• Do I own my HDB flat, which has a lease of 99 years?

    Yes, you do. Buyers of leasehold properties own the property for the length of the lease they hold.

    Similarly, HDB flat buyers own their flats for the length of the lease.

    What ownership rights and benefits do I have as a flat buyer?

    As the owner of your flat, you can decide to live in it, rent out a room for income or even sell it and keep the proceeds. You also enjoy the long-term security that comes with owning a home. In your retirement years, you can also monetise your flat through various schemes such as the Lease Buyback Scheme. Under this scheme, you can sell part of your flat’s lease back to HDB and receive a stream of income, while continuing to live in it. These are rights and benefits that only a flat owner can enjoy.

    How different is it from renting the flat from HDB?

    The ownership rights to your flat that you enjoy are different from tenants who rent a flat.

    • Tenants need to pay rent throughout their stay, which may be revised from time to time based on market conditions
    • Tenants have no right to sell their tenancy, and they do not benefit from the flat’s long-term value
    • Tenants do not have the same measure of stability, as they need to look for alternative accommodation whenever the tenancy period is up or terminated early

    If HDB flat buyers are owners, why are there guidelines imposed on us?

    You may wonder why HDB owners need to meet a Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) of 5 years before they can sell their flats, or why owners need HDB’s approval to rent out their flat and follow certain rental guidelines.

    HDB flats are meant primarily to serve as a home for Singaporeans and are not intended as speculative investments. New HDB flats are sold at subsidised prices, making them more affordable than comparable property in the vicinity. Flat buyers also enjoy benefits such as access to housing grants and subsidised upgrading programmes that improve their living environment.  Hence, rules such as the MOP are necessary to preserve the intent of HDB flats for owner-occupation, and deter speculation, so that our flats remain affordable and accessible for Singaporeans. The rules for renting out flats are also necessary to minimise disamenities caused by overcrowding, and to maintain a conducive living environment in our public housing estates.

    Why does Singapore adopt a leasehold system for public housing?

    In land-scarce Singapore, strategic and long-term urban planning is crucial for improving the quality of life of all Singaporeans. The leasehold system allows the land to be recycled and redeveloped to meet the housing needs of future generations of Singaporeans.

    Besides public housing, the leasehold system is also common in the private property market and buyers of a 99-year private property similarly own the rights to their property for the duration of their lease.

    Other than Singapore, the leasehold system is also adopted by many places around the world, such as Australia and Hong Kong SAR. 

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