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Studios for seniors are too restrictive

The report “Woodlands ‘modern kampung’ to foster greater community bonding” (April 26, online) stated that the project includes 100 studio apartments for seniors.

Studios for seniors are too restrictive
Jack Koh Chin Guan

The report “Woodlands ‘modern kampung’ to foster greater community bonding” (April 26, online) stated that the project includes 100 studio apartments for seniors.

While the authorities have made an effort to ensure that our housing programme recognises our seniors’ needs, I feel that the studio apartment concept falls short.

The lease is 30 years, a housing loan is not allowed and the units cannot be sold in the open market.

When a unit is returned to the Housing and Development Board, it would be for a pro-rated sum based on the remaining lease, such as in the case of a buyer who dies some years later and whose spouse is under the age of 55.

A studio unit costing S$100,000 is tantamount to 30 years of S$278 in monthly rental being payable in full on the first day of the lease.

The current take-up of studio apartment projects attests to my argument and reflects an urgency to re-examine some of these rules.

To date, the take-up rates of January’s Build-to-Order selection exercises are 12.8 per cent in Bukit Batok, 15.3 per cent in Serangoon and 9.4 per cent in Jurong West (see table).

These numbers are poor, compared with the average take-up of two-room (57.5 per cent), three-room (17 per cent) and four-room flats (39.7 per cent).

A 60-year lease and resale to the HDB at market rates would be fairer to our seniors, unless there are strong grounds for such restrictive rules.

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