Did you know that HDB not only builds public housing and sells (subsidised) HDB flats, but they also rent out flats? As the primary goal of HDB is to provide affordable public housing and to increase homeownership among Singaporeans, HDB has a very limited number of flats for rent.
There are only two schemes that allow you to rent a flat from HDB: the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme for those who are waiting for their BTO flats and the Public Rental Scheme for those who have lower incomes and no other housing options.
The rents for flats under the Public Rental Scheme are heavily subsidised to cater to Singaporean households who have no other housing options and the criteria are correspondingly restrictive.
Here is what you need to know about renting an HDB flat via the Public Rental Scheme in Singapore.
HDB Public Rental Scheme Is For Singapore Citizen Households Earning Less Than $1,500
You can apply for the Public Rental Scheme, as long as you are a Singapore Citizen (SC) above the age of 21 under the Family Scheme or under the Joint Singles Scheme.
If you are applying as a household through the Family Scheme, at least one person in your household must be a Singapore Citizen (SC) or a Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) and you must form a family nucleus consisting of:
- You and your spouse
- If single, you and your parents
- If widowed/ divorced, you and your children under your legal custody (care and control)
- Fiancé and fiancée
- If orphaned, you and your siblings (at least 1 parent was a SC or SPR)
If you are applying as a single through the Joint Singles Scheme, you and your listed occupier must be SCs and the both of you must be single (i.e. unmarried and at least 35 years old; divorced or legally separated from spouse, with legal documents, and at least 35 years old; or widowed or orphaned with at least 1 parent who was an SC or SPR).
For households that do not fit either scheme (e.g. unmarried single parent below the age of 35), you may contact HDB directly for assistance.
To be eligible for the Public Rental Scheme, your total gross monthly household income should be below $1,500. This applies regardless of whether you are applying as a single or a family. However, HDB does recognise that there may be exceptions and you can still apply if your monthly household income is higher.
You Have No Other Viable Housing Options
As HDB rental flats are meant as a last resort, you should have exhausted all other housing options before turning to them.
This means that you and your listed occupiers cannot be existing tenants or essential occupiers of an HDB flat. You cannot own or have an estate or interest in property (public or private) at point of application, local or overseas, residential or otherwise.
If you have previously owned a property, HDB will consider the proceeds from the sale of your last property (HDB or private, locally or overseas, residential or otherwise) in assessing your housing budget.
Likewise, if you have a source of family support (i.e. if any of your children can house you or are financially able to provide housing for you), you will not be eligible to rent from HDB.
Only 1-room And 2-room Flats Are Available For Rent
Only 1-room and 2-room flats are available under the Public Rental Scheme. 2-room flats are set aside for families with earned income and comprising 3 or more individuals. If your household has no earned income, you may only rent a 1-room regardless of the number of household members).
Those who applied under the Joint Singles Scheme can rent a 1-room partitioned flat (subject to availability) which has partitioned sleeping areas that can accommodate a single bed and wardrobe.
These rental flats are located in Ang Mo Kio Bedok, Bukit Merah, Jurong, Tampines and Woodlands. You can refer to this map of rental flat locations for the specific location and the availability.
HDB Rental Flats Are Highly Subsidised
HDB rental flats are highly subsidised to remain affordable for the lower income household that qualify for it. You are required to pay a rent deposit of one month’s rent when the tenancy agreement is signed. The rents are also tiered according to the household income and applicant type.
For the Public Rental Scheme, first-timer applicants refer to those who have never owned nor received any form of housing subsidies from HDB. For example, if you bought and sold a resale HDB and did not tap on CPF housing grant, you are considered a first-timer.
Second-timer applicants refer to those who have owned or sold a HDB bought directly from HDB or a resale bought using CPF Housing Grant; or received other forms of housing subsidies including benefits from Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) and privatisation of Housing and Urban Development Company (HUDC) estates and buying an Executive Condominium from a developer. For example, if you bought a HUDC flat without any housing grants but sold it after the estate was privatised, you are considered a second-timer applicant.
Regardless of whether you are a first-timer or second-timer applicant, rent assistance available for those who still have financial difficulties with the subsidised rents.
This includes the option to pay rent arrears by instalments within a reasonable time frame, referral to the Social Service Offices (SSOs) for assistance under the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF)’s ComCare Schemes, referral to the Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) or Family Service Centres (FSCs) for other forms of social support and rightsizing to a smaller flat with lower rent.
While Public Rental Scheme is a better option than sleeping on the streets, the strict criteria may exclude the scheme from those who need it.
Elderly singles may find it difficult to qualify for the scheme on their own while those who have children may have family support on paper but find it difficult to actually obtain that support. Likewise, those who do not fit the HDB’s definition of family nucleus such as an unmarried aunt taking care of her orphaned niece/nephew or an unmarried single parent may not be able to apply for the scheme directly. Instead, they can seek assistance from HDB directly.
(Cover image credit: Raymond Quek)
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