Singapore Budget 2015: More public rental flat applicants used to own their homes

SINGAPORE - More public rental flat applicants today used to be homeowners, Minister of State for National Development Mohamad Maliki Osman told Parliament on Wednesday, adding that the ministry will help more public rental tenants become homeowners.

Some 59 per cent of public rental applicants today used to own flats, up from 52 per cent five years ago, Dr Maliki said during the debate on his ministry's budget.

Describing this as a "worrisome trend", he pointed out that some of these tenants face a steeper climb towards homeownership as they no longer qualify for subsidies, which were already used when they bought their previous flats.

He added that as they are likely to be older, they also face problems getting sufficient housing loans, and many have children who are financially dependent on them.

As such, his ministry intends to do more to help these rental tenants own homes that they can hold on to, said Dr Maliki.

"We will work out a more inclusive and compassionate approach, with greater incentive for self-reliance, and stronger community support," he said.

He also urged homeowners to protect their homes and resist the urge to sell these nest eggs.

Said Dr Maliki: "With better outreach and community engagement, we hope homeowners will make informed choices and not be easily taken in by the promise of short-term gains without realising the serious long-term implications."

There are about 51,000 rental flats in Singapore, or about 5 per cent of the total stock of 960,000 Housing Board units. Rentals for these one- and two-room flats start at $26 and $44 a month respectively, with each tenancy lasting for two years.

yeosamjo@sph.com.sg