Details about subletting HDB flats released

Details about subletting HDB flats released

The Housing & Development Board (HDB) released yesterday details of the subletting quota framework for non-citizens, as part of government efforts to prevent the formation of foreigner enclaves in HDB estates.

Providing a breakdown, HDB said that the number of flats that can be wholly sublet to non-citizens has been capped at 8 per cent at the neighbourhood level and 11 per cent at the block level.

The framework applies to subtenants who are Singapore permanent residents and foreigners. Malaysians are exempt as they are able to better integrate into the estates due to their cultural and historical similarities with Singaporeans.

The HDB also clarified that the quota would not apply to subletting of rooms. This is to reduce the impact on those who rely on subletting for additional income, especially the elderly and low-income households.

Previously, there was no cap on the number of flats sublet to foreign tenants in HDB blocks. According to data released by the HDB in December, more than 35,000 flats, representing less than 4 per cent of all HDB flats, are sublet to foreigners excluding Malaysians. This figure refers to the subletting of the entire HDB flat, and not rooms.

However, the proportion could go up to 9 per cent in some areas or even 18 per cent in some blocks.

The move to cap the number of flats that can be sublet to foreigners in each HDB block follows Member of Parliament Foo Mee Har sharing her concerns about foreigner enclaves forming in HDB estates.

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan, in a blog post last month, also talked about the importance of maintaining the Singaporean character of the heartlands.

The new policy applies to all flat subletting applications with immediate effect. All flat owners who sublet their flats to one or more non-citizens will be subject to the quota.

Flat owners currently subletting their flats with the HDB's approval can continue to do so for the remaining period that was previously approved. Subsequent flat subletting applications will be subject to the new policy.

Flat owners who have obtained approval to sublet their flats to Singaporean or Malaysian subtenants and who wish to include non-citizen subtenants subsequently will be subject to the quota.

The maximum subletting period is three years for Singaporeans and Malaysians, and one and a half years for non-citizens.

A new e-Service is available on the HDB InfoWEB for members of the public to check if a flat can be sublet to non-citizens. The information is updated on the first day of the month and is valid for the whole calendar month.

Source: Business Times – 17 January 2014