Singapore

Ownership transfer: HDB may seize flats over false statements

Homeowners may have their flats seized by the Housing Board if they intentionally make misleading or false statements when transferring flat ownership, following legislative changes that Parliament passed yesterday.

Currently, such compulsory acquisition is allowed only when flat owners deliberately make misleading or false statements for the purchase of flats, and not for the transfer of flat ownership.

Another change made to the Housing and Development Act will allow approved banks to pledge property loans involving HDB flats as collateral for liquidity from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

This is part of a pre-emptive move announced by MAS last month when it launched a Singapore-dollar term facility to provide liquidity to local banks through the inclusion of a wider range of collateral.

This allows banks and finance companies in Singapore to gain access to more funds if they run into liquidity problems due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Presenting the Bill for debate, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee assured HDB flat owners that they will not be "adversely impacted".

"This arrangement will neither affect flat owners' rights to their flats nor result in any change to the terms and conditions of their housing loans," he said.

Flat owners will continue to service housing loans with the approved financial institution.

"In the highly unlikely scenario where an approved financial institution defaults on its loan from MAS, MAS will take over the residential property loans and HDB flat owners will be asked to redirect their loan repayments to another approved financial institution appointed by MAS," said Mr Lee.

On the HDB's extended powers to seize flats from owners who made misleading or false statements, Ms Nadia Samdin (Ang Mo Kio GRC) asked if that would "excessively penalise" flat owners who may be innocent and unaware of the misrepresentation of facts.

Mr Lee said the HDB will investigate each case thoroughly before initiating acquisition.

Property