3: Helping second-timers who are rental tenants to buy flat

HDB flats in the Bishan estate (foreground) and Toa Payoh estate (background).
HDB flats in the Bishan estate (foreground) and Toa Payoh estate (background). ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Parliament debated the budgets of the ministries of Finance, Communications and Information, and National Development yesterday. These are three highlights.

Under a new scheme, families who previously owned a Housing Board flat but are now public rental tenants can get help to buy a new flat - but face conditions such as having to stay employed.

They also have to live in their new home for 20 years before they can sell it, compared to the usual five. But they will be hand-held through this home ownership journey, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said yesterday when he gave details of the Fresh Start Housing Scheme.

To start later this year, the scheme is for families renting public flats and with children aged below 16, said Mr Wong. The move is to give the children a stable home environment, he added.

Eligible families can buy a new two-room Flexi HDB flat, with a lease of 45 to 65 years.

The families can get an HDB concessionary loan regardless of how many such loans they have taken before. They will also get a Fresh Start Housing Grant of up to $35,000, pro-rated to the length of the lease.

To help them stay committed to owning a home, the HDB will work with the Ministry of Social and Family Development to check on them annually.

Mr Wong also promised to continue lowering Build-to-Order application rates for singles.

He also outlined his ministry's plans to transform the urban landscape, including making Singapore a more car-lite city.

Developers will soon have to take into account the needs of pedestrians and cyclists in building plans. Six new cycling routes from housing estates to the city will be built.

Additionally, all 16 town councils will soon work with the Government's Municipal Services Office to coordinate their response to issues in HDB estates.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2016, with the headline 'Helping second-timers who are rental tenants to buy flat'. Print Edition | Subscribe