HDB flats meant for living in

Housing Board flats are heavily subsidised and are meant for us to live in, not to conduct business (Set aside HDB blocks for home offices, by Mr Pang Meng Hock; April 26).

If a few HDB blocks are designated for small office, home office (Soho) use, the area will eventually lookmore like a commercial estate than a residential one.

The HDB's Home Office Scheme is different. It allows owners to operate a small business out of their residential premises provided they do not cause any disturbance or inconvenience to the surrounding area and residents.

If we have Soho blocks, how are we to ensure that the businesses do not adversely affect the residential environment and the neighbouring blocks?

A fully home-based office may create problems such as noise, smoke, odour, litter, clutter, and chemical and liquid waste.

Also, external advertising or business signboards on the flats, doors and windows would be an eyesore.

Excessive human and vehicular traffic may pose a hazard to the elderly, children and the disabled.

There will likely be complaints from neighbours, which will create unnecessary work for the HDB, and consume resources in handling them.

Banks may consider HDB Soho units as offices, and use commercial loan terms and interest rates. It is neither justifiable for the HDB to offer preferential interest loans for such units, nor is it wise to use Central Provident Fund money or grants.

The fact is, a Soho unit will be treated as a commercial one, regardless of whether it is an HDB unit or private property.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2017, with the headline 'HDB flats meant for living in'. Print Edition | Subscribe