Eligibility for Foreigners to Purchase Restricted Residential Property

  1. How is a foreign person defined as under the Residential Property Act.
  2. What types of property can a foreign person purchase without approval.
  3. What types of property must a foreign person seek approval to purchase.
  4. Is there any restriction on the property that I can buy.
  5. What are the factors the government would consider when reviewing my application.
  6. What are the conditions of approval.
  7. Can I apply even though I do not have a property in mind.
  8. What is the processing time.
  9. Can I appeal if my application to buy a landed property is rejected.
  10. Can I transfer my approval to buy a land property to another foreigner if it is granted.
  11. Is it possible for my Singaporean friend to buy a landed property on my behalf, and make him a trustee for my benefit.
  12. Can I purchase a private shophouse without having to obtain approval.
  13. Can I purchase a mixed portfolio of retail and commercial properties.
  14. Can I own a unit in a condominium development.
  15. Can I buy a strata bungalow or a cluster house.
  16. Can I buy vacant land to build my house.
  17. At the time of application, I had indicated that I intended to tear down and rebuild, or carry out reconstruction of, or make additions and alterations to, the property. After approval was granted, I decided not to carry out any of the works mentioned. Do I need to inform LDAU.
  18. Can I apply for approval to buy a restricted residential property if I already own a property.
  19. I own a restricted property. Can I apply to purchase another restricted property.
  20. When I was a Singapore Citizen, I bought a restricted residential property. Would I still be allowed to own the property after I give up my citizenship.
  21. When I was a Singapore Permanent Resident, I was granted approval to purchase a restricted residential property. Would I still be allowed to own the property after I cancel my permanent residence, other than on the ground of becoming a Singapore citizen.
  22. What are the penalties if I breach the conditions.
  23. I bought a landed property as a Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) and subsequently obtained my Singapore citizenship. How do I update my property records.
  24. Can a foreign company buy a vacant land, subdivide it and sell the subdivided land.


1. How is a foreign person defined as under the Residential Property Act.

    A foreign person means any person who is not any of the following:
  • Singapore Citizen;
  • Singapore Company;
  • Singapore Limited Liability Partnership; or
  • Singapore Society.
    Note: A Singapore Permanent Resident is considered a foreign person.

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2. What types of property can a foreign person purchase without approval.

  • Condominium unit;
  • Flat unit;
  • Strata landed house in an approved condominium development;
  • A leasehold estate in a landed residential property for a term not exceeding 7 years, including any further term which may be granted by way of an option for renewal;
  • Shophouse (for commercial use);
  • Industrial and commercial properties;
  • Hotel (registered under the provisions of the Hotels Act); and
    A foreign person is not allowed to buy all the apartments within a building or all the units in an approved condominium development without the prior approval of the Minister for Law.
    The following properties are not under the purview of the Residential Property Act. Intended purchasers of these properties are advised to enquire directly with the Housing and Development Board (HDB) regarding their eligibility:
  • Executive condominium unit, HDB flat and HDB shophouse.
  • An HDB flat purchased directly from HDB.
  • A resale HDB flat where HDB has consented to the sale.
  • An HDB shophouse.
  • An Executive Condominium purchased under the Executive Condominium Housing Scheme.

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3. What types of property must a foreign person seek approval to purchase.

    The followings are classed as restricted residential property:
  • Vacant residential land;
  • Terrace house;
  • Semi-detached house;
  • Bungalow/detached house;
  • Strata landed house which is not within an approved condominium development under the Planning Act (eg. townhouse or cluster house);
  • Shophouse (for non-commercial use);
  • Association premises;
  • Place of worship; and
  • Worker’s dormitory/service apartments/boarding house (not registered under the provisions of the Hotels Act).
    **Approval will have to be obtained from Land Dealing Approval Unit for the purchase of a restricted residential property. You can apply for a written approval from the Controller of Residential Property Land Dealings.  The application forms can be obtained from Singapore Land Authority website.

