If you’ve already booked a flat under the Built-To-Order (BTO) scheme, the waiting time before your flat is ready ranges from three to six years. This wait can be frustrating, especially if you and your spouse are at a stage in life where you would like to move in together and begin a new chapter of your lives. This is even more true if you have a little one on the way.
Enter HDB’s Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS), which provides rental flats at below market rates to house families who need interim housing while they wait for the completion of their new HDB flats. Initially created for couples with young children, the scheme has been extended to support more family types over the years, including divorced or widowed parents with children.
The supply of PPHS flats is mostly from Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) flats, which means the flats are usually located in older housing estates.
As of 3 August 2021, HDB has announced that they would increase the supply of PPHS flats by another 800 flats, almost double the existing 840 flats. This is a much-needed response to the current situation where pandemic restrictions have caused a delay in BTO construction, leading to increased demand for interim rental housing solutions for families waiting for their BTO flats.
To qualify for a PPHS flat, applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:
– The main applicant must be at least 21 years old.
– You must have signed the Agreement for Lease of an uncompleted flat offered under the BTO or Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise; According to HDB, stocks of PPHS units are limited, so the current priority is those who have booked an uncompleted new HDB flat and not buyers of DBSS flats or EC units.
– You need to form a first-timer citizen household in the BTO/SBF application. If your PPHS flat is allocated under the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme, you must produce your original marriage certificate to the managing HDB Branch within three months from the date of allocation of the flat.
– The applicant and occupiers listed in the same application of the new HDB flat who wish to stay in the PPHS flat must not be owners of an existing HDB flat, unless they co-owners of the existing flat with other family members and are willing to relinquish their ownership in the existing flat within six months of taking possession of the PPHS flat.
– Additionally, from 4 August 2021, your household income cannot exceed $7,000.
– Priority will also be given to married couples with children aged 18 and below (including expectant parents)
To ensure the PPHS flats go to applicants with urgent housing needs, a one-year wait-out period will be imposed for those who do not select their PPHS flat after their second invitation to select a flat. This wait-out period will apply to those who had the opportunity to select a flat but did not proceed with the selection and those who did not proceed with payment after selecting a flat.
To provide applicants with a larger pool of flats to choose from, PPHS exercises will be held once every two months instead of the current monthly exercise. Applicants will have 14 days to submit their application from the start of the month when the PPHS exercise opens. This will start from the next PPHS exercise in October 2021.
Renting a PPHS Flat
How much cheaper is rent for PPHS flats? Rental rates differ based on their location and type. You are required to pay stamp fees and a 1-month rent deposit when the tenancy agreement is signed. Rent is paid though inter-bank GIRO.
As an example, rental of a 3-room PPHS flat in Jalan Bukit Merah costs $700 a month. A quick search on PropertyGuru showed that rental of 3-room flats in the same area goes from $1,900 and above. This is just an illustration of what you can expect to pay and isn’t mean to be an apple-to-apples comparison, since location, access to Wifi, utilities and other facilities vary.
Durations of availability for each PPHS site will be made known at each application exercise. Applicants are advised to select a PPHS flat with a duration that best suits their needs, otherwise, when the site is required for redevelopment before your new flat is ready, HDB may allocate you another PPHS flat, subject to availability.
Note that you are not allowed to sublet the flat or bedrooms. HDB conducts regular tenancy inspections to ensure proper occupation of the PPHS flats. Non-compliance will result in fines and other penalties.
As a tenant of the PPHS flat, you will also not be allowed to transfer to another flat. Also, if your homeownership flat sales application is cancelled, you will have to terminate the tenancy within a month of the cancellation date.
The PPHS flats will not be furnished, and only comes with basic fluorescent lightings and a water heater in the kitchen toilet. For the things that you buy or install in the flat, you can choose to remove them and bring them with you, or you could leave them for the next tenant. HDB can provide a list of companies that they can approach to lease the furniture and appliances.
Why You Might Not Really Want A PPHS Rental Flat
While the PPHS is helpful for some families, you should discuss with your prospective spouse of family whether it is something you really want.
As PPHS rental units are flats that HDB taken over through en-bloc sales, the rental units you get are quite old. Occupancy rates of these old en-bloc estates are lower, which can lead to a feeling of staying in a “ghost town”.
Depending on your needs and expectations, you might need to do renovations to make your rental unit to be ‘livable’. Things like beds, sofa, kitchen hobs, additional electrical wiring, window grilles, and other furniture and appliances are not included. The cost of buying all these would add up. Once your new flat is ready, you will also need to make arrangements to transport these furnitute and appliances.
As a young couple, you will need all the cash you can get. Though the rental is cheaper compared to market rate, a few hundred dollars over a few months can still add up to thousands of dollars that will certainly come in handy for rennovating and furnishing your actual flat, or help you with newborn expenses.
Before jumping to apply for a PPHS flat, it is worth discussing with your parents or in-laws to see if staying with them is an option. Another alternative is to find friends to rent a flat together, which allows you to defray rental costs. Doing so gives you wider options of rental flat locations and have the necessities you want.
Alternatively, you could just wait for your flat to be ready, knowing that you are saving up your precious dollars that will go to your new home!
Made Your Decision to Apply?
This article was originally published on 2 February 2018 and updated to reflect the changes to the scheme.