HDB clarifies stand on priority scheme withdrawals

Those who apply for Housing Board flats under a priority scheme but later back out of it, will have their cases reviewed.

This is to determine if the applicants can keep their queue number even without the priority scheme, which enhances their chances, the Housing Board said yesterday .

It was replying to queries from The Straits Times regarding an online post about a couple who allegedly got ahead in the queue for a flat by exploiting a loophole.

"Should applicants withdraw from a priority scheme... after balloting has been completed, HDB will check the ballot results to determine if they can still maintain their queue number without the priority scheme," the Housing Board said.

It added that there are three outcomes - the first is that the applicant is removed from the queue and not allowed to select a flat; the second is that he gets a bigger queue number to select a flat at a later date.

The third is that he retains the queue number, as "he would still have been randomly shortlisted without any priority, and (can) proceed to select a flat". The last scenario may be rare, but still possible, "due to the nature of balloting that involves random chances", the Housing Board said yesterday.

A post on the All Singapore Stuff website had flagged a Monday blog entry by Ms Heydi Lee, who said she and her fiance, Mr Seah Kah Wee, had kept their ballot number of 91 for their application for a five-room flat in Tampines even after they had pulled out of the Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS).

They had applied for a flat in the May sales launch under the scheme to live near Mr Seah's parents. There were 1,170 applicants for 447 five-room units in the project. The blog has been deleted, and Ms Lee did not respond to messages.

The MCPS encourages married children and parents to reside together, or in the same or neighbouring estates. For BTO (Build-To-Order) exercises, 30 per cent of the flat supply is set aside for first-timer applicants under this scheme.

But the Housing Board clarified that the priority scheme does not guarantee a favourable queue position or a queue position ahead of non-MCPS applicants. It stressed that although most applicants will likely see an increase in their queue number after withdrawing from a priority scheme, "a small group of applicants might still maintain their queue numbers".

"This entire balloting process is audited to ensure it remains robust and fair to all applicants applying for a flat," it added.

But Ms Evonne Ouyang, 25, a recruiter who has applied for three BTO projects without getting a good queue number, said the balloting process needs more transparency. Others like Ms Genevieve Liao, 26, a teacher, was happy with the Housing Board's explanation: "It doesn't seem like a problem now, if it is by chance that the couple get the same number even without the priority scheme."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2015, with the headline 'HDB clarifies stand on priority scheme withdrawals'. Print Edition | Subscribe