BTO flats cannot be sold on resale market if Minimum Occupancy Period not fulfilled: Minister Desmond Lee

Homeowners have to physically live in their flats for at least five years before selling their BTO flats.

Benjamin Chew

Only drinks bubble tea with 100% sugar.

Published: 20 December 2022, 5:43 PM

Build-to-Order (BTO) flats homeowners are not allowed to sell their flats on the resale market if they did not fulfill the Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP), said Minister for National Development Desmond Lee.

In a Facebook post on Monday (Dec 19), Mr Lee wrote that a BTO flat must be owner-occupied for the full MOP period. If the owner is unable to fulfill the MOP period, the flat should be returned to HDB. 

The flat will then be put up for sale as a balance flats for other home buyers to apply for. 

Failure to do so may be considered as a breach of HDB rules, and HDB will also investigate accordingly, added Mr Lee.

I was asked whether a family can buy an HDB BTO flat, not live in it or move into it for 5 years, and then sell it as...

Posted by Desmond Lee on Monday, 19 December 2022

Mr Lee was responding to a query on whether a family can buy a HDB BTO flat, not live in it for five years and then resell it as “almost brand new” on the resale market.

Last week, a report by Mothership highlighted a property listing on PropertyGuru for a flat that in its original condition, unrenovated. Apart from the concrete floors without floor tiles, the toilet bowl was plastic wrapped. There was also no visible furniture in the house. 

The 1,206 sq ft unit was listed at $690,000, and is estimated to have been completed eight years ago. 

According to Mothership, the five-room corner flat at Yishun St 51 was left vacant as the owners’ “business took a turn for the better” and their family bought a landed property for everyone to stay together. 

Netizens online raised concerns that the flat owners had prevented Singaporeans who were in urgent need of a BTO flat a chance of owning one, especially with some unable to afford prices on the resale market. Some also called it an abuse of public housing. 

The HDB rules state that the MOP has to be hit before a flat can be sold on the open market. To fulfill the MOP, an owner has to physically occupy their flat. 

Under HDB’s eligibility conditions to sell a flat, homeowners are subjected to a five-year MOP when they purchase a flat from HDB. For flats under the Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) model, such as those in Queenstown, Kallang Whampoa and Bukit Merah, the MOP will last for 10 years instead. 

Upon fulfilling the MOP, homeowners can then consider applying for a flat in HDB sales exercises, selling the flat on the open market, renting out the flat or investing in private property, both local and overseas.

Homeowners can also sell their flats before the MOP in special circumstances, like bankruptcy or divorce, but should be aware that they might need to meet certain additional requirements before the sale can be made.

Those who are planning to sell their flat can check on their eligibility to do so through the HDB Resale Portal.

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