News: Almost 50% of public rental tenants previously owned HDB flats

Jan 15, 2019

Many public rental tenants struggle to afford a flat due to medical issues, divorce or loss of employment.

Over the past two years, an average of around 7,300 households have applied for rental flats each year, revealed the Ministry of National Development in Parliament on Monday (14 Jan).

“HDB’s public rental flats cater to households with no viable housing options or family support,” it said.

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Responding to a query from MP Zainal Sapari, the ministry said the demographic and socio-economic profile of the households was varied, with 90 percent having a household income of $1,500 or less, 40 percent were widowed or divorced, while a similar proportion were married.

Reasons cited by applicants for needing rental housing were varied, such as the inability to afford a flat due to medical issues, divorce or loss of employment.

It noted that “close to half of the households in public rental have owned an HDB flat before”.

Meanwhile, the most common reasons why public rental applications are denied include not meeting the citizenship requirement, having sufficient budget to acquire a flat or having family support for alternative accommodation.

But in the event family support is not forthcoming, the applicant will be referred by HDB to a Family Service Centre for mediation or counselling assistance.

“If mediation is unsuccessful, and the applicants cannot afford to buy a flat, HDB will be prepared to offer an interim rental or a public rental flat.”

Can you afford an HDB flat? Check your affordability now.


Romesh Navaratnarajah, Senior Editor at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email

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