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Changes to HDB Lease Buyback Scheme: Higher income ceiling, more cash upfront for owners

Published on Sep 3, 2014 1:00 PM
Higher income ceilings, and more cash upfront for owners are some of the changes that have been made to the HDB Lease Buyback Scheme. -- PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - More elderly Housing Board flat owners will be able to sell part of their lease back to the Government for retirement income. They will also be able to keep more cash upfront and have a choice of how many years to retain.

These changes to the Lease Buyback Scheme were announced on Wednesday, in addition to the scheme's extension from three-room and smaller flats to four-room flats as well. All the changes will take effect from April 2015.

The scheme's monthly household income ceiling is being raised to $10,000 from $3,000 now, letting more households qualify.

Sales proceeds are first used to top up owners' Central Provident Fund Retirement Accounts. But for households with two or more owners, each owner will have to top up their accounts to only half of the age-adjusted minimum sum, down from the current requirement of topping up to the full sum. This will give them the option of keeping more of the sales proceeds in cash, up to the existing cap of $100,000.

They will also be able to choose how many years of lease to retain, depending on their age.

Currently, flat owners keep 30 years of the lease under the scheme. With the changes, those aged 70 and older can keep just 25 years and sell the rest. Those aged 75 and older have the additional option of keeping just 20 years, and those 80 or older can also keep just 15 years. All flat owners eligible for the scheme - that is, those aged 63 and older - will also have the option of keeping 35 years instead.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced during his National Day Rally speech that the scheme would be extended to four-room flats. Such households will receive a $10,000 cash bonus for taking part in the scheme, compared to the current $20,000 bonus for three-room and smaller flats.