'No' to proposed changes on small flats

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday turned down two suggested changes to the studio apartment and two-room- flat housing schemes, even as a plan to merge them is in the works.

The upcoming Two-room Flexi scheme offers flats on 99-year leases, and shorter leases of 15 to 45 years for elderly households, as long as the lease lets them live there until they are at least 95 years old.

Yesterday, MP Gan Thiam Poh (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) suggested that the Housing Board grant loans to senior citizens who wish to buy studio apartments with personal guarantees and for the loans to be serviced by their children.

However, Mr Khaw said that there was no need for such loans as studio apartments are aimed at those who are selling off a larger flat or private property.

"These buyers can pay for the studio apartments using their sale proceeds, with balance set aside for their retirement needs," he said.

He added that HDB also does not accept guarantor arrangements for loans out of prudence and to avoid disputes if an owner defaults.

Mr Gan later asked if priority for new two-room flats could be given to Singaporeans who are married to foreign spouses and who do not have children.

Mr Khaw replied that such Singaporeans are treated "no differently" from single first-time buyers.

In a written reply to Mr Faisal Manap (Aljunied GRC), the Ministry of National Development said 1,700 former rental flat tenants have moved into flats that they bought in the last three years.

Another 2,600 tenants have booked flats and are waiting for their completion.

Janice Heng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2015, with the headline ''No' to proposed changes on small flats'. Print Edition | Subscribe