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11 Top HDB questions Singaporeans Have, Answered

25 January 2022 | BY

Here are the answers to 11 burning questions on HDB flats, rules and regulations that many occupants might not know.

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Having public housing in Singapore is definitely something to be grateful for. But with public housing comes a whole list of rules and regulations that even long-time occupants of HDB flats might not even fully know. 

So, we asked around and took to forum sites to compile a list of burning questions Singaporeans had about all things HDB to bring you these answers:

1. Who can rent an HDB flat?

hdb room
Image credit:
@basic.haus

Ownership of an HDB in Singapore can be a little complicated, but you’ll be happy to know that simply renting one is a lot more straightforward. While home ownership applicants for an HDB have to be Singaporean citizens or Permanent Residents, renting an HDB flat is also extended to non-citizens who are legally residing in Singapore.

These include holders of Employment Passes, S Passes, Work Permits, Student Passes, Dependant Passes, or Long-Term Social Visit Passes that have a validity period of at least six months.

While eligibility for rental isn’t as strict as HDB ownership, it is worth noting that rental of a HDB flat must be for at least a six month period.

2. What should I do if all my BTO attempts have failed? 

Thanks to the pandemic, the chances of successfully applying for a BTO seems to have gotten lower. With the overwhelming number of applicants each round, you’re probably wondering what you’re going to do if all your attempts fail.

For a lot of couples unable to secure a queue number, they choose to go for a resale flat. Although a bit more expensive, resale flats tend to have a slightly larger land area than newer flats and you don’t have to wait for as long a time to get your keys. 

Alternatively, Executive Condos are also a good option for those with salaries creeping past $14,000. Unlike private condos, ECs sit on government-subsidised land and are still eligible for grants, so they’ll be a bit more affordable if you’re not ready to empty your bank account for housing.

3. What are queue numbers based on? If they are at all based on anything

receiptImage credit: Farrah

Already the chances of getting a BTO queue number are pretty slim as it is. Getting a good one is a whole other story. While there are ways to increase your chances of getting a number, the order of queue numbers are totally randomly generated so there’s no way to guarantee getting a good one.

If you’re worried about even successfully balloting, there are ways to increase your chances. Other than having double the ballot chances as a first-time applicant, moving into a flat near your parents, or having a child can up your chances. 

These are some of the priority schemes you can apply for:

Priority Scheme Eligibility Flat Allocation
Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS)
  • First-timer buyers
  • Have a child aged 18 years or below
  • If you and your spouse are expecting, and have a doctor’s certification of the pregnancy.
Up to 30% of BTO units
Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS)
  • Parents must submit a joint application with their married child
  • If your child is widowed and has children
  • If your child is divorced but has children under his/her legal custody, care and control.
For parents, up to 15% of the 2-room Flexi or 3-room flats (min. 20 units).

For the married child household, the corresponding number of 2-room Flexi or larger flats.

Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS)
  • Apply for a flat within 4km from an HDB flat or a private residential property that your parents/ married child reside in
Up to 30% of BTO units for first-timers (15% for second-timers)
Third Child Priority Sceme (TCPS)
  • Your family must consist of at least three children
  • You third child must be a Singapore citizen born on or after 1 January 1987
  • You have not previously bought a flat under the TCPS
Up to 5% of BTO units 
Assistance Scheme for Second Timers (Divorced/ Widowed Parents) (ASSIST)
  • Divorced or separated  persons with at least 1 child aged 18 years or below
Up to 5% (for 2-room Flexi and 3-room flats in non-mature estates only). Quota is shared with the 30% quota for second-timers. 
Tenants’ Priority Scheme (TPS)
  • You and your family must have been living in an HDB public rental flat for at least two years
Up to 10% of 2-room Flexi and 3-room BTO units 
Senior Priority Scheme (SPS)
  • For seniors applying for a flat within 4km of their existing home or a residential property that your parents/married child resides in
40% of 2-room Flexi units are allocated for elderly. Of this, half is set aside for this scheme 

More info on: hdb.gov

4. What are the HDB approved pets?

For all the animal lovers out there, you can take heart in knowing that HDB has no restrictions on small animals as long as they don’t cause a disturbance to your neighbours. So, you can keep all the hamsters, guinea pigs, and terrapins you want. 

However, cat-lovers and dog-lovers should know that there are quite a few restrictions for our beloved felines and canines. In fact, cats aren’t allowed in HDBs at all. The reasoning behind this is that cats have the tendency to wander out of the house, urinate in the common areas and are generally thought to be a nuisance to the public. 

dogImage credit: @hirothesuperdoggo

Dog owners, however, are allowed to keep any of the 62 HDB-approved breeds but can only own one dog at a time. If you’re a strong believer in the adopt-don’t-shop policy, you’ll be pleased to know that shelter dogs are included provided that they are more than six months old and do not exceed the shoulder height of 55cm.

