Quota raised for 2-room flats for singles

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan announced several new housing measures in Parliament on Tuesday (Mar 10). These included increasing the quota of new two-room flats set aside for singles and a review of the Studio Apartment Scheme.

Mr Lim Sio Poh, 46, is getting ready to move into his new two-room flat in Bukit Panjang. He applied for the unit directly from the Housing and Development Board (HDB) – under the singles scheme last year.

Said Mr Lim: “Everyone wants to have a house of their own. It is also a good investment and nearer my workplace.” After receiving S$28,000 in housing subsidies, Mr Lim’s flat costs S$120,000, which he can fully pay for using his CPF.

It took Mr Lim two tries before he secured the unit. Over 18,000 singles have applied for a two-room flat since the singles scheme began in 2013. But only half have had the chance to book a flat.

Mr Lim said: “I felt that a lot of people were applying and my chances were very low. If I wasn’t successful, there is nothing I could do.”

To address the pent-up demand, Mr Khaw said 4,000 two-room flats will be launched this year. The quota for singles will also be raised to 50 per cent, starting from the next Build-to-Order (BTO) exercise in May.

Mr Khaw also announced a review of the Studio Apartment Scheme. The scheme had been introduced in 1998 – to allow seniors a smaller flat option, with a 30-year lease. But with two-room flats also being offered by the HDB now, with a 99-year lease, Mr Khaw said the suggestion to offer varying leases for two-room flats could better align both schemes as well as cater to varying needs.

Mr Khaw also announced that the HDB is studying whether more help can be given to those who want to buy a resale flat near their parents. He noted that there are couples who have earlier moved away from their parents, but would like to move back closer after having children, or when their parents need more care.


Mr Khaw also responded to calls by some Members of Parliament (MPs) to raise or even remove the qualifying income ceiling for new HDB flats.

“We increased it in 2011. I do not think we want to lift the income ceiling completely because HDB flats are heavily subsidised and we should continue to target help at those who need help more. However, as income level rises, we must be prepared to adjust the income ceiling. Anyway, I have noted the MPs’ call and I will mull over it,” he said.

Mr Khaw added that the Government is keen to help Singaporeans living in rental flats become home owners.

One example is Madam Koh Lee Heng and her husband. They had been living in a rental flat since 1982. They recently moved into a brand new two-room flat, which they can finally call their own. Said Madam Koh: “At last we have our own home, we bought it. The other flat we were staying at earlier, we rented it – it is different.”


Mr Khaw said the Government is also looking at how it can help other rental tenants who have exhausted their housing privileges and no longer qualify for grants.

He said: “Many wish they can turn back the clock, undo some of their bad decisions, and be able to provide a better home for their kids. Mr Zainal Sapari offered some suggestions. The question is how we can help such families without creating a moral hazard.

“Can we formulate a scheme which requires the family to make a serious commitment towards their children, for example, and in return we provide a small flat with shorter lease? Dr Maliki Osman has been hand-holding such families in his ward and has helped some graduate into homeowners. It requires intensive counselling and nudging.

“The test is how to ensure that they do not end up losing the third flat and returning to apply for another public rental flat again? This requires careful thinking through.”

Mr Khaw reiterated his ministry’s commitment to not only provide good homes, but also to enable home ownership for Singaporeans.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 10 Mar 2015

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