Singapore

HDB rule change for non-Malaysians on work permit

Since Jan 1, non-M'sian work permit holders from manufacturing sector can no longer rent entire HDB flat

Since Jan 1, non-Malaysian work permit holders from the manufacturing sector have no longer been eligible to rent a whole Housing Board flat and can only rent rooms.

Those currently renting can stay on until their existing subletting approvals - which lasts a maximum of 1.5 years for non-Malaysian foreigners - expire.

The rule change, reported Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao yesterday, affects about 3.5 per cent of Housing Board households which are subletting all or part of their flats.

It is unclear how many households this represents.

As of Sept 30, there were 52,394 wholly sublet HDB flats.

The HDB does not release figures on the number of flats that are partially sublet.

On June 1 last year, the HDB sent a letter to flat owners who were subletting their flats to non-Malaysian manufacturing work permit holders "to inform them of the change, so that they would have time to make the necessary preparations".

In response to queries, the HDB said: "This revision in subletting conditions is part of the Government's longer term plan to house non-Malaysian work permit holders in purpose-built dormitories and approved workers' quarters with facilities to better cater to their needs."

This revision in subletting conditions is part of the Government’s longer term plan to house non-Malaysian work permit holders in purpose-built dormitories and approved workers’ quarters with facilities to better cater to their needs. HDB

Work permits are for semi-skilled foreign workers in the construction, manufacturing, marine and service sectors.

Since Nov 7, 2006, non-Malaysian work permit holders from the construction sector have not been able to sublet HDB flats or rooms.

This was extended to the marine and process sectors from May 1, 2015.

Now, only non-Malaysian work permit holders in the service sector can rent whole flats.

Asked if the rules will be changed for them too, HDB only said it "reviews its rules regularly to maintain the balance between the needs of flat owners and subtenants".

The HDB said Malaysian work permit holders can still rent HDB flats and rooms "due to the close historical and cultural similarities between Malaysians and Singaporeans".

The change is unlikely to have much impact, said employers.

Some firms house workers in dormitories.

Mr John Kong, who is the managing director of M Metal and a council member of the Singapore Manufacturing Federation, said most firms which do not house workers in dormitories are not involved in their workers' housing choice.

OrangeTee property agent Aaron Hong said in his experience, work permit holders from the service sector - in retail, for instance - are more common as tenants.

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