Review policy on HDB flat owners buying private property

Allowing HDB flat owners to concurrently own both a flat and private property is akin to subsidising their investment, says the writer. Public funding should not be used, albeit indirectly, to help individuals do this.
Allowing HDB flat owners to concurrently own both a flat and private property is akin to subsidising their investment, says the writer. Public funding should not be used, albeit indirectly, to help individuals do this. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Home ownership has been a key pillar of Singapore's nation building, and subsidised housing provided by the Housing Board is a cornerstone of this strategy.

However, as young home owners progress in their careers and their families grow, many of them will aspire to acquire private property.

When they do so, the benefit from the enhanced value of their subsidised homes will go some way towards helping them buy the property.

In this aspect, subsidised HDB property owners have an advantage over those who own private property.

HDB owners can purchase a private property and continue to hold on to their flat.

But private property owners who purchase an HDB unit are required to dispose of their private property within a set time limit.

It is difficult to understand the rationale for the difference in treatment.

It is understandable for buyers of HDB flats to receive housing subsidies to own their homes.

But to allow HDB flat owners to concurrently own both a flat and private property is more akin to subsidising their investment.

Investing is not a basic need and public funding should not be deployed, albeit indirectly, to help individuals do this.

Furthermore, in concurrently owning two properties, such property owners are inflating the demand for residential property.

I urge the HDB and other related government agencies to review the policy of allowing HDB flat owners to own a second property.

If dual ownership is allowed to continue, then I hope the policy will be fair and allow all citizens to own both private and HDB properties, regardless of which one they bought first.

Philip Toh Kee Poon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2016, with the headline 'Review policy on HDB flat owners buying private property'. Print Edition | Subscribe