Monday, June 1, 2009

Before you sublet your HDB apartment

HDB flats sold under the Home Ownership Scheme are meant for owner-occupation by the owners and their families. However, flat owners may sublet their whole flat or spare rooms if they meet the eligibility conditions.

To sublet the whole flat, prior approval from HDB is needed. For subletting of rooms, no approval from HDB is required but flat owners must continue to live in the flat during the period of subletting and comply with other subletting conditions.

To avoid committing the offence of harbouring immigration offenders, we advise flat owners to check and ensure that their foreign subtenants are legally allowed to stay in Singapore when subletting their whole flat or rooms.


Eligibility of Flat Owners

You have satisfied a 3-year or 5-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP)

You are allowed to sublet your whole flat if :
• You have occupied your non-subsidised flat (flat purchased from the open market without a CPF housing grant) for at least 3 years; or
• You have occupied your subsidised flat (flat purchased directly from HDB or from the open market with a CPF housing grant) for at least 5 years.

If you do not meet the MOP for subletting, you are still allowed to sublet your whole flat if you fall under any one of the following circumstances :

You are living in quarters provided by employer
• You/your spouse, your family members or authorised occupiers, are all staying in quarters provided by your employers.

You are going overseas to work or study
• You/your spouse are going overseas to work or study and the entire family will be going along, or you are leaving behind family members who cannot take care of themselves and who will be moving out of the flat.

You are living in commercial properties
• You/your spouse are tenants, subtenants or owners of commercial property with living quarters and you have to stay there, with your family members, to look after the business.

Other circumstances
• You are the sole owners and occupiers of the flats and need care from relatives because of illness; or
• You are the sole owners and occupiers of the flat and are hospitalised for more than six months; or
• The flat owners have passed away and left behind an orphaned minor child (i.e. child under 21 years of age). The guardian or public trustee of the minor child may sublet the whole flat.

Eligibility of Subtenants

Permitted Subtenants

a. Singapore citizens;
b. Singapore permanent residents;
c. Non-citizens legally residing in Singapore [holders of Employment Passes, S Passes, Work Permits, Student Passes, Dependant Passes, Professional Visit Passes, Long Term Social Visit Passes (6 months and above)].

Non-Permitted Subtenants

a. Non-Malaysian foreign construction workers;
b. Owners or tenants of existing HDB flats, except for
• owners/tenants who are divorced/legally separated. However, only one of the divorced/legally separated parties is eligible to be a subtenant;
• owners who are eligible to sublet their whole HDB flat. However, (i) they must sublet their own flat within one month after they have rented an HDB flat from other flat owner or (ii) they are not able to rent out their own flat as there are other occupiers remaining behind;
c. Owners of existing Executive Condominium units where the 5-year minimum occupation period has not been met.

Corporate Subtenants

Owners may sublet their flat to a corporate body to house its employees. However, they must :
a. ensure that the company allows only persons who meet the eligibility conditions of subtenants to stay in the flat (hereinafter referred to as the occupiers);
b. provide the particulars of the occupiers in the subletting application form;
c. ensure that only authorised occupiers who are registered with HDB are staying in the flat;
d. ensure that non-citizen occupiers have lawfully entered Singapore and are lawfully allowed to remain in Singapore;
e. ensure that the occupiers comply with all the terms and conditions of subletting; and
f. ensure that the occupiers vacate the premises upon termination of subletting or in the event that the subletting approval is revoked by HDB.

Maximum Number of Subtenants

The maximum number of subtenants allowed in each flat is :
• 4 persons for 1-room and 2-room flats
• 6 persons for 3-room flats
• 9 persons for 4-room and bigger flats

Terms & Conditions

Validity Period of Subletting

Permission to sublet is granted for a maximum period of 3 years subject to review. For subletting under the reason of overseas employment or study, the permission to sublet is granted for the entire duration of owners' stay overseas. Consent may be revoked at any time by HDB giving 2 weeks notice.

Flat Owners’ Responsibilities

As a flat owner subletting your flat, you will be responsible for:
• making sure the flat is sublet to eligible subtenants only
• making sure that there is no over crowding and that the number of subtenants does not exceed the maximum number allowed
• making sure that your subtenants have entered and are remaining in Singapore lawfully at all times while the subletting is in force
• making sure that your subtenants do not further sublet the flat to other persons
• making sure that your subtenants comply with all the covenants in the lease and the provisions of the Housing & Development Act and be responsible for all infringements committed by them
• informing the Comptroller of Property Tax of the subletting, and HDB of any changes in the subletting
• resuming occupation of your flat and ensuring your subtenants vacate the premises when the subletting is terminated or when you are no longer eligible to sublet your flat
• surrendering the flat in the event that the flat is repossessed by the HDB

Withdrawal of Service & Conservancy Charge (S&CC) Rebate

As part of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) offset package, the Government extended the Service & Conservancy Charge (S&CC) rebate to eligible citizen households for five years from 1 Apr 2007 to 31 Mar 2012. However, lessees who sublet their flat will not be eligible for the rebate during the period of subletting.

Period of Subletting

The period of subletting of the flat will NOT be included in computing the requisite occupation period/time bar to determine owner's eligibility to :
• resell flat in the open market
• invest in private residential properties
• apply for a second flat directly from HDB

Owners who have sublet their flats will have to satisfy the full requisite occupation period/time bar specified by HDB before they are eligible for any of the above.



Question:

I would like to sublet my whole flat. Do I need to get approval from HDB?

Answer:

Yes, you must get written approval from HDB before subletting your whole flat. The only charge HDB levies is the one-time administrative charge of $20/- for each subletting application.

HDB owners who wish to sublet their flats are required to submit an application to HDB for approval.

For subletting under the two categories below, application must be submitted online at www.hdb.gov.sg/subletting :

Category K – Flat owners who have occupied their non-subsidised flat (flat purchased from the open market without a CPF housing grant) for at least 3 years;

Category L – Flat owners who have occupied their subsidised flat (flat purchased directly from the HDB or from the open market with a CPF housing grant) for at least 5 years.
However, this does not apply to cases where owners are overseas and their Attorney is submitting the subletting application on their behalf. For these cases, the Attorney is required to submit the application personally to the HDB Branch Office managing the flat (for the appointment of an Attorney, owners have to consult their own solicitors).

Applications for subletting of flat under other categories may be submitted online or personally to the HDB Branch Office managing the flat.

Regardless of the mode of submission, the applications must be submitted together with the required supporting documents (e.g. Doctor’s certification of illness, Power of Attorney).

Question:

I have an outstanding HDB or Bank loan. Can I still sublet my flat?

Answer:
Regardless of their mortgage loan status, owners may sublet their flat if they have met the minimum occupation period.
Flat owners who meet the eligibility requirements and who concurrently own a private property, are allowed to stay in the private property and sublet the HDB flat.

Question:

Do I need to find a tenant first before I get approval?

Answer:
So long as the conditions are met, a tenant's particulars is required during online submissions before approval is given. The approval given is immediate but "effective date for lease" can be up to 2 weeks later.
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