Obstacles cleared for young couples who want flats
New conditions for flat applications will reduce waiting time to 2 to 3 years
More young couples will now find it easier to apply for build-to-order (BTO) flats, with shorter wait times for key collection and deferment of income assessment for housing grants and loans.
In his speech at the Committee of Supply debate yesterday, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong outlined plans to unveil BTO flats with shorter waiting times.
Construction for these flats are brought forward, before applications come in, so that waiting time can be reduced from three to four years to two to three years.
Some 3,000 such flats will be launched by 2019, 1,100 of which will be launched for sale later this year in Sembawang, Sengkang and Yishun.
Couples who are full-time students or National Servicemen (NSFs), or couples who have just begun working can now also apply for BTO flats earlier.
Currently, first-timer couples who are buying new flats need at least one year of employment to apply for housing grants. They also have to remain employed at the time of their application.
If their application goes through, they will have to pay half of the flat's downpayment to secure their keys.
But from the May sales exercise this year, assessment for housing grants and loans - such as the Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) or the Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG), which can each reward couples up to $40,000 in grants - will be deferred until just before key collection.
As such, the conditions of continuous employment will only need to be fulfilled at the time of key collection.
This will help reduce the waiting time for young couples, for example, couples who are ready to apply for flats before employment in the final year of university, by at least a year.
Speaking of the changes, Mr Wong said: "Buying a flat is a serious commitment. But for young couples who have considered it carefully, I think we can exercise some flexibility to support them in their marriage and parenthood journey."
Time bar removed for divorcees
Divorced couples can look forward to more fuss-free proceedings in their search for housing.
The current time bar policy, which stipulates that only one party of a divorced couple can own a subsidised flat for the three years after the divorce, will be entirely removed.
Under the time bar policy, the divorced couple will have to mutually consent on who gets to own the subsidised flat.
Although this policy has already been waived in 2012 for divorced parties with sole care and custody of their children, it will now be removed for all divorced couples with effect from yesterday.
Member of Parliament Louis Ng was the first to bring up this issue in the Committee of Supply debate yesterday.
He said: "This consent requirement (for subsidised public housing) is difficult as the relationship is clearly strained."
Later, in the same debate, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong helped to answer the issue.
He began by outlining policies already in place to tide divorcees over their transition period.
He raised the Assist scheme which gives divorcees priority when applying for a 2- or 3-room build-to-order (BTO) flat in non-mature estates as well as the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS), which allows for divorcees to rent subsidised housing in the interim before their flat is ready.
But he agreed that the time bar is an issue that troubles divorcees.
Explaining the rationale for its removal, Mr Wong said: "We hope that this will help divorced persons provide a more conducive living environment for their children and go some way to help families through an already difficult period of transition."- JAN LEE