20140531 HDB lessees should not be called homeowners, clarification needed from government

The issue of homeowner vs HDB lessee was revisited in April by Goh Meng Seng in a TRS article “Myth of HDB “ownership” – do you really “own” your HDB flat”? This issue surfaced years ago and another article was republished in The Temasek Times in June last year.

The government has yet to address this issue and insists Singaporeans and PRs are owners of HDB flats. However, the HDB has already confirmed otherwise on its lease agreement.

HDB Lease

The buyers are stated as lessees


The HDB is of course stated as the lessor.


‘lessee’ – ‘a person to whom a lease is granted’ (buyer)

‘lessor’ – ‘a person or entity that grants a lease’ (HDB)

The HDB is the lessor and leases the HDB flat to the buyer who is the lessee; he is not the owner of the property.

It is not only misleading but wrong for the government to frequently use the term ‘home ownership’. Flat buyers are not owners.

Citizens can never own public housing and this is evidenced by the landlord (HDB) placing onerous conditions on the lease agreement. In a standard property transaction, the developer or seller does not demand from the buyer personal information on income, family nucleus, ownership of other properties, names of occupiers, etc.

The government should be upfront and not circumvent the question of ownership of property by confusing it with the ownership of the lease. Goh Meng Seng has already explained clearly in his article with regard to the trading of a HDB lease which gives the impression of our ownership.

Public property CANNOT be owned by any individual and HDB has clearly stated we only “Sign Agreement for Lease”.

I hope the government will be upfront with citizens on the issue of ownership. We are lessees (HDB tenants) and not homeowners.

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