SINGAPORE - About 1,700 flats were surrendered to the Housing Board over the past five years, including 700 that were given up due to reasons such as break-ups or divorces.
These figures were revealed by Senior Minister of State for National Development Sim Ann in Parliament on Tuesday (March 2), in response to Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC).
Ms Sim said the 700 flats were surrendered to HDB mostly because of changes in their owners' circumstances within their minimum occupation period (MOP).
These changes had made them ineligible to own a HDB flat, but the owners were not allowed to sell their flats on the open market as they had not fulfilled their MOP.
The most common reasons for the surrender of these flats were divorce, break-ups between engaged couples, and the annulment of marriage, she said.
The remaining 1,000 or so of the surrendered flats were flats with short leases, comprising studio apartments, two-room flexi flats bought on a short lease, and flats whose owners had opted for the Lease Buyback Scheme.
Owners of short-lease flats who no longer wish to keep their flats, or who had become ineligible to do so, are required to surrender their flats to the HDB, said Ms Sim. They are not allowed to sell them on the open market.
Of the around 1,700 flats, about half were two-room flats, one-sixth were three-room flats, and one-third were four-room flats or larger.
Ms Sim said HDB compensates flat owners for the surrendered flats, and offers these for sale through the Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises.
"If the flats remain unselected after the SBF exercise, they may then be made available under open booking," she said.
HDB had launched the open booking system in June 2019. It allows home seekers to apply for a flat online, and get their flat selection appointment on a first come, first served basis, which can be as early as the next working day.
The majority of flats offered under the open booking system come from the pool of flats that remain unselected after the twice-yearly SBF exercises.
In response to Mr Gan, Minister of State for National Development Tan Kiat How said a total of 1,521 flats had been booked under the open booking system as at Feb 22.
These comprise 46 two-room flexi flats, 273 three-room flats, 601 four-room flats, 597 five-room or three-generation flats, and four executive flats.
Mr Tan added that HDB has been exploring ways to offer more flats through open booking. For instance, HDB has ceased the Re-Offer of Balance Flats exercises since February last year, so that more of the unselected flats from the SBF exercises can be offered directly for open booking.