HDB sets quotas for renting out flats to foreigners and PRs
Quotas have been placed on the proportion of public flats which can be rented out to foreigners and permanent residents (PRs).
In an announcement by HDB on 16 January 2014, no more than 11% of units in any single block can be rented out to foreigners and PRs. The limit is 8% for each Housing Board neighbourhood. These caps came a month after Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said they were in the works.
According to HDB, the quotas are set to prevent the formation of foreigner enclaves in HDB estates, and maintain the Singaporean character of our HDB heartland. Malaysians, however, are exempted as they "can better integrate" because of their close links with Singaporeans.
The quotas will only apply to whole flats, and will not affect those who sublet rooms. This is to reduce the impact on those who rely on subletting income, especially the elderly and low-income households.
Data showed that less than 4% of flats across Singapore are wholly rented out to foreigners, but the figure can potentially rise to as high as 9% in some areas, and 18% in certain blocks. As of last month, about 1% of neighbourhoods and blocks had reached the quotas. These affected areas contained 1,840 sublet units - 270 of which were in excess of the quotas - in towns such as Central, Clementi, Jurong West, Queenstown and Sengkang.
HDB said existing tenants will not be affected immediately. Also, flat owners who are currently subletting their flats can continue doing so for the remaining rental period which was approved by the HDB.
Although a small number of flats are directly affected now, property experts believe the quotas will bite in the long run, especially in neighbourhoods where many foreigners work, such as around Changi General Hospital or business parks like Fusionopolis in Buona Vista. As such, it would be difficult for certain neighbourhoods to comply with the quotas.
A new e-service on the HDB's website will allow people to check whether a unit can be sublet to Singaporeans and Malaysians only, or to other non-citizens too. The information, to be updated on the first day of each month, will be valid for the whole month.
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