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4. Is there any restriction on the property that I can buy.

    Yes. The land area of the property must not exceed 1,393.5 sq metres or 15,000 sq feet. In addition, the property must not be situated within a good class bungalow (GCB) area.

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5. What are the factors the government would consider when reviewing my application.

    Every application is considered on its own merits. The main criteria are whether you are a permanent resident of Singapore and your economic contribution to Singapore. In assessing your economic contribution to Singapore, the main factors considered are your:
  • uou must be a permanent resident of Singapore;
  • professional/technical/academic qualifications;
  • expertise and working experience needed by Singapore;
  • you must make adequate economic contribution to Singapore;
  • investments in the type of industry or service sector needed in Singapore.
    Note: Applications are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and the entire process should take about three months.

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6. What are the conditions of approval.

    The conditions are that:

  • you shall use the property solely for your own occupation and that of the members of your family as a dwelling house and not for rental or any other purpose;
  • you shall not dispose of the property within 5 years from the date of legal completion of the purchase of the property or, if the property is under construction, 5 years from the date of issue of the Temporary Occupation Permit or Certificate of Statutory Completion (whichever is issued earlier) for the property; and
  • you shall not subdivide the property without approval.

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7. Can I apply even though I do not have a property in mind.

    Yes, you may apply for an approval in-principle. In fact, you are encouraged to do so before entering into any contract to purchase a restricted property so as to avoid any forfeiture of monies paid in the event you are not granted approval to acquire the property.
    If approval is granted, you have to submit the details of the property you intend to purchase within 6 months from the date of the letter of approval. Otherwise, the approval will lapse and you will have to make a fresh application. There is no extension of validity for the approval in-principle granted.
    .

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8. What is the processing time.

    About 20 working days from the date all information and documents are received by us. The processing time includes verifying the information with other agencies, checking if the applicant or his spouse owns restricted property, as well as the assessment of the application by the Residential Property Advisory Committee before the final recommendation is sent to the Minister for consideration.

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9. Can I appeal if my application to buy a landed property is rejected.

    Yes. You may appeal to the Ministry of Law within three months from the date of notice of rejection. However, the Minister’s decision is final and you will not be able to appeal again.

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10. Can I transfer my approval to buy a land property to another foreigner if it is granted.

    No. It cannot be transferred.

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11. Is it possible for my Singaporean friend to buy a landed property on my behalf, and make him a trustee for my benefit.

    No. Such an arrangement is illegal.

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12. Can a foreign person purchase a private shophouse without having to obtain approval.

    Whether a foreign person can purchase a private shophouse depends on the zoning of the land on which the property is erected and the approved use of the property.
    For example,

  • If the shophouse is approved for mixed commercial and residential use and erected on land which has been zoned ‘commercial’ or ‘commercial and residential’, the foreign person can purchase the property without approval.
  • If the shophouse is approved for mixed commercial and residential use and erected on land which has been zoned ‘residential’, the foreign person is required to obtain approval to purchase the shophouse.
  • If the shophouse is approved for residential with commercial on 1st storey use and erected on land which has been zoned ‘residential’, the foreign person is required to obtain approval to purchase the shophouse.
  • The above is only a guide. Your lawyers will be able to advise you based on the reply of the Chief Executive Officer, URA, on the zoning and approved use of the property. If you are in doubt, you may wish to write to us and enclose a copy of that reply.

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13. Can a foreign person purchase a mixed portfolio of retail and commercial properties.

    There are no restrictions on foreigners acquiring commercial or industrial properties. You can freely purchase these properties which include hotels, retail properties, offices, etc.

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14. Can a foreign person own a unit in a condominium development.

    Yes.

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15. Can a foreign person buy a strata bungalow or a cluster house.

    If the strata bungalow and cluster house are not comprised within an approved condominium development, a foreign person who wishes to purchase the properties must apply for approval prior to the purchase.

