Thursday, 28 November 2013

Illegal HDB subletting offences fall by 89%

Harsh penalties led number of cases to decrease from 63 in 2011 to seven this year
By Sumita D/O Sreedharan, TODAY, 26 Nov 2013

The prospect of facing a heavy fine for anyone found to be subletting his subsidised rental flat illegally has put the brakes on such offences, with the number of cases plummeting from 63 in 2011 to seven, an 89 per cent drop, so far this year.

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) attributed the fall to a S$5,000 fine for offenders, which took effect in October 2010.

Besides the financial penalty, all tenants and essential occupiers who are found to be subletting their rental flats illegally will also be banned from purchasing or renting any HDB flat for 10 years.

Authorised occupiers are banned from the same for five years.

HDB said its rental flats are heavily subsidised and meant for needy families without other housing options and family support and thus, the subletting of these flats, whether wholly or partially, is “an abuse of government subsidies”.

“(We) take such abuse seriously and will not hesitate to recover the rental flat and re-allocate the unit to another family in genuine need,” it added.

Subsidised HDB flats are rented out at S$26 to S$275 per month, depending on the size of the unit, household income and whether the tenant is a first- or second-timer.

In one of the cases this year, a tenant had illegally sublet his two-room flat in Circuit Road at 25 times the rent being paid to the HDB.

He had applied with a friend under the Joint Singles Scheme in 1998. Checks later revealed that the tenant had rented out the two-room unit for S$1,100 per month. The subsidised rental that tenants were paying was S$44.

In another case, a family was found to be subletting their subsidised Upper Boon Keng flat illegally at S$800 a month.

They had been renting it from the HDB at S$61 a month since 1981. Both flats were recovered by the HDB and the offenders fined and barred from purchasing or renting an HDB flat for 10 years.

As the HDB will be supplying a further 10,000 rental flats by 2017, it said it plans to step up enforcement measures and strengthen public education regarding tenancy fraud.

It also encouraged residents to report suspected cases of unauthorised subletting for investigation.

New rental flat tenants will also receive an advisory note on subletting rules and the serious consequences of illegal subletting, and channels will be provided for them to report on cases of unauthorised subletting.

The 10,000 units will be built all over the island and bring the total number of rental flats up to 60,000.

Estates where the new rental flats are being built include Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang, Punggol, Sengkang, Sembawang, Woodlands and Yishun.

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