With HDB resale flat prices at a high and close to 100,000 previous BTO flats fulfilling their Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) from 2020 to 2023, I’m sure many owners of these freshly MOP-ed flats have thought of selling their homes for a profit. And if you’re thinking of getting a leg up on your neighbours, you might be toying with the idea of appealing to waive your MOP to sell your flat early.
I know this because I was one of these BTO flat owners. My BTO flat hit the five-year mark in 2023 and I sold my MOP flat to buy a resale condo. But prior to that, I tried to go around the HDB MOP rules by appealing to waive the Minimum Occupation Period.
So, before we get on further with today’s article, let me preface this by saying: don’t.
*The author of this article has chosen to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of this article.
Follow HDB MOP Rules: If You’re Not A Genuine Case, Don’t Waste Your Time
We do not encourage or promote appealing to HDB to waive the Minimum Occupation Period if you do not have a valid reason. As much as possible, follow the HDB MOP rules. Why? Because if you’re ‘trying your luck’ to waive your MOP, not only will you be wasting your time, but also that of others’ too. You’re also wasting resources that should be channelled to genuine cases instead.
What constitutes a genuine case then? According to this response by the Ministry of National Development, about 5,000 approvals (as of 2021) were given for the waiver of the MOP. Reasons for cases that were improved include “financial hardship, divorce, or the demise of the owner”. If you have clear evidence of the above, it is likely that HDB will seriously consider your case and you have a good chance of getting approval.
That said, it’s worth remembering that these decisions are all at the discretion of HDB and whether or not you have a strong case can be subjective. Often, it’s quite a grey area.
In my case, I needed to move back in with (or nearer to) my parents for personal and medical reasons. I won’t focus too much on my very specific and unique example because it is confidential and it won’t be too helpful anyway.
But all you need to know is this: I have tried and failed to appeal multiple times since the third year of living in my flat. At the time of writing (May 2023), I’m literally weeks away from my actual MOP date. It’s been almost two years and I’m still in correspondence with HDB.
5 HDB Appeal Tips and Things I Learnt from Trying to Waive My HDB MOP
As an act of community service, I have compiled my learnings from my long, drawn-out HDB appeal. At this point of the article, if you still are determined to submit a waiver for the HDB MOP rules, then I will be fully candid – it has been ridiculously tedious. Prepare yourself.
1. Property Agents Cannot Submit An Appeal On Your Behalf
As my flat approached its fifth year – aka MOP year– I started to get knocks on my door from property agents advertising their services. Since the exact MOP date depends on when you actually collect your keys and is hence different for every household (even in the same development), I had to explain that my MOP was still many months away.
In response, many agents tried to convince me by saying that they are very experienced and previously helped many others to appeal the Minimum Occupation Period before. They said that if I gave them exclusivity to sell my unit, they would “help me appeal”.
Initially, I thought this was truly a value-added service. However, I soon realised that property agents cannot submit an appeal on your behalf. They can, at most, help you brainstorm ideas and advise you on how to frame your MOP appeal, but you must submit it yourself through My HDBPage.
2. Follow Up by Calling the HDB Hotline
After you submit your appeal (what HDB will refer to as a “correspondence”), HDB will assign you a case officer. Typically, this will take about a week. Thereafter, the assigned case officer could take two weeks or longer to reply, with either an outcome or a request for more information.
In my experience, every round of my appeals received a loosely templated rejection letter.
If you have an urgent case and want to speed things up, you can actually call them up. You can only call the general hotline (see details below), but from there, they can check on your case. I recommend you only call after you have a case officer assigned, otherwise, it won’t be very fruitful.
During this call, you can request a reply or a call back from your case officer. I’ve asked a few times to be redirected to the officer’s line directly, but they always say the officer is unavailable or engaged at the moment.
A call back from your assigned case officer is very important. This is when you can fully explain your case and help your officer understand how they can help you.
HDB Hotline Details
Sales/Resale Customer Service Line: 1800-866-3066
Operating hours: 8am to 5pm
Tip: The operator advises that the best time to call is before 10am. I tried that and it is really true. I found my waiting time to be reduced significantly!
3. If You Have Medical Reasons, Provide a Doctor’s Letter or Other Supporting Documents
As with skipping PE class and well, getting exempted from almost everything in life, a doctor’s letter or report is very powerful. If you have a medical reason for needing to sell your flat or move out before the Minimum Occupation Period, providing a medical report on your condition could make your case a lot more compelling.
If it is not as straightforward and there is no report or tests to show as proof, you could ask your doctor to write a memo to explain the complexities of your situation.
For example, if your elderly parents need caregiving help and you want to sell your flat to move back in with them and improve your family’s financial situation, perhaps your doctor can explain clearly why your parents need physical assistance. If you need the money, you may also provide some examples of the costly medical bills.
4. Otherwise, Try Speaking to Your MP
If your case is not a medical one, but you are facing some personal challenges or hardships, you can speak to your constituency’s Member of Parliament (MP). You will be able to find this information on your town council’s website, and there is usually a schedule for their Meet-the-People sessions where you can speak with them in person. You’ll also find other contact information (e.g. email address and/or WhatsApp number) if you prefer those channels.
Additionally, I learnt that your MP can actually submit the appeal on your behalf! Once they fully understand your case, they will ask for your personal details (e.g. full name, NRIC, residential address, etc) and do the necessary. If the first round is unsuccessful, you can ask for help to re-appeal your case.
5. Successfully Waiving Your MOP Is Harder If You’re Too Far Away from MOP
As mentioned, I first started writing to HDB when I was about three years into living in my flat. At that point, I was confident of receiving an MOP waiver because it was my very first appeal and my district MP had submitted the appeal on my behalf. Unfortunately, I was promptly rejected.
Years later, when I spoke to several property agents, they told me the most successful cases were around six months or less from the MOP date. To ‘verify’ this, I spent some time looking at HDB resale statistics. And indeed, most of the newer resale flats transacted were at most around 4+ years old. Only very few had over 96 years left on the lease.
This makes sense: a key objective of the MOP is to prevent owners from flipping their flats for profit. Flats with over 95 years left on their lease will inevitably command a premium as they are considered to be ‘rare gems’.
Follow HDB MOP Rules, No Point Trying to ‘Game’ the System
While there are certainly some tips you can leverage to get in quicker contact with HDB and make your case known, my biggest learning from this HDB appeal process is to just be genuine.
Since I got in contact with my case officer, we have had countless phone calls and written exchanges to clarify every aspect of my situation. They have requested evidence of everything, from my household’s financial information to photos of the flat’s current condition (to show that it has been lived in).
So, you can definitely trust HDB to do their due diligence and conduct rigorous checks to make sure you are not frivolously trying to waive your MOP for profit.
Also, frustrating as the process may be, always be kind and respectful to your case officer. They are just doing their jobs and believe it or not – most of them are compassionate people who truly want to help you. With that, all the best!
For more property news, content and resources, check out PropertyGuru’s guides section.
Looking for a new home? Head to PropertyGuru to browse the top properties for sale in Singapore.
Need help financing your latest property purchase? Let the mortgage experts at PropertyGuru Finance help you find the best deals.