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16. Can I buy vacant land to build my house.

    Yes. If approval is granted, you will be required to complete the construction of the dwelling house on the property within 3 years from the date of the letter conveying the decision.

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17. At the time of application, I had indicated that I intended to tear down and rebuild, or carry out reconstruction of, or make additions and alterations to, the property. After approval was granted, I decided not to carry out any of the works mentioned. Do I need to inform LDAU.

    Yes, you are required to submit an online application for variation of condition to remove the conditions imposed with regard to the above works. A non-refundable application fee is payable.

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18. Can I apply for approval to buy a restricted residential property if I already own a property.

    Yes, you may do so.
    However, if the existing property you own is a restricted residential property, you are required to dispose of your existing property within the stipulated time period:
  • (where separate legal title has been issued for the new property to be purchased), on or before the legal completion of the purchase of the new property;
  • (where the new property to be purchased is under construction), within 3 months after the date of issue of the Temporary Occupation Permit or Certificate of Statutory Completion (whichever is earlier) for the new property; or
  • (where the Temporary Occupation Permit or Certificate of Statutory Completion for the new property to be purchased has been issued but separate legal title has not been issued), within 3 months after the date the seller delivers vacant possession of the new property to you.
    [Note: For HDB flat or a non-privatised HUDC Phase III and IV flat and Executive Condominium, you are strongly advised to check with HDB as to whether you are eligible to retain your HDB flat without owner-occupation.].

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19. I own a restricted property. Can I apply to purchase another restricted property.

    Yes, you may, provided you have fulfilled the 5-year non-disposal condition. However, if you are granted approval for the purchase, you will be required to dispose of your existing restricted property as follows:
  • on or before the date of legal completion of the purchase of the new property; or
  • within 3 months from the date of issue of the Temporary Occupation Permit or Certificate of Statutory Completion (whichever is issued earlier) if the property is under construction; or
  • within 3 months from the date the seller delivers vacant possession of the new property for which the Temporary Occupation Permit has been issued but separate title has not been issued yet.

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20. When I was a Singapore Citizen, I bought a restricted residential property. Would I still be allowed to own the property after I give up my citizenship.

    No. You shall be required to sell the property within 2 years from the date of cessation of your Singapore citizenship. If you fail to do so, you shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $20,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years or both.

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21. When I was a Singapore Permanent Resident, I was granted approval to purchase a restricted residential property. Would I still be allowed to own the property after I cancel my permanent residence, other than on the ground of becoming a Singapore citizen.

    No. You shall be required to sell the restricted residential property within 2 years from the date of cessation of your Singapore permanent residence. If you fail to do so, you shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $20,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years or to both.

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22. What are the penalties if I breach the conditions.

    Depending on which condition is breached, you may be required to pay a financial penalty or be liable, upon conviction by a court, to a fine of up to $200,000 and/or imprisonment for a term of up to 3 years.

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23. I bought a landed property as a Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) and subsequently obtained my Singapore citizenship. How do I update my property records.

    You need to write in officially to Land Dealings (Approval) Unit to inform us on the change in your citizenship. You are also required to forward certified true copies of either your Singapore passport, Singapore (pink) identity card or certificate of Singapore citizenship. You will then be released from the conditions imposed on you as a SPR purchaser.
    To update your citizenship in the Certificate of Title (CT), you need to write to the Land Titles Registry, forwarding a certified true copy of your certificate of Singapore citizenship, certified by a lawyer. If you require your CT to show the change, you need to forward the CT and a fee of $20.40 for a reprint of the CT.

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24. Can a foreign company buy a vacant land, subdivide it and sell the subdivided land.

    No.

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For more information, please contact Singapore Land Authority or you may contact us if you require assistance in the application.

*Please note that information provided is as it is basis, whilst every effort has been made to provide up-to-date information. The author is not responsible for inaccuracies or whatsoever as a result from using this information.


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