How will new HDB regulation affect renters and flat owners?

HDB flats in Singapore
A view of a newly constructed public housing estate in Singapore Reuters

The new rules established by Singapore's Housing & Development Board (HDB) will most likely affect renters dwelling above HDB commercial spaces, a property expert said.

To recall, the housing board imposed a rule requiring all flat owners to seek approval before beginning tenancy agreement.

ERA Realty Network Key Executive Officer Eugene Lim said under the new regulations, units above HDB commercial spaces would have to apply to the housing board for approval before tenancy.

"There was previously no requirement to apply to HDB for approval prior to the commencement of the tenancy," he noted.

He furthered, "As it is common that employees working in the commercial units live in the units above, this might impact them, especially those in the more labour intensive industries such as food and beverage."

The housing board also imposed a six-person occupancy cap for flats with four or more bedrooms.

According to the new regulation, a flat owner will only be allowed to rent their property to a maximum of six unrelated persons starting May 1 this year.

Lim noted that for the majority of the cases, any effect is expected to be minimal, as most tenants prefer to have a room to themselves.

"As four room or larger flats have 3 bedrooms, the maximum of 6 unrelated tenants would not affect current tenants much. Most landlords would also prefer not to have too many tenants in the same dwelling due to maintenance and wear & tear," he explained.

HDB's recent regulation changes came nearly a year after the Urban Redevelopment Authority imposed occupancy caps on private residential properties.

In a statement, HDB said the changes seek to address the problems caused by overcrowding and to maintain a conducive living environment in Singapore's public housing estates.

The housing board is opening up applications and may be submitted online via HDB's e-services. An administrative fee is required for each application: S$10 per bedroom and S$20 for the whole flat. Those wanting to rent out living quarters in commercial properties would have to settle the S$100 the administrative fee per application.

This article was first published on February 2, 2018