Allow private home owners to buy HDB flats to live in

The announcement about 880,000 households that will receive $120 million worth of rebates for service and conservancy charges (S&CC) brings to mind an existing Housing Board policy that seems rather inequitable (880,000 HDB households to benefit from S&CC rebates; last Friday).

HDB flat owners are allowed to purchase private property, but private home owners are not allowed to buy HDB flats.

Instead, they have to dispose of their private property should they wish to buy a HDB resale flat.

The rule is unfair because many HDB flat owners have been able to buy private properties for investment instead of using them as a primary residence.

A private property caveat search will reveal that studios and one-bedroom apartments make up many of these purchases.

Given the size limitations, it is unlikely that the buyers will be moving in to live in their new private homes.

Such HDB flat owners are certainly not lacking in financial resources.

They are not only asset-rich but also cash-rich, while many private property owners may be asset-rich but cash-poor.

Also, those who live in private properties are excluded from many government schemes that help defray costs, including S&CC rebates and various upgrading schemes that enhance the value of HDB estates and individual flats.

These are all funded by taxpayers.

Is it not time to level the playing field by allowing private property owners to buy HDB flats to live in, and allowing them to keep their property as an investment that will generate passive income?

Many HDB flat owners are already doing this.

Lee Heng San

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2017, with the headline 'Allow private home owners to buy HDB flats to live in'. Print Edition | Subscribe