Lease expiry: Most of those in owner-occupied units qualify for public housing

Geylang Lorong 3 is where the first batch of residential properties will return to the State when the lease runs out, with no extensions allowed.
Geylang Lorong 3 is where the first batch of residential properties will return to the State when the lease runs out, with no extensions allowed.ST FILE PHOTO

The vast majority of those living in the 39 owner-occupied private terraced houses in 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).

Family members of the households living in 35 units have met SLA officers and qualified for public housing after having their circumstances assessed by the SLA and HDB.

Of the remaining four households, two have made relocation plans, said the SLA. And two are still considering their options.

A total of 191 units are affected by the lease expiry. The remaining units consist of temple operators or are rented out to foreign workers when the original owners moved out.

Geylang Lorong 3 is where the first batch of residential properties will return to the State when the lease runs out, with no extensions. Owners were informed four months ago that 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, and their applications are still being processed by the HDB.

It urged the rest to apply in upcoming BTO exercises.

While some owners have asked about the possibility of lease renewal, the authority has said that, as a general policy, land will return to the State upon lease expiry.

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 leases running 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 units have either contacted the SLA or attended the engagement sessions.

The 2ha plot of land, located about 900m from Kallang MRT station, 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 got 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 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2017, with the headline 'Lease expiry: Most of those in owner-occupied units qualify for public housing'. Print Edition | Subscribe