20160210 HDB tenancy/lease transaction doesn’t confirm ownership

Singaporeans never owned any public housing unit but the majority of us have chosen to belief in propaganda instead of facts. This despite legal documents stating we are merely lessees.

HDB ‘owners’ have confused themselves and continue to believe that tenancy transaction = ownership. Perhaps a comparison between a HDB flat seller and tenant of private housing will clear their doubts once and for all. Whether we buy or sell a HDB flat makes no difference to our ‘tenant’ status because we are merely effecting a long-term tenancy agreement. Ownership of HDB flats stays with …. landlord HDB.

. HDB ‘owner’ (tenant in fact) Tenant of private housing
1 Lease unit from HDB for 99 years Lease unit from landlord for 2 years
2 Decides to terminate lease after 5 years Decides to end tenancy at 12 months
3 Must seek HDB approval No need to seek approval from third party, forgoes deposit
4 Subject to ethnic ratio Not subject to any ethnic ratio
5 Subject to inspection by HDB Branch Subject to inspection by landlord only
6 HDB has the authority to cancel the transaction Transaction involves only the tenant and landlord, no third party
7 HDB has right to take legal action for false declaration Legal action only between tenant and landlord
8 New buyer subject to 101 HDB terms and conditions New tenant not subject to 101 terms and conditions by third party
9 Buyer below 35 must be married/form a family nucleus New tenant not subject to such requirements


In the above example, although the buyers purchase a flat from the HDB, they are in fact merely tenants due to the 101 terms and conditions imposed before the purchase and right up to sale completion to another buyer.

In the case of the private housing tenant, he could have found a new tenant for the landlord after deciding on early termination of the lease for valid reasons. This is similar to the HDB seller finding a buyer before the 99-year lease is up and informing HDB who is the real landlord/owner.

Did the private housing tenant become owner by merely transacting the tenancy/lease?

Some have argued that the onerous HDB terms are necessary because of the government grant. And they are still owners! But what about those who did not receive any grant?

We are termed owners for the simple reason that there would be no need to contribute to the sinking fund and property tax if we are not owners.

It is still pretty difficult for ‘owners’ to admit they have been fleeced big time. The government wouldn’t fleece the people for decades in such a manner would they?

But there is actually no doubt that PAP would after they have confiscated a portion of CPF returns under the pretext of capital and interest guarantee. CPF returns in excess of the arbitrary CPF rates, which belong to CPF members, have been creamed off to supplement the budget for decades. If we had a roaring economy, why the need to abuse our CPF savings in such a manner?

Worse, CPF funds were used to set up GLCs with the PAP parachuting scholars with zero relevant experience into leadership positions.

The question is not whether we have been fleeced but whether we are willing to face the embarrassment and set things right.

When HDB dictates all the terms and conditions and also has the right to amend them at its whim, it is self insulting to deny HDB’s ownership of our flats and insist HDB flat buyers are owners.

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2 Responses to 20160210 HDB tenancy/lease transaction doesn’t confirm ownership

  1. Sinkie says:

    For point 3 of private housing, the tenant will probably won’t even lose his rental deposit due to the diplomatic clause in tenancy agreements, which usually kicks in after 12 months. In today’s depressed property market, the minimum lock-in period can be reduced to 6 months, or even cancelled out altogether for desperate landlords.

    For HDB buyers, you’re locked in for 5 years, even if you have very good reason e.g. long-term job loss or serious illness/injury such as loss of limbs or cancer, that prevents you from affording to continue paying mortgage. HDB will offer to take back the flat only at 90% of the current valuation. In today’s downtrending market, that can mean you’re looking at -15% to -20% loss.

    • Phillip Ang says:

      Many have collectively lost millions to HDB through no fault of theirs. PAP housing policy has been profiting from citizens’ misery. But the majority who have yet to be affected have no empathy and don’t want change. 😦

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