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Lease Buyback Scheme to be extended to all HDB flats, including 5-room and larger ones: Lawrence Wong

SINGAPORE — The Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS) for Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats will be extended to cover five-room units and larger ones, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, as the Government announced concrete moves to help seniors unlock the value of their flats for retirement.

Lease Buyback Scheme to be extended to all HDB flats, including 5-room and larger ones: Lawrence Wong

The authorities are also looking to review and update the rules so as to provide more flexibility for those who want to use their Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings to purchase older flats.

SINGAPORE — The Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS) for Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats will be extended to cover five-room units and larger ones, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, as the Government announced concrete moves to help seniors unlock the value of their flats for retirement.

The authorities are also looking to review and update the rules so as to allow buyers to use more of their Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings to purchase older flats.

In a blog post on Monday (Aug 20), the minister referred to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally speech the night before, during which Mr Lee sketched out plans to systematically upgrade older HDB flats, and progressively renew and rebuild older HDB towns.

“These are long-term plans which will be implemented over several decades. Meanwhile, MND will be making several shorter-term moves to help seniors unlock the value of their HDB flats for retirement,” said Mr Wong, who heads the Ministry of National Development (MND). 

Mr Wong said the LBS is a “good scheme” but it applies only to those living in four-room or smaller HDB flats.

Under the LBS, elderly homeowners can sell part of the tail end of the leases of their HDB flats to the Government for income.

The original rational for confining the scheme to four-room or smaller HDB flats was because the Government thought it would make more sense for those living in bigger flats to right-size and move into smaller units, he noted.

“But there are seniors who prefer to age in place. Some also have grandchildren who come over to visit regularly, and would like a bigger space for the extended family,” he said.

“After considering the matter carefully, I have decided to extend the LBS to all HDB flats, including five-room and larger flats. This will enable many more Singaporeans to benefit from the scheme.”

The minister noted that many seniors currently choose to rent out a spare bedroom for extra income.

Others prefer to sell their existing flats, right-size to smaller units, and enjoy the Silver Housing Bonus (SHB), he said. The SHB was introduced to help lower-income elderly household supplement their retirement income when they purchase a smaller unit.

To facilitate right-sizing, the Ministry of National Development (MND) is also looking at ways to improve the liquidity of the resale market for older flats, he added.

He said that CPF savings can currently be used to purchase older HDB flats. But this is subject to certain restrictions.

“These rules are meant to ensure that buyers purchase a home for life, without compromising their retirement savings.”

Noting that there is scope to provide more flexibility for buyers of shorter-lease flats while safeguarding their retirement adequacy, Mr Wong added that MND is working with the CPF Board to review and update the rules.

He added: “The Government is making significant moves on housing to prepare for the future responsibly.”

He said that these moves are the result of many months of intensive study by MND and HDB. The agencies have also been gathering feedback and views from Singaporeans, he said.

“We have provided a broad outline of the key changes over the coming years and decades. Much work still lies ahead to flesh out the policies and work through the implementation details,” said Mr Wong.

“We will continue to engage and consult Singaporeans in this process, to pool our ideas, and translate the plans into reality.”

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