HDB rental flats are only for those with no viable housing options or family support

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In responding to a parliamentary question of what is the demographic and socio-economic profile of HDB rental flat applicants, the Minister for National Development said that HDB’s public rental flats cater to households with no viable housing options or family support.

The Minister for National Development was responding to a question by Member of Parliament Zainal Sarpari who had asked:

  • what is the total number applications for HDB rental flats in the last two years;
  • what is the demographic and socio-economic profile of these applicants;
  • what is the percentage of rental flat applicants who have owned a HDB flat before;
  • what are the reasons why applications are not successful;
  • what are the usual circumstances that lead to the applicant needing rental housing; and
  • what housing options are available when family support is not forthcoming for the applicants in terms of alternative accommodation.

The Minister in answering the question in Parliament said that in the last 2 years, an average of about 7,300 households requested for rental flats each year,

He added that although they should meet the criteria of having no viable housing options or family support, the demographic and socio-economic profile of these households is varied.

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According to the data provided by the Ministry of National Development, 90 per cent of such households with no viable housing options or family support had a household income of $1,500 or less. About 40% these applicants were divorced or widowed, and a similar proportion were married.

Applicants cited various reasons for needing rental housing, such as the inability to afford a flat after divorce or due to loss of employment or medical issues. Close to half of the households in public rental have owned an HDB flat before. And the most common reasons for unsuccessful applications include having sufficient budget to buy a flat, not meeting the citizenship requirement, or having family support for alternative accommodation.

viable housing options
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The Minister said that in cases where there are viable housing options or family support, but such help is not forthcoming, HDB will refer them to a Family Service Centre for mediation or counselling assistance.

He added that if mediation is unsuccessful, and the applicants cannot afford to buy a flat, HDB will be prepared to offer an interim rental or a public rental flat.

In responding to Member of Parliament Joan Pereira’s question of whether the National Development Ministry will consider allowing grandparents and grandchildren to be considered as part of a family nucleus when renting a HDB flat under the Public Rental Scheme, the Minister responded that HDB assesses all requests for a public rental flat on a needs basis.

He added that for households that do not meet the eligibility criteria, such as grandparents requesting to rent with their grandchildren, HDB will look into their individual circumstances and assist them with rental housing if they are unable to buy a flat, and have no viable housing options or family support.

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Flats under the Public Rental Scheme are heavily subsidised to cater to Singapore Citizen (SC) households who have no other housing options. As the number of rental flats under this scheme is limited, you must fulfil certain eligibility criteria to apply for a rental flat.

You can rent a flat under the Public Rental Scheme as a family or a single. If you want to rent a HDB flat under the family scheme, you must fit the following criteria:

  • You must be a SC
  • You must include at least another SC or a Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) in your basic family nucleus.
  • Your family nucleus must comprise any of the following:
    – You and your spouse
    – If single, you and your parents
    – If widowed/ divorced*, you and your children under your legal custody (care and control)
    – Fiancé and fiancée
    – If orphaned, you and your siblings (at least 1 parent was an SC or SPR)

*If the care and control of your children under the age of 21 is shared with your ex-spouse, you must obtain his/her written agreement before you can list your children in a flat application.

Under the Joint Singles Scheme, you can apply for a HDB Rental flat if you meet the following criteria:

  • You and your listed occupier must be SCs
  • Both of you must be single
  • Any of the following are considered as singles:
    – Unmarried and at least 35 years old
    – Divorced or legally separated from spouse, with legal documents, and at least 35-years-old
    – Widowed or orphaned (at least 1 parent was an SC or SPR)

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