Tag Archives: Subletting

Market largely unaffected by subletting caps

Six months after the start of quotas on subletting public flats to foreigners, the fear that they would hurt the rental market does not seem to have come true.

As of June, only about 1 per cent of Housing Board neighbourhoods and blocks have reached the quota limits, the HDB told The Straits Times.

This is about the same proportion initially affected when the quota kicked in this January.

Since then, only 8 per cent of the flats in a neighbourhood or 11 per cent of the flats in a block can be wholly sublet to permanent residents or foreigners. This does not apply to subletting of rooms.

HDB said the measure “is to prevent the formation of foreigner enclaves in HDB estates, and maintain the Singaporean character of our HDB heartland”.

Malaysians, however, are exempt from this restriction because of their cultural similarities.

Agents said the overall rental market has been cool, but is largely unaffected by the change.

More than 46,000 HDB flats have approval to be rented out wholly.

HDB rental prices fell from August, edging up in February and March but sliding thereafter. The median monthly rent for HDB flats was $2,300 last month.

“(The change) hasn’t really affected things much,” said Prop-Nex agent Calvin Ng, who has rented out several flats in the west since then. “So far, the cases I’ve handled are still within the quota.”

Dennis Wee Realty agent Aaron Lin said the bigger challenges in the rental market are the stricter foreign labour policy and excess supply of flats for rent.

He has come up against the quota only near MRT stations in the west, such as Clementi.

Property agents who focus on such plum areas – near MRT stations in the western part of Singapore – such as Dennis Wee Realty agent Jimmy Chua, have been hit. “Most of the blocks that are more popular near the MRT are affected,” he said.

He added that many flat-hunters are foreign students or fresh graduates from the nearby universities, some of whom had to settle for “second-choice” units.

Century21 chief executive officer Ku Swee Yong expects the quotas to bite in Jurong East, where two hospitals – with more than 4,000 health-care workers – will be completed in the next 12 months.

SLP Realty agent Jordan Lim, who specialises in renting, has shifted his focus away from Clementi as a result of the change.

The quotas are not an issue in areas such as the east, he said.

But landlords such as Mr James Tan, who is in his 40s, do not have that option. Since February, his flat in West Coast Road has been subject to the quota and can be sublet only to Singaporeans or Malaysians. But no such prospective tenants have contacted him.

“I’m totally unable to rent out my flat. I just have to wait and check every month,” he said.

The quota information, available on the HDB’s website, is updated on the first of every month and is valid for the whole month.

Source : ST Property

HDB started checks after getting tip-off

IT ALL started with a tip-off to the Housing Board (HDB): A four-room flat in Bukit Batok was being rented out illegally.

Further checks confirmed that the flat – bought by Mr Poh Boon Kay and his wife Khoo Kim Cheng in June 2007 – had been sublet without the HDB’s prior approval to three Myanmar couples at a monthly rent of $1,900.

Mr Poh, a housing agent, and his family did not live in the flat.

They were told to evict the sub-tenants immediately on Nov 25 last year, failing which the board would take possession of the flat.

But the sub-tenants did not go.

On Dec 23, the HDB sent Mr Poh a notice to say it would take back his flat.

But Mr Poh, 61, claimed his tenants had agreed in writing to vacate the flat by the end of December.

The next day, he and his wife appealed against the HDB’s move. They said they intended to sell the flat to one of the tenants, who needed to sort out his finances.

The HDB then interviewed the couple on Jan 5 this year, during which they claimed they did not know that they needed prior approval to sublet the flat.

They also claimed that they were not aware of the minimum occupation period (MOP) of three years before they were allowed to sublet the flat.

But further HDB investigations showed that Mr Poh was connected with two other cases of unauthorised subletting of flats belonging to his relatives in Bukit Batok and Telok Blangah.

The flat in Bukit Batok belonged to his aunt, aged 91, and had been sublet to Myanmar monks since July last year for a monthly rent of $1,400.

The monks used it as a meditation centre, and the rent was paid to Mr Poh, who acted as his aunt’s housing agent.

The Telok Blangah flat, meanwhile, was owned by his daughter.

It had been rented out for $900 monthly since May.

Checks with neighbours confirmed that Mr Poh’s daughter was not living there.

Both flats were also sublet without obtaining the HDB’s prior consent, and the board said that it would be taking steps to acquire them compulsorily.

In a statement yesterday, the HDB said that the additional cases of illegal subletting by Mr Poh showed that his claims of being unaware of the HDB’s rules cannot be substantiated.

‘These regulations are publicly available from many sources,’ it said, adding that ‘there is clear evidence that Mr Poh, a housing agent by profession, has been intentionally abusing HDB flats for monetary gains’.

It concluded: ‘As he has blatantly flouted HDB’s rules, there are no grounds for leniency.’

See Also : Illegal subletting: HDB to repossess man’s flats

Source : Straits Times – 13 Mar 2010