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Disallow subletting of HDB flats

In her commentary ("Don't count on making big bucks from your home"; last Sunday), Opinion editor Chua Mui Hoong talked about the leftward shift in social policies, of which a property should be an instrument for social good rather than as an investment tool.

In the light of this, and given recent comments by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong about mitigating the "lottery effect" of new downtown flats to make public housing more equitable, it is time for the Government to review the policy of allowing owners of HDB flats to sublet their units.

As mentioned by Ms Chua, "every property player knows an HDB flat has the best rental yield".

Currently, after fulfilling the minimum occupation period, owners of HDB flats are allowed to buy private property and sublet their HDB flats. In allowing this, the Government is indirectly subsidising such owners to profit from the system, and this contradicts the fundamental principle of HDB flats being solely for owner-occupation.

The Government should instead channel the demand for rental apartments towards the private property market.

A few years ago, the Government made the right move to prohibit permanent residents from subletting their entire HDB flats. This should be extended to all HDB owners as well if HDB flats are instruments for social good.

Lee Yong Se

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 30, 2016, with the headline 'Disallow subletting of HDB flats'. Print Edition | Subscribe