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Can HDB clarify its communication policy on flat inheritance?

Following changes to a law that Parliament passed on Oct 6, flat owners may have their flats seized by the Housing Development Board (HDB) if they intentionally make misleading or false statements when transferring flat ownership. It reminds me of my recent encounter with HDB on a related issue of inherited flat ownership transfer.

The writer’s late grandmother had willed her flat to his uncle and father, both of whom went to HDB to apply for ownership transfer. But after some years, the latter found that the flat was not in his name.

The writer’s late grandmother had willed her flat to his uncle and father, both of whom went to HDB to apply for ownership transfer. But after some years, the latter found that the flat was not in his name.

Thomas Chan Hean Boon

Following legislative changes that Parliament passed on Oct 6, flat owners may have their flats seized by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) if they intentionally make misleading or false statements when transferring flat ownership.

It reminds me of my recent encounter with HDB on a related issue of inherited flat ownership transfer. 

My paternal grandmother, the sole lessee owner, passed away in December 2013. Because her HDB flat was willed to my father and uncle, they visited the HDB branch office in early 2016 to apply for an ownership transfer. 

After that visit, they presumed all necessary paperwork was done and if they were not eligible to take over ownership of the flat under HDB rules, HDB would inform them to sell the flat. 

No such letter from HDB came, so they assumed there was no issue with the transfer of flat ownership to their names.

Lately, seeing that the HDB resale prices seem to be trending upwards despite the ongoing pandemic, my father planned to discuss with my uncle on putting the flat up for sale. 

At the same time, he logged into My HDBPage portal wanting to obtain a copy of the flat ownership details. 

He was shocked to learn that he is not the co-owner of the inherited flat, after all these years.

I did a property ownership search and realised that the flat is currently vested in my uncle’s name as the executor of his mother’s will and estate. 

This phase is known as the transmission stage whereby the beneficiaries are yet to be the legal owners of the inherited flat. 

I asked HDB why it has not reminded the will executor to move from the transmission stage and go on to complete the ownership transfer or instruct the beneficiaries to sell the flat if they are not eligible to assume ownership under the HDB rules.

To my surprise, HDB said that they would not issue such a letter. If I heard the HDB officer correctly, HDB’s reasoning is that it has no legal means to do so during the transmission stage.  

I remarked that there could be many beneficiaries out there expecting a letter from HDB, especially those who believe they are ineligible to own the inherited flat or those who are not aware that there is a transmission stage in which ownership is yet to be transferred to the beneficiaries. 

The officer on the phone did not disagree with my assessment.

Could HDB explain why it is adopting such an inactive approach?  Surely a letter to remind the will executor to complete the ownership transfer or sell off the inherited flat would not have any legal implication.

Have views on this issue or a news topic you care about? Send your letter to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg with your full name, address and phone number.

Related topics

HDB flat housing Housing and Development Board

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