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Rents for state-owned homes rise

(SINGAPORE) Now, you too can live like the colonial sahibs of old, as long as you are prepared to make the highest offer for monthly rental in an open bid.

But be warned, rents of homes under the Singapore Land Authority’s (SLA) first bidding exercise held recently, increased by between 40 to 230 per cent over previous rents.

Before the open bidding system, the allocation of homes was done through a balloting exercise or on a first-come-first-serve basis.

But in October and November, SLA piloted the new open bidding system of allocating homes to make the process fairer and more transparent with five homes awarded so far. One of these, a bungalow on a 2,687 sq m site at King Albert Park, also set a new benchmark rent of $23,222 a month for a state-owned residential property.

On the new system, SLA deputy director of land lease private Teo Cher Hian said: ‘This way, market forces decide the rental that can be fetched for the state properties.’

The new system appears to be popular with 84 bids received for the first five properties. Of these bidders, 64.3 per cent were locals, with companies and foreigners making up 22.6 per cent and 13.1 per cent of the bids respectively.

Mr Teo also said that many of the bids were higher than the guide rents set by SLA.

Although the widely held perception is that these state-owned properties are cheap to rent, SLA says that guide rents are determined by an independent valuer based on the size, condition, location and proposed tenure of each property.

The properties are also let in their existing condition, usually unfurnished with rents starting as low as $400 per month for a small flat. Enhancement of these properties is also not a primary objective as some of these units sit on sites that could eventually be redeveloped.

SLA has a total stock of 2,360 homes comprising landed and non-landed properties, representing about 19 per cent of the total estimated gross floor area of state properties it manages.

SLA’s rental homes have an occupancy rate of about 91 per cent. But existing tenants are usually allowed to directly renew their leases although the rents may be increased.

In its last financial year (April 1, 2006 – March 31, 2007) SLA says that its residential rental revenue was $78 million, up 2.6 per cent or $2 million from the previous year. SLA added that rents increased by an average of 5 per cent in this period with the highest increase of 23 per cent recorded for just one property.

Previously, rents for apartments ranged between $400-$3,800. Terrace, semi-detached and bungalow rents ranged between $600-$3,333, $800- $11,500, and $1,100- $23,222 respectively.

But the impact of the new bidding system to SLA’s rental revenue is, however, not likely to show any immediate significant increase, as so few of these properties actually come up for rent. For the first half 2008, SLA expects only about 36 homes to be made available for rent – upon being vacated – with six homes expected in January followed by seven in February and six in March.

Those interested in bidding for these can submit their bids to SLA at a stipulated time and date. The bidding period will be six days. More details will be available on SLA’s website www.spio.sla.gov.sg from Dec 14.

But do take note that for a bid to qualify, the bidder’s average monthly income has to generally be at least three times the monthly rental bid so only those earning over $60,000 a month need bother looking at those grand old black and white bungalows.

 

Source: Business Times 10 Dec 07

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