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Rental flats: Review to weed out less needy

As demand rises, 2,200 more HDB rental flats to be made available over next three years

PEOPLE who have sold a property could find themselves barred or placed at the back of the queue for subsidised rental housing as part of a policy review to weed out the less needy.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said yesterday that the Housing Board was getting an increasing number of applications from the elderly, as well as divorcees with kids in tow.

Some of these applicants already own homes but were looking to sell them and move into subsidised rental housing to save money.

Existing rules state that those who sell a property have to wait 30 months before being eligible to rent.

Mr Mah, who was visiting a batch of 180 newly converted rental flats in Woodlands, said these applicants may not be as needy as others in the queue.

‘If you owned a bungalow, you sold it, you wait for 30 months; to be fair to others, you shouldn’t be joining the queue.’

The rental homes are for Singaporeans who ‘really have no other options’.

The minister said that the number of applicants facing such hardship has gone up, but not significantly.

‘For them, we will have rental flats available,’ he said.

The HDB is also assessing cases of couples who have to sell their flats following a divorce and then seek rental housing after they find alternative accommodation too costly.

Rising property prices and rentals islandwide have swelled the ranks of those seeking subsidised rental housing.

There are about 3,000 applicants in the queue and they have to wait for five to 11 months to get a flat – twice as long as a year ago.

Demand is so high that the HDB yesterday scrapped its Daily Selection Scheme. This let applicants pick leftover rental flats for immediate occupation after monthly flat allocation exercises.

It said the ‘high take-up’ of rental flats in the monthly exercises made the daily scheme unnecessary. The HDB, which allocates subsidised flats to families earning no more than $1,500 a month, charges $26 to $205 a month for a one-room rental flat and $44 to $275 a month for two-room flats.

The first batch of 180 flats in Woodlands, which were converted from three- and four-room flats, will be ready for allocation this month.

Another 748 rental flats in Boon Lay will be added to the pool in March, while 290 in Redhill will be ready early next year. Meanwhile, 976 rental flats will be built from scratch in Choa Chu Kang, Sembawang and Yishun and will be ready in 2010.

The new projects will add a total of 2,194 homes to the stock of 42,000 rental one- and two-room flats.

On another note, Mr Mah downplayed talk that many couples were delaying marriage because of rising property prices and the long wait for new subsidised HDB flats.

‘(Getting a flat is) not the reason why people get married, right?’ he asked, pointing out that they could still rent a flat or live with their parents while they wait for their new homes to be built.


Source: The Straits Times 3 Jan 08


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