Turn old public flats into useful assets

There has been much talk of late of the depreciating value of older Housing Board flats, in particular, those more than 40 years old (Owners worry older HDB flats a depreciating asset; April 15).

It has been reported that by 2030, more than 400,000 HDB flats would be over 40 years old and that many of these old flats could become "unsaleable" down the road.

Last year, the Government had rightly warned that not all old flats would be eligible for the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme.

While it is not the Government's duty to prevent the depreciation of these old public flats, the problem of these owners cannot be ignored.

The Government needs to come up with new initiatives and rules to deal with it.

One option would be for the Government to buy up public flats that reach the "unsaleable" stage, and convert them into rental flats or hostels.

With a continuous influx of immigrants, foreign workers and students, demand for rental flats will keep on growing.

Some of these flats could also be converted into homes for the aged, or activity centres for old and young citizens, or small shops or offices. Residents must be willing to accept a more mixed-use environment.

The private sector could be invited to participate in such schemes. Many of these old flats could then be converted into useful assets.

Albert Ng Ya Ken

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 22, 2018, with the headline 'Turn old public flats into useful assets'. Print Edition | Subscribe