Thursday, Jul 12, 2012
Flat owners who are permanent residents (PRs) will now have to meet more stringent conditions if they want to sublet their flats.

With effect from yesterday, they will be able to sublet their flats only if they have not done so before.

This is on top of the Housing Board's (HDB's) existing requirement that they have to occupy the flat for a minimum period of five years.

HDB said in a statement yesterday that PRs can sublet their flats for only a one-year period, after which they would have to apply for an extension. But the application would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Approval will be granted only if there are "extenuating reasons", said HDB. The total period of subletting during the owners' entire flat ownership cannot exceed five years as well.

Previously, the subletting conditions for PRs were the same as those for Singapore citizens - they had been allowed to sublet their flat for up to three years per application, and there had been no cap on the number of renewals or the total period allowed for subletting.

The subletting conditions for Singaporeans remain unchanged.

On the changes, HDB said: "The revised rules are to reinforce the policy intent of providing HDB flats as homes to PRs, and to deter those who are buying the flats for rental yield or investment."

HDB added that while it allows PR owners who have met the minimum occupation period to sublet their flat, "the subletting should be on a temporary basis".

It added: "If the PR families no longer need the flat for their own occupation, they should sell the flat instead of subletting it."

HDB said that as of April, 2,142 PR flat owners are legally subletting their flats. They form about 5 per cent of the total approved subletting applications.

A total of 56 owners were taken to task last year for unauthorized subletting. Most were fined, while 18 had their flats taken away.

Property analysts told my paper it is unlikely that the stricter conditions for PRs were a result of higher rates of illegal subletting among them.

Mr Lee Sze Teck, a senior manager at Dennis Wee Group, said that the changes could be due to last year's General Election, "when sentiments on the ground reflected that there should be clearer distinction between citizens and PRs".

Rental prices might go up initially, with fewer rental flats in the market because PR flat owners face tighter rental conditions, said Mr Mark Teo, executive group division director with ERA Realty Network.

But he added that government policies that have tightened immigration and restricted who can rent flats will help reduce demand for rental flats.

Info Courtesy – My paper & Asia one