Owners of Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats who are finding it hard to dispose of their units due to the ethnic integration policy (EIP) can ask for an extension of time, revealed Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong in Parliament on Tuesday (9 December).
“For those who are unable to sell their flats, HDB may grant them an extension of time and advise them to be realistic with their asking prices,” said Wong in responding to MP for Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC Zainal Sapari’s question.
“Additionally, HDB has and will continue to exercise flexibility for households of mixed parentage or marriages, or where there are exceptional circumstances.”
However, he noted that most HDB sellers are able to find buyers from eligible ethnic groups considering the large number of buyers on the market every year.
Introduced in 1989 to ensure a balanced mix of ethnic groups within HDB estates, the EIP applies “to the sale and purchase of all HDB flats, and is implemented in a fair and transparent manner”.
Prospective sellers and buyers can check their ethnic eligibility via the HDB InfoWEB.
“The ethnic proportions are updated on the first day of every month, and they apply to all completed resale applications received during that month,” he said.
Meanwhile, tenants who rent HDB flats on the open market are not subject to the EIP since their stays are usually temporary in nature and do not affect ethnic proportions within HDB estates in the longer term, explained Wong.
Instead, flat owners renting out their units to one or more non-citizen tenants are subject to the non-citizen quota, which helps maintain the Singaporean character of the HDB heartlands.
The HDB website showed that the maximum proportion of flats that could be rented out to non-Malaysian, non-citizen subtenants is 11 percent for a block and eight percent for a neighbourhood, reported Channel News Asia.
“Malaysians will not be subject to the non-citizen quota in view of their close cultural and historical similarities with Singaporeans,” it said, noting that the quota does not also apply to the subletting of bedrooms.
As such, owners are required to seek approval from HDB and ensure they meet the quota before renting out their units, added Wong.
“HDB conducts regular inspections of flats to ensure that all flat owners adhere to HDB’s regulations. Unauthorised renting out of HDB flats is a serious infringement of the lease, and HDB will take firm action against any errant flat owners.”