About 3,500 rental tenants bought their first HDB flats over past six years

Mohammad Suhaimi Junaini with his wife and two daughters in their three-room flat in Jurong West. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - For five years, delivery driver Mohammad Suhaimi Junaini, his wife and their two daughters aged six and two called a rental flat in Telok Blangah home.

Last September, the 32-year-old and his family moved to a three-room flat in Jurong West.

Mr Suhaimi, who is the family's sole breadwinner and earns $1,300 a month, had applied for the $200,000 flat in November 2017 as he felt it was better to buy a house than pay $250 in rent every month. It would also "provide the family with security" should anything unforeseen happen to him, he said.

He had received $70,000 in housing grants, and a $100,000 loan from HDB to buy the flat.

His family is one of the 3,500 rental flat tenants who bought a flat in the Build-to-Order (BTO) or Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) sales exercises over the past six years from 2013 to 2018, said the Housing Board on Sunday (Feb 10).

Of these 3,500, about 2,000 tenants have collected their keys and moved into their new flats, said HDB.

It added that about 600 rental tenants become home owners each year on average.

The Housing Board also provided a breakdown of the 3,500 rental tenants who became first-time buyers.

Three in four of them bought either a two-room flexi or three-room flat, with 47 per cent buying three-room flats and about 28 per cent choosing two-room flexi flats. The rest bought flats of other sizes.

About 72 per cent of the group bought a flat with the help of the Additional CPF Housing Grant and/or the Special Housing Grant, said HDB.

First-timer families who meet the eligibility criteria and buy a flat from HDB can receive up to a maximum of $80,000 of housing grants, comprising the Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) of up to $40,000, and the Special CPF Housing Grant of up to $40,000.

The HDB added that about 20 per cent booked a flat under the Tenants' Priority Scheme.

Under this scheme, HDB sets aside 10 per cent of the flat supply in sales exercises for eligible public rental tenants, as well as for other applicants whose flats are affected by the Government's resettlement or redevelopment programmes.

Meanwhile, rental tenants who opt for a resale flat can receive up to $110,000 in housing grants. This comprises the CPF Housing Grant of up to $50,000, AHG and the Proximity Housing Grant of up to $20,000.

National University of Singapore sociologist Tan Ern Ser noted that the Government has been giving housing grants to enable rental tenants to eventually own their own flats.

These grants, when coupled with measures aimed at skills training and helping the adults to secure jobs, along with support for childcare and the children, "could contribute to preventing their being entrenched in rental housing, while enhancing the social mobility chances of both the adults, and especially their children," he said.

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