5. Do you get the same amount of loans for resale and BTO?

The short answer is, yes. Regardless of whether you’re applying for a resale or a BTO, the options available to you are the same – either a HDB loan or a bank loan. There are some differences between the two in case you’re still wondering which to pick. 

HDB Loan Bank Loan
Interest rate is fixed at 2.6%, or 0.1% above the interest rate of your Central Provident Fund’s (CPF) Ordinary Account. Interest rates fluctuate and depends on the general economic situation
No minimum loan Minimum loan varies across banks
Downpayment can be up to 10% and can be paid with CPF Downpayment required is 5% of the purchase price in cash plus 20% in cash and/or CPF OA funds
New flats – LTV limit is up to 90% of the purchase price.

Resale flats – LTV limit is up to 90% of the resale price or value, whichever is lower.

LTV limit is up to 75%
Penalties are less harsh Penalties apply for both late payments and early repayments

6. Can you buy a resale flat while waiting for your BTO?

While unconventional, you can definitely buy a resale flat while waiting for your BTO. In fact, it might be your only option as you’re not allowed to own both an HDB and a private property. To start looking into this, you can approach your HDB officer and ask them about transitional or interim housing options and they’ll direct you to the right people.

However, the Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP) of the resale flat has to be within the waiting period for your BTO. If you’re waiting for your BTO, the MOP of your resale flat would be reduced to two years so the waiting period for your BTO just has to be more than that.

Alternatively, you can apply for the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS) which offers interim housing to newly-wed couples waiting for their HDB. All you need is a successful BTO application and a marriage certificate.

7. What if I can’t repay my HDB loan?

Dealing with bills and loans can be a headache, especially if you’re unable to make payments. Fortunately, HDB does have Financial Assistance Measures (FAM) to help families who may have difficulties paying the monthly installments.  

Some of these include lowering the monthly installments by extending the housing loan term, or deferring or reducing the loans for up to six months. These measures are ideal for those in short-term financial crises and gives them time to get back on their feet.

In more drastic situations, there is a home protection scheme under CPF that reduces your mortgage and protects you from losing your home in the event of death, terminal illness, or total permanent disability. This particular scheme insures you up till the age of 65, or until you clear your housing loans. 

8. What happens if we get an HDB under the singles scheme but get married in the future, can we still apply for a new flat?

HDB does have fairly strict rules on home ownership, including the fact that every nuclear family unit can only own one flat. In this case, if you and your new boo each got a house under the singles scheme, either one of you has to sell your flat or transfer ownership within six months of the marriage.

Following the rule on home ownership, if you’re looking to get a totally new flat, you’ll have to sell or transfer the ownership of any existing homes you might have. When you’re ready to apply for your new flat, you also should know that you’ll be considered a second-time applicant so you won’t have the first-time applicant privileges.

9. Who is eligible for BTO?

Other than finding a life partner, there are a few other considerations you need to take note of before you’re eligible to apply for a BTO.

All applicants and occupants have to be 21 years old and above, and at least one of you must be a Singapore citizen with another citizen or a PR. Other than that, HDB is meant to keep housing affordable for the average Singaporean. So, the combined monthly income of the applicants must be less than $14,000 for a 4-room or less than $7,000 for a 2- or 3-room.

10. Should I apply for BTO or resale?

BTO vs resale is the age-old question. While most people’s argument seems to be that resale is pricier and BTO has a longer wait time, the battle between BTO and resale is a little more complicated than that. From different grants to different eligibility criteria, there’s actually more to contest between the two housing options. You can read more about it in detail in our BTO vs resale comparison here.

The bottom line is that resale is great for those who can’t afford to wait for your BTO, or aren’t eligible for one because of an exceeded income ceiling or citizenship. On the other hand, BTOs reign supreme in terms of affordability with the added bonus of having a lower renovation cost. So, at the end of the day it really depends on what works for you and what doesn’t.

11. Are there special loans for students?

Other than HDB loans and bank loans there aren’t really any special types that are specific to students. While that may be the case, unemployed full-time students can apply for Deferred Income Assessment provided that both parties are studying full-time or serving NS within 12 months of the time of application.

This is necessary for students as applications for an HDB require at least one party to show proof of full-time employment before being able to apply for the CPF grant. Now, couples can defer their assessment to three months before flat completion which would make it easier for you to get the grant.

On top of that, eligible applicants can also apply for the Staggered Downpayment Scheme which allows you to pay 5% of the down payment after the flat booking and the other 5% when you collect your keys.

Top HDB questions, answered

With the countless abbreviations, CPF grants, and schemes, there’s a whole lot to know about HDBs. Whether you’re looking to apply for one or you’ve stayed in one your whole life, it’s always good to keep yourself informed so you won’t unknowingly break a rule.

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