Cap on subletting of flats to foreigners soon

Cap on subletting of flats to foreigners soon

SINGAPORE - Up to 18 per cent of units in some Housing Board blocks are now wholly sublet to foreigners, even as the authorities are deciding on the cap to put on this figure.

This is to keep foreign enclaves from forming, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in a blog post last Friday.

"We will soon decide on an appropriate cap," he said. HDB said the board and the Ministry of National Development (MND) are aiming to finalise details soon.

The aim is to spread foreigners more evenly across the country. Now, over 35,000 units are entirely sublet to foreigners, excluding Malaysians - accounting for less than 4 per cent of all public flats.

But concentrations in certain areas drove the proportion up to 9 per cent in those neighbourhoods, "or even 18 per cent in some blocks", noted Mr Khaw.

Figures for subletting of entire flats came after HDB did an analysis of the subletting situation.

The cap will apply only to the subletting of whole flats, not to subletting of rooms, HDB said in response to queries last Friday.

Malaysians will be exempt "in view of their close cultural and historical similarities with Singaporeans", it added.

No figures were given for how many foreigners rent rooms, but in a July parliamentary reply, Mr Khaw said foreign workers renting flats or rooms form about 5 per cent of the total population in HDB flats.

The idea of a cap on units was first raised in this year's Budget debate by West Coast GRC MP Foo Mee Har.

Noting that "lifestyle differences" have caused tension between foreigners and Singaporean neighbours, she suggested a 10 per cent limit on units in each block that can be rented out to foreigners.

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