Are HDB flats homes or assets?
HDB flats are intended principally for owner-occupation, and always have been meant to be homes first. At the same time, we recognise that HDB homes are an asset that can be monetised when the need arises.
The policies that HDB have introduced over the years reinforce this position. New home owners have to live in their flat for at least five years before they can sell or sublet it out; there are also restrictions on subletting by Singapore Permanent Residents (SPRs). These policies curb speculation in the HDB market and drive home the message that flats are not meant for short-term profit.
Some flat owners may need to sublet their flats to enhance their income. The subletting policy thus allows them greater flexibility to monetise their flat when needed.
Eligible elderly flat owners have the option to monetise their flat and supplement their retirement income through the Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS). Launched in 2009, the scheme allows them to live their silver years in the familiarity of their existing flat, while receiving a lifelong pay-out.
The Silver Housing Bonus (SHB) provides additional help to lower-income elderly households who right-size from a larger flat to a smaller flat, and use their net sale proceeds to enhance their retirement income. This would work well for the elderly whose children have moved out to their own homes, and the additional rooms are no longer needed.
Through our policies, HDB thus allows owners to unlock the value of their flats to provide some supplementary income, without deviating from the primary intent of the flat as a home.