Queue numbers of applicants who withdraw from HDB priority schemes will be re-assessed

A post circulating on citizen news site All Singapore Stuff said that a young couple had allegedly bypassed the HDB queue by exploiting a loophole.
A post circulating on citizen news site All Singapore Stuff said that a young couple had allegedly bypassed the HDB queue by exploiting a loophole.PHOTO: SCREENGRABS FROM BLOG POST

SINGAPORE - Applicants for Housing Board (HDB) flats who withdraw from priority schemes that enhance their chances in the ballot will have their cases re-assessed to determine if they can still maintain their queue number without the priority scheme.

While priority schemes enhance the chances of applicants' to secure a flat, it does not assure them of a favourable queue position. It also does not guarantee a queue position ahead of non-Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS) applicants, the Housing Board said in reply to queries from The Straits Times.

"Should applicants withdraw from a priority scheme such as the MCPS 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 added.

It was responding to a post circulating on citizen news site All Singapore Stuff which said that a young couple had allegedly bypassed the HDB queue by exploiting a loophole.

The All Singapore Stuff page provided a link to an Aug 17 Dayre blog post written by a Heydi Lee.

In the post, which has since been taken down, Ms Lee said that she and her fiance, Mr Seah Kah Wee, managed to cancel their application for a five-room flat in Tampines under the MCPS scheme, without change to their ballot number of 91.

The MCPS is a priority scheme that encourages married children and parents to reside together, or in the same or neighbouring estate for mutual care and support. For Build-to-Order exercises, 30 per cent of the flat supply is set aside for first-timer applicants under this scheme.

For Ms Lee's case, she and Mr Seah had applied for a flat in the May 2015 sales launch under the scheme to live near Mr Seah's parents, who live in Tampines. There were 1,170 applicants for some 447 five-room units in the project. The application rate of first-timers applying for the five-room units was 2.0. She did not respond to messages from the paper.

Her post had raised questions among netizens about the fairness of the priority schemes. The person who contributed Ms Lee's blog link to the All Singapore Stuff page noted that it was "extremely unfair for applicants who are unable to use the MCPS scheme to receive a higher chance for their Build-to-Order application".

But HDB noted that although most applicants, "upon the withdrawal from a priority scheme, will likely see an increase in their queue number... a small group of applicants might still maintain their queue numbers".

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

HDB also noted that on Ms Lee and Mr Seah's date of flat selection on Aug 17, they had informed counter staff that they wished to withdraw from the MCPS, and be considered public applicants.

"Our staff ran a check against the ballot results, and verified that they could still be shortlisted without the MCPS, and without a change to their queue number. Such cases are rare, but possible, due to the nature of balloting that involves random chances," HDB said.

audreyt@sph.com.sg