Most of Geylang Lor 3 owner-occupied households qualify for HDB homes: SLA

Residents living in Geylang Lorong 3 were asked to leave and hand back the vacated units by December 2020. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - At least one in five households living in private terrace houses at Geylang Lorong 3, whose 60-year leases expire at the end of 2020, have qualified for Housing Board flats, said the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) on Tuesday.

Of the 191 affected units, 39 are still occupied by the owners or their family members today.

Of these, the vast majority - 35 - have met with SLA officers and qualified for public housing after having their circumstances assessed by SLA and HDB.

Among the remaining four, two have already made relocation plans, said the SLA. Two are still considering their options.

Geylang Lorong 3 is the first batch of residential properties in Singapore which will return to the State when the lease runs out, with no extensions allowed. Owners were informed four months ago they have to vacate by Dec 31, 2020, with no compensation.

In an update yesterday, the SLA said one owner has successfully applied for a Build-To-Order (BTO) two-room flexi flat. Three other households have applied for flats in a Re-offer of Balance Flats exercise, which are still being processed by HDB.

While some owners have asked about the possibility of lease renewal, the authority has said as a general policy, land will return to the State upon lease expiry. It added in the statement on Tuesday that SLA will continue to guide owners through the lease expiry process.

Many of the affected owners are the elderly who have lived there since the estate was built in 1960. The houses were built by the Government as replacement homes when the residents' kampung burned down in a fire. Many told The Straits Times previously that they were unaware of the implications of their lease running out.

The remaining units consist of temple operators or are rented out to foreign workers when the original owners moved out.

Since June, SLA officers assigned to each of the 191 households have gone door-to-door to meet the occupants and also sent letters. The authority has also scheduled engagement sessions. A total of 104 have either contacted SLA or attended the engagement sessions.

The 2ha plot of land, located about 900m from Kallang MRT, is slated for new public housing development as part of a larger plan to rejuvenate Kallang.

Madam Lee Siew Tee, 63, a cleaner, is the owner who has gotten a BTO flat, in Sengkang.

"It's good that the authorities have helped us, to make the process (of getting a new flat) simpler and faster," said Madam Lee, who has lived with her mother in Geylang for more than 50 years. Her daughter said they are paying over $80,000 for the flat.

Another long-time resident, crane operator Keh Hock Seng, 63, said that he has been offered the option to buy a flat, but would prefer to look for a rental flat as he has no children.

"I would prefer to save up the money for my retirement," said the divorcee.

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