SINGAPORE: The Housing and Development Board (HDB) will offer about 7,800 flats in its Build-To-Order (BTO) August 2020 sales exercise, it said in a press release on Friday (May 29), as Singapore readied itself to exit the COVID-19 "circuit breaker" period.
The BTO exercise originally scheduled for launch in May will be combined with the August exercise.
HDB added it would also be gradually resuming its customer-facing services and operations, as well as construction activities.
As part of the August exercise, BTO flats will be offered in Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Choa Chu Kang, Geylang, Pasir Ris, Tampines, Tengah and Woodlands.
About 5,700 flats in Bishan, Sembawang, Tampines, Tengah and Toa Payoh will also be offered in November.
Of the soon-to-be-launched flats, those in Choa Chu Kang, Tampines North and Tengah have shorter waiting times, said HDB.
However, the launch of the pilot assisted living project at Bukit Batok, which caters to the needs of seniors aged 65 and above, will be deferred to a later date amid a continued suspension of senior-centric activities due to the threat of COVID-19.
"HDB will defer the launch of the pilot project until a later date, when we are better able to reach out to seniors to share the details of the flat offerings with them," HDB said.
PHASED RESUMPTION OF HDB SERVICES
HDB also said it will gradually resume its customer-facing services and operations, as well as calibrate the restart of construction activities allowed by the multi-ministry task force handling the outbreak.
The Singapore Government had announced its decision to exit the circuit breaker period as planned on Jun 1, and resume economic and business activities in phases from Jun 2.
Services at the HDB Hub and branches will strictly be by appointment from Jun 2 until further notice, HDB said. No walk-ins will be allowed.
HDB officers will contact customers directly to schedule their appointments as the HDB e-appointment system will continue to be suspended.
READ: COVID-19: Phase 2 of post-circuit breaker reopening could begin before end-June, says Lawrence Wong
Customers visiting the HDB Hub and branches will be required to observe safe distancing measures.
This includes wearing a mask at all times, submitting their health declarations via SafeEntry as well as maintaining a distance of at least 1 m.
HDB also advised customers without prior appointments not to visit the HDB Hub and branches. The suite of e-services on the HDB InfoWeb will still be available should they need to contact HDB for residential, business, car parks and other matters.
Only people directly involved in transactions can be present during the appointments, said HDB.
Critical services that were deferred due to the circuit breaker period will have appointments scheduled.
These include booking of flats, key collection for new flats and rental flats, lease agreement signings, completion of resale flat transactions, transfer of flat ownership and financial counselling on assistance matters.
Housing inspections for ongoing resale transactions as well as critical maintenance works will resume for customers with scheduled appointments.
Other services, such as the signing of tenancy documents and issue of keys for commercial properties will have appointments scheduled from Jun 8 onwards.
RESUMPTION OF CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITIES
Construction work will be allowed to resume in phases from Jun 2, as announced by the task force on May 15.
All construction activities at HDB worksites had been suspended from Apr 7 due to circuit breaker measures.
Resumption of critical and time-sensitive projects will be prioritised, to allow the construction workforce to resume work safely, HDB said.
READ: COVID-19: Construction sites can resume work from Jun 2; priority given to projects that follow new safety measures
READ: Construction workers to be tested regularly when projects gradually resume after circuit breaker
Building contractors must meet safety pre-requisites under the Building and Construction Authority's (BCA) COVID-Safe Restart Criteria before they are allowed to resume on-site works.
"HDB is working closely with our building contractors and BCA on the phased resumption of construction works at the various sites," it said.
The completion of some BTO projects are expected to be delayed by up to six months beyond their original estimated completion dates.
This is due to suspended construction activities, as well as strict safe management measures put in place at worksites to prevent major COVID-19 outbreaks.
"Where the project completion dates are affected, we will keep flat
buyers informed of the revised probable completion dates via their My HDBPage account," HDB said.
However, upgrading works will not resume. HDB said it is working with BCA and their contractors to assess when and how works can resume "in a safe and calibrated manner".
ASSISTANCE MEASURES FOR HDB RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES
HDB has also put in place a range of assistance measures to help cushion the impact of COVID-19 on its residents and businesses.
Tenants are allowed to pay rental arrears via instalments or have rent reduced for needy tenants.
Late payment charges on rent arrears are suspended for three months from April to June 2020.
Tenants in financial hardship will be referred to the Ministry of Social and Family Development's (MSF) Social Service Office for ComCare assistance.
Flat owners who have difficulties in servicing their HDB loans over the short to medium term will have their loan instalment payments deferred or reduced for six months.
If needed, flat owners are also allowed to extend their mortgage loan tenure to help reduce monthly instalments.
Late payment charges on their mortgage arrears are also suspended for three months from April to June.
HDB also suggested flat owners who face longer-term challenges can consider "right-sizing to a smaller flat that is within their budget".
READ: Fortitude Budget: Additional S$800 million set aside for COVID-19 Support Grant; S$100 one-off utilities credit
For commercial property owners and tenants, qualifying tenants in HDB shops and social-communal facilities will receive four months of rental rebates while qualifying tenants in HDB offices will receive two months of rental rebates, HDB said.
Tenants may also approach HDB to discuss options for more flexible rental payments such as instalment plans.
HDB and the Urban Redevelopment Authority have also extended the grace period at EPS car parks from 10 minutes to 20 minutes from Apr 17 until the end of Phase 1 of the post-circuit breaker period.
This is to facilitate the increase in the volume of essential deliveries to residents at home.
"The extension will allow those who are providing delivery services more time to park their vehicles and make their deliveries without incurring parking charges," HDB said.