Let rental fees paid by couples go towards BTO deposit

BTO applicants be allowed to rent suitable flats from the Housing Board so that marriage and children need not be delayed.
BTO applicants be allowed to rent suitable flats from the Housing Board so that marriage and children need not be delayed.PHOTO: ST FILE

I was perturbed to learn from couples in their late 20s to 30s that they are postponing marriage until their Build-To-Order (BTO) flats are available, in three to four years.

When asked why they don't just rent a place and get married now, the immediate response was that it costs too much and is money flushed down the drain.

I propose therefore that BTO applicants be allowed to rent suitable flats from the Housing Board so that marriage and children need not be delayed.

Crucially, the rent that they pay to HDB, minus a reasonable percentage for wear and tear, should be counted towards the deposit on their BTO flat.

Since HDB is the recipient of all these proceeds, this rent can be treated as a kind of "rent credit".

In the United Kingdom, tenants in social housing are eligible for a huge discount in "right-to-buy" schemes: Rent paid over three or more years of tenancy is considered a payment towards final purchase.

Given our pro-family approach, I urge the Government to adopt a "right-to-rent" policy for BTO couple applicants who are ready to wed and start a family.

Take it from me, having a first baby when you are nearly 40 is not ideal.

Lee Siew Peng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2019, with the headline 'Let rental fees paid by couples go towards BTO deposit'. Print Edition | Subscribe