New measures for above-35 singles to buy selected HDB flats: Khaw

New measures are introduced to allow above-35 singles to be able to purchase selected HDB flats (Yahoo! file photo)

Singles aged 35 and above, earning $5,000 and below, will be able to buy new two-room flats directly from the Housing Development Board (HDB) beginning July this year.

The news was announced by Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament Friday as Budget debates continue.

The new two-room flats will be only available for singles in non-mature estates, between 35 to 45 square metres. Khaw said that the measure would probably be launched at the Sengkang precinct.

“Firefighting for first-timers is over… but it is still uncomfortable, I know,” said Khaw in Parliament. “We’ll do all we can to prevent property bubbles.”

Quotas for second-time buyers in non-mature estates will double to 30 per cent, of which a tenth of this will be reserved for widows and divorcees with children below 16. These quotas will apply for two-room and three-room flats.

To further assist divorcees who face debarment from subsidized flats, the period will be shortened from 5 years to 3.

The second-time buyer quota increment will be applied in the Build-to-Order (BTO) launch in May.

All married couples eligible for rental flats

Also announced were measures to extend the eligibility of direct-from-HDB flats to couples who are already married but do not have children yet.

All married HDB first-timers, with or without children, will now be able to rent rental flats provisionally under the Parenthood Priority Housing Scheme (PPHS). This is set to take into effect from the May BTO launch onwards.

Khaw promised that such married couples will be eligible for an interim flat under the scheme. However, he said that if a shortage in housing occurs in the future, priority will go to couples will children. More details are expected from HDB at the April BTO launch.

“We’ll do more to reduce BTO prices relative to income,” said Khaw.

Foreigner restrictions and elderly schemes

To avoid enclaves to be formed by foreigners in HDB flats, Khaw announced plans to impose a quota on the number of flats rented out to foreigners, although he admitted he was still undecided on the percentage.

Non-Malaysian non-citizens will now have to renew their tenancy agreements every 1.5 years, shorter than the current 3-year subletting period for flats and rooms. Malaysians are excluded as Khaw believes they have less difficulty integrating. This measure will take place with immediate effect.

Khaw also announced a new Studio Apartment Priority Scheme, where half of the supply of new studio apartments will be reserved for seniors who buy flats near their current flat or those of their children.

Khaw expects an additional 63,000 housing units – made up of HDB flats and non-landed private housing units – to be made in 2016 to cater to growing demand. This is some 13,000 units more than the expected number of housing units to be made next year.

With Nurul Azliah Aripin reporting from Parliament