NDR 2018: HDB flats leased for 99 years to prevent social division, says PM Lee

(Getty Images file photo)
(Getty Images file photo)

There is a “fundamental reason” that leases for HDB flats run for 99 years, after which homeowners must return their flats to the state: to be fair to future generations, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday (19 August).

Lee touched on the controversial subject during the English portion of the annual National Day Rally (NDR), which was delivered at Institute of Technical Education (ITE) Central in Ang Mo Kio. “This is the only way to recycle the land and ensure that all our descendants can buy new BTO (built-to-order) flats of their own,” said the 66-year-old.

“If instead the Government had sold you the flat on freehold, i.e. in perpetuity, sooner or later we would run out of land to build new flats for future generations…Our society would split into property owners and those who cannot afford a property. That would be most unequal, and socially divisive.”

The Prime Minister added that there is also a practical reason for not extending HDB leases: after a century, the concrete will have deteriorated in the tropical climate, while the mechanical and electrical systems would be “obsolete”. All this would translate to high maintenance costs.

“So it is better to let the leases expire, take the blocks back, demolish them and rebuild afresh…we can rebuild newer, better, more liveable flats, blocks, and townships, more suited to what our grandchildren and great- grandchildren will want to live in,” said Lee.

Lee, who was delivering his 15th NDR speech, added, “Very few of today’s HDB owners will outlive their leases.”

With Singapore’s oldest flats at 52 years old, the Housing and Development Board estimates that the scenario will only apply to less than 2 per cent of households, including those who have bought resale flats.

“And even if you have to return your old flat at the end of its lease, don’t worry, because the Government will help you get another flat to live in,” said Lee.

Related stories:

NDR 2018: More HDB flat owners to benefit from redevelopment before leases expire

NDR 2018: Eligible HDB flats to be upgraded twice over their lifespan

NDR 2018: Healthcare package launched for Singaporeans born in 1950s

NDR 2018: CHAS extended to all Singaporeans with chronic conditions

NDR 2018: 1962 water agreement with Malaysia is ‘sacrosanct’, says PM Lee

NDR 2018: Singapore to nominate hawker culture for UNESCO listing

NDR 2018: Singaporeans must manage lifestyle changes to cope with cost of living, says PM Lee

NDR 2018: Government ‘cannot completely prevent prices from increasing’, says PM Lee

LIVE BLOG: PM Lee delivers National Day Rally 2018 speech