Thursday 16 February 2012

HDB for divorced parents

HDB rules incorporate flexibility

THE Government is committed to meeting the housing needs of Singaporeans, offering a wide range of housing options and subsidies ('Ease flat buying rules for divorced parents' by Ms Vannessa Lee, last Wednesday; and 'HDB can be more flexible' by Ms Cecilia Low, Monday). There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and the HDB does exercise flexibility to help residents on a case-by-case basis.

The HDB will be contacting Ms Lee and Ms Low to better understand their situations, and see how best we can assist them.

Chan-Wong Jee Choo Lily (Mrs)
Deputy Director (Policy and Property)
Housing & Development Board
ST Forum, 15 Feb 2012

HDB can be more flexible

I AGREE with Ms Vannessa Lee ('Ease flat buying rules for divorced parents'; last Wednesday) and empathise with her mother's predicament.

I am a single parent and my recent attempts at seeking help from the HDB to downgrade has convinced me of the unremitting inflexibility of HDB rules.

While my situation is not specifically the same as Ms Lee's, we suffer from the same situation of being penalised on top of our misfortune.

Cecilia Low (Ms)
ST Forum, 13 Feb 2012

Ease flat buying rules for divorced parents

AFTER my parents divorced in 1996, my mother bought a four-room flat in Woodlands the next year. Although she preferred Aljunied where she worked, Woodlands was the only affordable location for her as a single parent with two young children.

Subsequently, we lived in rented flats in Aljunied, defraying the cost by renting out our flat in Woodlands. For the past 18 months, we have been trying to buy a flat in Aljunied and are prepared to downgrade to a three-room unit in the process. But Housing Board rules and the resale market reality are penalising my mother for the divorce, effectively preventing us from buying a flat.

Because of the divorce, my mother was forced to buy a second home (the Woodlands flat), thereby using up the second and final chance of buying a flat directly from the HDB.

A direct purchase is the only affordable option for my family. But this is not the only unfair obstacle my family faces:

A single parent cannot afford an HDB flat, which is priced for families in which both spouses work. Moreover, HDB currently charges 2.6 per cent interest on its loans. Without financial aid, a single parent is consigned to a lifetime of debt.

Buying a second home from the HDB because of a divorce should be treated as a separate matter from a family nucleus (two adults) buying a second HDB home. More should be done to protect the housing needs of such families after a divorce.

I question paying the broker 2 per cent commission for selling a flat, and 1 per cent for buying one, as well as goods and services tax, when my family has barely enough to buy a smaller unit in current market conditions. If the sales process had been simpler, I would have gladly handled it myself and saved $12,000.

Finally, why must we pay stamp duty for downgrading to a three-room HDB flat?

The Government should set up a division to help on a case-by-case basis the elderly, the illiterate and single-parent families who have a genuine need to relocate.

They should not be left at the mercy of housing agents in the free market. The downgrading process should also be made simpler and less costly for citizens.

Vannessa Lee (Ms)
ST Forum, 8 Feb 2012

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