SINGAPORE: A range of measures are in place to help people who have been affected by construction work delays due to the COVID-19 "circuit breaker", said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong in Parliament on Tuesday (May 26).
These include subsidised rates at serviced apartments for homeowners who need temporary accommodation, and interim rental flats for urgent cases.
Mr Wong was responding to questions from Member of Parliament Sylvia Lim on whether the Urban Redevelopment Agency (URA) and the Housing and Development Board (HDB) will allow rentals that are shorter than three months for private properties and six months for HDB flats, to help families displaced by construction delays.
There will be no change to those rules on the minimum rental period, said Mr Wong.
"However, in view of the COVID-19 situation, HDB and URA have been exercising flexibility on a case-by-case basis for households who are in genuine difficulty and need temporary," he added.
During the circuit breaker period, construction and renovation work had to be suspended.
For affected home owners, Mr Wong said authorities are working to see if transaction timelines can be pushed back.
The ministry is also working with serviced apartment operators, some of whom have agreed to offer subsidised rates to home owners who need temporary accommodation. In the “worst case” scenario, interim rental flats will be offered to "those who are really urgent and have difficulties", said Mr Wong.
"So there are a range of different measures that we are doing to help these people who are impacted. And we will certainly remind the agencies to be prompt and responsive to some of these appeals," he added.
"We will continue to do whatever we can to assist them."
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In response to Ms Lim’s supplementary question on when construction and renovation work for individual households can resume, Mr Wong reiterated that the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) will consider allowing such projects to resume, if contractors have the necessary safety requirements in place from Jun 2.
In Phase 1, priority will be given to renovation works that had already started but were suspended due to circuit breaker measures. For new projects, authorities will suggest that they be pushed back.
“But if there is any contractor that comes forward and says, ‘I have the workers, they are safe. I have the measures in place and I would like to be prioritised in Phase 1’, we will be prepared to consider such cases as well," he added.
BCA had announced earlier this month that contractors can begin work on projects from Jun 2, if safety protocols are implemented. This is in addition to the plan to let critical and time-sensitive projects such as MRT works and sewerage system tunnelling projects to begin first when the circuit breaker is lifted.