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More HDB rental flats for families awaiting BTO completion; new income ceiling for applicants

More HDB rental flats for families awaiting BTO completion; new income ceiling for applicants

A BTO project under construction. (File photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: More rental flats will be offered to help support families waiting for their Build-to-Order (BTO) home to be completed, said the Housing and Development Board (HDB) on Tuesday (Aug 3). 

A household income ceiling of S$7,000 will also be introduced for those applying under the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS) from Wednesday. 

In a media release, HDB said the 800 additional flats will be set aside over the next two years - almost doubling the existing 840 flats under the scheme.

READ: Spike in demand for BTO flats in recent years, especially in mature estates

"The increased supply of flats will better support families in need of temporary housing, while they await the completion of their new BTO flats," said HDB. 

Since 2020, the demand for interim rental housing from families awaiting their BTO flats has increased significantly, added HDB. Applications almost doubled to 2,350 in 2020, compared to 1,370 in the previous year. 

To better support flat buyers affected by construction delays, HDB said it will increase the supply of flats for rental under the PPHS.

Of the 800 additional flats, about 200 will be ready in 2021 and progressively released for application from the fourth quarter of the year. 

"These additional flats include vacated flats at sites currently undergoing the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS), flats which are unsold, and possibly vacant staff apartments at various polytechnics that are available temporarily." 

Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said delays in BTO completion have caused PPHS tenants to now stay longer in their flats, thus slowing down the return of the units to HDB for subsequent tenants.

The higher demand for PPHS flats was also caused by more people wanting their own space as they work from home and greater competition for open market rental from others in need of interim housing. 

Both of these factors have been accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said in a Facebook post.

S$7,000 INCOME CEILING FOR PPHS RENTAL FLAT 

In the release, HDB said that it will also "finetune" its eligibility conditions and allocation process for the scheme from Wednesday to prioritise families in greater need of temporary housing.

This is because the supply of flats remains limited even as HDB increases its stock of PPHS flats, it added. 

A household income ceiling of S$7,000 will be introduced for the application of such rental flats. 

READ: BTO projects expected 'to be delayed' by a year or more due to tightened COVID-19 border measures

"PPHS flats are highly subsidised, and the income ceiling will help to ensure that the flats are allocated to those who are less able to afford renting a flat on the open market," said HDB. 

Priority will also be given to married couples with children aged 18 years and below, including expectant parents. 

HDB also noted that while the number of applications for PPHS flats has risen since 2020, about half of those invited to select a flat eventually did not do so. 

This could be due to a variety of reasons, such as locational preferences, said HDB. 

"However, this also suggests that not all applicants may be in urgent need of temporary housing, and some may be able to continue with their current housing arrangements for some time," it added. 

To allow people with more urgent housing needs to secure a flat more quickly, those who do not select a flat after being invited twice to do so will need to wait one year from the date of the second non-selection before they can apply for a PPHS flat again. 

This applies to those who had an opportunity to select a flat but did not proceed with the selection, as well as those who did not proceed with payment after selecting a flat.

FLATS TO BE OFFERED ONCE EVERY TWO MONTHS

PPHS exercises will now be held once every two months, instead of monthly. 

HDB said the consolidation of flats over two months will provide applicants with a larger pool of flats to choose from. 

This would also improve their chances of securing a flat in each selection exercise and reduce the need for repeated applications.

READ: Commentary: If your BTO flat is delayed, staying with parents or in-laws isn’t a bad idea

From the next exercise in October 2021, those interested will have 14 days to submit their application, which allows HDB to process them earlier. 

PPHS, which was introduced in 2013, provides an additional interim housing option for married couples waiting for their new flats to be completed. 

To qualify, the families must have booked an uncompleted flat from HDB. 

The supply of such flats is limited and depends on the availability of vacant flats not needed for other purposes, such as those in vacated blocks that are not immediately needed for redevelopment. 

"Given the limited supply of PPHS flats, we encourage households awaiting the completion of their BTO flats to continue living with their families or consider renting from the open market," said HDB. 

"Lower-income households without any housing options may contact HDB, and we will assess if we can offer them interim rental housing (IRH) on a case-by-case basis," it added. 

HDB also reminded potential home buyers to account for the waiting time of new flats, and plan ahead for interim housing options before the completion of their BTO flats.


Source: CNA/ad(zl)

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