When you live in the world’s most expensive city where everyone sweats buckets at the thought of their next home loan repayment, it’s not unusual to see some Singaporeans crack under the pressure and get into a financial ruckus at some point. Unfortunately, sometimes ignorance and desperation can churn up a poisonous cocktail of illegal actions undertaken by those willing to go to any measure to get some financial respite.
Unlawful property activities are undoubtedly dangerous to you, but doing so in flats provided by the Housing and Development Board of Singapore is downright suicidal. Let us take an in-depth look at the top 4 property violations committed by Singaporeans that can lead to a confiscation of their HDB flat by the government:
Illegal subletting or renting out flats
The Minimum Occupancy Period or MOP of HDB flats is either three years or five years. Most of us genuinely do not know it (talk about extreme oblivion!), most of us pretend not to know it; whatever the case is, we all know it now.
If the flat is bought from the open market without any subsidies, its MOP is three years, otherwise it is five. And no, sites like Airbnb do not possess the power of creating a loophole in the law.
So next time when you are about to sublet it or rent it out, make sure you have left a three to five year deep mark on the property.
Buying private property before the MOP
This is similar to the above point, except it is not. The rule of the Minimum Occupancy Period remains the same in terms of buying private property just as it is for renting out HDB flats.
One needs to occupy the place for a minimum of three or five years depending on the above explanation. Only then do you get the freedom of buying your own property. Also, the permanent members of Singapore, more popularly known as PRs have to sell their HDB flat within six months of buying their private property.
Hence, when you find the house of your dreams, you must wait it out because all good things take time.
Renting out to illegal immigrants
If you rent out your flat to an illegal immigrant, you are committing a more heinous crime than the illegal immigrant living in your flat because you are supporting their over stay. The government does not care if the tenant really had nowhere else to go or if they are really nice people, the government also does not care if you did not know that they were illegal immigrants or if the agent failed to do their work as the agent and did not find out the residency status of that person. You are going to be blamed for it and are going to pay the price of either being nice or ignorant.
That is why when you are renting out your HDB flat; you must thoroughly verify the identity of the person you are renting it out to. You may verify their identity through the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority or the ICA.
Deliberately Stop Payments
The sound of an HDB flat undoubtedly sounds very charitable but it is not. It just makes the government look good. Yes, the government gives you more leeway if you cannot repay your loan and gives you more time to repay it or work out an alternative payment scheme. But this lenient behavior does not last forever.
After a point, and that point comes really soon, the government might just repossess the flat. It will also encourage us to downgrade our ‘mansion’ further into a rat’s hole, i.e., an apartment with no rooms. And banks do not provide any solution in difficult times. Even they repossess flats if one fails to pay them. Their loans might be a bit cheaper but they are not cheap. Basically, if you cannot pay, you need to be ready to live in a downgraded apartment.
Now we know the various ways in which our flats can be repossessed. Unless it is a financial situation, we do have the power to protect our HDB flats from the government. Hence, let us not find excuses as to why our flats got repossessed and stick to the laws, unless and until we can change them.
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