Clarity on HDB leases needed for retirement planning

While I accept that extending the leases of older HDB flats is a complex issue, I do not agree with National Development Minister Lawrence Wong that it is not an immediate issue (Lease extension a complex issue, says Lawrence Wong; May 18).

Considering that over 80 per cent of our population resides in HDB flats, with about 90 per cent of them being home owners, any ruling on flats' remaining leases will have an immense impact.

For many, their HDB flat may be their only asset.

Around 7 per cent of HDB flats here are more than 40 years old. Owners who wish to sell them will face a lack of buyers, thereby turning the flat into a locked-in asset.

Even if there is a lease buyback scheme, will it apply to everyone and what will the rate be?

Such factors need to be considered for retirement planning, especially on account of our ageing population.

The stakes are higher for children who wish to live close to their parents. Such families may get stranded with two properties in the same mature estate which they are unable to cash out during emergencies.

If there are no directions, such as which precincts are designated for the Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme, or guidelines for allowing lease extensions, residents are unable to make informed decisions which have serious repercussions.

A clear decision needs to be made that is optimal for residents and the property market.

Cindy Tan (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 22, 2018, with the headline 'Clarity on HDB leases needed for retirement planning'. Print Edition | Subscribe