Rental flats: Full review on the way

ONE tenant of a public rental flat installed a split-airconditioner in her flat, thanks to her children. Another asked for a season car-parking label.

Still other tenants of such heavily-subsidised rental flats – meant as a “final safety net” for the needy with no other options – have been known to sublet their units.

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) will not hesitate to clamp down on such cases and redistribute the flats to more deserving cases in the long waiting queue, said National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan in addressing the keen shortage of rental flats.

He announced a comprehensive review of the Public Rental Scheme to better manage demand, even as the HDB builds more of such flats.

There will be a “more holistic assessment criteria” for applicants, to start with. Mr Mah noted that ex-HDB lessees who had fallen on hard times made up two-thirds of rental flat applicants. Even so, one in five had the money to buy a smaller flat, while many could have stayed with their families.

As for the difficulties of low-income divorcee families, who cannot apply for a rental flat 30 months after the matrimonial home is sold off, Mr Mah said the wider issue of dysfunctional families needs to be studied from a “wider perspective”.

But the Ministry would look into the idea of short-term housing for low-income divorcee families, which now make up more than 20 per cent of those applying for public rental flat. Meanwhile, the HDB will increase the stock of rental flats in the next few years from 42,000 to 50,000. Already, 930 rental units converted from vacant blocks will be ready by this quarter, while work will start this year on another 2,000 which will be ready for allocation from 2011.

Source : Today – 29 Feb 2008

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