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Want to rent this? Make a bid for it

New allocation system for select state-owned homes expected to cut long waiting lists

RENTERS who have long hankered after that state-owned black-and-white colonial bungalow but are put off by the long waiting list can now bid for their dream home.

State landlord Singapore Land Authority (SLA) said it is opening up its properties for bidding to make their allocation more transparent.

Currently, tenants check SLA’s portal http://www.spio.sla.gov.sg for information on available properties and then register their interest with SLA-appointed agents.

There is usually a long waiting list for these properties as demand is high. State properties can be 5 to 50 per cent cheaper than properties in the private market.

Renters have said that getting one is like winning the lottery – a tenant is selected either on a first-come, firstserved basis or through a balloting exercise when a property is released.

Under the new scheme, anyone interested in these properties will be invited to view them during open houses.

They then have up to one week to submit a private bid to the SLA. Bidding will close the following Friday and results will be announced the same day.

The new system will allow these buildings to be secured within a week or so of their being made available.

All in, SLA has 2,360 units available for rent and the occupancy rate is 91 per cent. However, not all of them will come under the bidding scheme.

An SLA spokesman said the new method ‘encourages a fairer allocation process’. The bidding system also allows market forces to decide the value of the properties, ensuring a ‘more accurate market value’.

At least 36 houses in popular locations – ranging from terraced and semi-detached houses to bungalows – will be open for bidding in the first half of next year.

Mr Kevin Barrios, 29, a postgraduate student from the United States due to start work in Singapore, expressed concern that the new procedure will drive up rents. He pays $700 for a one-bedroom apartment in the Portsdown Road area.

But Mr Eric Cheng, executive director of property agency HSR Property Group, said the bidding system is fairer.

He said many of his clients faced months, or even years, of waiting for such properties to become available.

‘If someone really needs a house and is willing to pay for it, it’s fair that he should get it,’ said Mr Cheng.

SLA held a pilot bidding exercise for five of its properties last month and Belgian pilot Bernard Latierre was one of the successful bidders.

The price he paid – $6,550 a month for a semi-detached house in Seletar with a land area of 738 sq m – is reasonable, he said.

He had waited more than eight months for it. ‘It’s near my children’s school, has lush greenery and lovely architecture. We wouldn’t have got to live here if not for this new bidding system,’ he said.

SLA said properties that have a two-year tenure and are in popular locations will be selected for bidding.

Wherever possible, SLA will also allow existing tenants to renew their tenancies directly, provided the rental is adjusted to the market rate.

The SLA manages more than 2,300 residential state properties and has a 91 per cent occupancy rate.

Range of properties:

  • Flat/Apartment – 1,090 units; rental from $400-$3,800

  • Terrace – 340 units; rental from $600-$3,333

  • Semi-detached – 390 units; rental from $800-$11,500

  • Bungalow – 540 units; rental from $1,100-$23,222

Some of their locations:

  • Alexandra Park

  • Seletar Airbase

  • Telok Blangah

  • Scotts Road

  • Malcolm Park

  • Medway Park

  • Goodwood Hill

  • Bukit Timah

  • Woodleigh Park

    Most of the black-and-white bungalows are in Sembawang, Alexandra Park and Adams Park.

    The next list of properties available for rental will be on the SLA portal, http://www.spio.sla.gov.sg, from Dec 14.

    They include a bungalow in Hyderabad Road, three two-room apartments in Clemenceau Avenue North and a two-storey bungalow in Maidstone Road.

Source: The Sunday Times 9 Dec 07

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