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Let retirees right-size but keep private property for rental income

I read with interest the article “EC vacancies signal continued HDB resale price weakness” (Nov 7).

Richard Sim

I read with interest the article “EC vacancies signal continued HDB resale price weakness” (Nov 7).

We have one group of families who could potentially end up owning two taxpayer-subsidised housing units concurrently — the newly-completed executive condominium (EC) unit that they have to move into and the Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat they currently own — because they are unable to sell their HDB flats.

These families are under pressure to sell their HDB flats as they can hold only one subsidised housing unit at a time and they are asking for an extension.

There is also a second group of families who currently own HDB flats and they have been allowed to purchase private properties because they have met the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) of five years. This group can choose to rent out their HDB flats after they have moved into their new private properties.

The third and most unfortunate group is the private property owners. Many families in this group are retirees who want to buy an HDB flat (resale) or a small EC to live in during their retirement years. But they are not allowed to do so unless they sell off their private property.

As I understand it, the Government is trying to encourage retirees to take care of themselves during their retirement. However, it is a sad thing that this group of families would not be allowed to buy a HDB flat to stay in so they could live off the rental income from their only private property. I know many who belong to this group and they feel trapped.

There appears to be differential treatment towards the second and third groups as the second group can still live in the HDB flats they currently own, buy private properties after they have met the MOP condition and then live off the rental income from their private properties.

Perhaps the Government might consider allowing the third group of families, who own only one private property, to purchase a HDB flat that they can live in.

Now that the current situation shows there are families who have upgraded to an EC or BTO and cannot sell their existing HDB flat, perhaps the HDB could consider allowing the third group of families to buy these units? It would help to alleviate the current predicament of the first group and give some relief to the third.

This change would not cause the prices of HDB flats to skyrocket as the Mortgage Servicing Ratio and Total Debt Servicing Ratio measures are in place, and this group of families are not speculators. They want only to live in an HDB flat while they live off the rental from their one private property. After all, the second group is already doing the same.

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