The listing showed that the HDB flat, located in Block 23 Teban Gardens Road, was completed in 2012, which means it is already an 11-year-old property.

The 3-room flat is located on a high floor, selling at a price of S$500,000.

The description wrote:

Rare High Floor 3 Room Hdb with Sea View for sale at Teban Gardens Road! Genuine seller, priced to sell!

No extensions required, able to move in early! Bright and breezy unit! Squarish and efficient layout!

No wasted space! Kitchen will require doing up! House is currently vacant, so viewings are flexible! Facing Pandan reservoir! No renovated unit.

Another video posted on Youtube showed that not only was the flat empty without any furniture, but it seemed still in brand-new condition, as though it was just completed recently:

Property agent says homeowner had passed away “long ago”

While the video shows the presence of some basic utilities like wall outlets, ceiling lights, and shower heads, it appears that the kitchen sink has not been installed yet, and there are no fans or air conditioning units in the entire unit.

There are also no visible curtain rods in the video, in which it is common for occupied flat owners to hang curtains to block out sunlight.

The listings claimed that the house was owned by a “genius seller” and “currently vacant, so viewings are flexible,” further mentioning that the flat is “no renovated unit”.

But according to AsiaOne, the property agent told the media that the homeowner had passed away “long ago”.

Some Reddit users had called Minister Desmond Lee to take action on the selling of “vacant” flats:

A user with the account name “Antique-Flight-5358” suggested that the Housing and Development Board (HDB) should inspect these units, with a specific suggestion to check the electricity meters as a way to determine if the flats are occupied or not.

Since several “vacant” BTO flats listed for on property portals were exposed by netizens, HDB had since investigating these cases.

HDB said between 2017 and November 2022, 53 errant flat owners who did not live in their HDB flats during the MOP were taken to task. Of these, 21 owners had their flats compulsorily acquired by the HDB, while the rest were issued with fines or warnings.

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