Since January 2022, the Council of Estate Agencies (CEA) has identified 20 property agents participating in the marketing of unoccupied HDB flats. These flats were never inhabited, which goes against HDB regulations.
CEA took appropriate measures against these agents, involving fines and formal warnings. According to HDB policies, flat owners must meet a 5 years minimum occupation period before selling their property, which means they need to reside in the flat physically.
Several such cases came into the spotlight last year when the media reported on Housing Board flats advertised on property platforms as "brand new, never lived in," featuring images suggesting they had never been occupied. In response, CEA recently concluded investigations into four cases highlighted in the media in December 2022.
HDB has stated that it will repossess two HDB flats, one in Yishun Street 51 and the other in Depot Road, with one of them already being taken over by HDB. Flats compulsorily acquired by HDB are usually made available for sale through the Sale of Balance Flats exercises.
In one of the cases, the owners had obtained a court order to sell their flat, which was a matrimonial property. The owner had also registered their intent to sell with HDB. However, HDB repossessed the flat as they maintained that:
1. The court order did not override the MOP rule.
2. The registration of an Intent to Sell did not constitute HDB's approval to sell the flat.
Therefore, even if a court order has been issued for the sale of a matrimonial property, it remains subject to HDB's MOP requirement.
HDB emphasizes that its flats are primarily intended for owner-occupation, a principle supported by policies like the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP). This applies to HDB flats obtained directly from HDB as well as those acquired from the resale market.
The housing agency takes violations of MOP rules seriously and is prepared to take enforcement actions. If investigations confirm that a flat was not owner-occupied during the MOP, HDB can compulsorily acquire the flat, impose fines of up to S$50,000, or issue written warnings.
Owners whose flats are compulsorily acquired by HDB also face restrictions, such as being debarred from purchasing a subsidized flat, acquiring another flat through a change in ownership, or renting a public rental flat from HDB.
The Minimum Occupation Period is calculated from the date the owners receive the keys to the flat and excludes any period during which the owners do not occupy the flat. So if the owners rent out their entire flat for 1 year, it will not be counted towards the MOP.
For Plus and Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) BTO flats, the MOP will be 10 years to avoid speculation because these are heavily subsidised brand new flats.
For existing standard flats, the MOP will be 5 years.