Divorcees who get full custody of all children will no longer be subject to a five-year debarment period when buying a second subsidised flat from HDB.
Neither would they have to get prior consent from their ex-spouse to give up their right to a subsidised flat, announced National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament on Monday.
However, the ex-spouse with no children will still be subjected to the five-year time bar, said Mr Khaw.
Mr Khaw was responding to a question posed by Lee Bee Wah, MP for Nee Soon GRC, who asked if his ministry would consider reviewing regulations that may be obsolete, such as asking divorcees to get a letter of confirmation from their ex-spouse.
Under current rules, a divorcee with children is barred for five years from buying a second subsidised flat from HDB after the matrimonial home is sold.
This policy was put in place to prevent people from gaming the system, said Mr Khaw.
He explained that there have been cases where couples filed for divorce and split custody of the children, so that they could then qualify for two subsidised flats.
Mr Khaw said: “It was an abuse. They were never seriously divorced. They just wanted to take advantage of these two subsidised flats, and they remained married… This was an old case that prompted this policy.”
Hence, the government put in place a rule that only one divorcee is allowed a subsidised flat within the five-year period, provided the other spouse gives up his or her right. But as many MPs had pointed out, it was not easy to get consent from the ex-spouse.
In coming up with the policy change, Mr Khaw said this is to put the interest of the young kids at the uppermost.
He said that HDB will also be reviewing whether the five-year debarment period is too long.
Mr Khaw said removing the time bar will be unwise, but hinted that five years may be too long.
The minister noted that the housing board must balance between deterrence against abuse and minimising hardship on genuine divorcees.
Source : Channel NewsAsia – 5 Mar 2012