Enhanced Lease Buyback Scheme draws more applicants after April changes

Interest in the Lease Buyback Scheme surged when more households became eligible in April, with 450 applications in April and May, the Housing Board said on Friday. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Interest in the Lease Buyback Scheme surged when more households became eligible in April, with 450 applications in April and May, the Housing Board said on Friday. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Interest in the Lease Buyback Scheme surged when more households became eligible in April, with 450 applications in April and May, the Housing Board said on Friday (June 12).

This total makes up more than half of the existing 965 households on the scheme, which allows older HDB flat owners to sell part of their lease back to the Government for retirement income.

Of the new applications, 214 are owners of four-room flats, who were previously not eligible. The rest own three-room or smaller flats.

"They must have found the new LBS more attractive now," National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in a Friday blog post.

Extending the scheme to four-roomers was one of the changes made in April, along with raising the income ceiling from $3,000 to $10,000, offering flexibility in the length of lease to be sold back, and allowing households with two or more owners to get more of the proceeds in cash up front and less in Central Provident Fund top-ups.

Of the new applicants, 32 became eligible after the income ceiling was raised. Half of all new applicants had households with two or more owners, and will now receive more cash up front.

Separately, Mr Khaw added that the HDB is reviewing its studio apartment and two-room flat schemes "to address the frequent public feedback on the differences between them".

"Both flat types are identical in physical size but offer different terms to suit different clientele. We will see if the schemes can be restructured while continuing to serve our residents' needs," he said.

Previously, in the 2015 Budget debate, he indicated that both schemes might be combined. He said: "For example, if we have a new 2R flat scheme, offering varying lease tenure and lease terms, it may allow us to cater to different groups with varying needs, and unify both schemes. The Ministry of National Development and HDB are working on this and will also gather inputs from the public."

janiceh@sph.com.sg