Permanent residents hit by changes

Permanent residents hit by changes

PERMANENT residents (PRs) now face unprecedented limits on their ability to buy property in Singapore.

To buy a first property, whether a private unit or a Housing Board resale flat, PRs must pay an additional 5 per cent stamp duty. If they buy a second or subsequent property, the stamp duty is an extra 10 per cent, up from the current 3 per cent more.

Also, PRs who own an HDB flat can no longer sub-let their entire flats, although they may still rent out individual rooms.

Those already sub-letting their flats can do so only until the end of the current approved period.

Finally, while Singaporean flat owners can buy a private property and keep their HDB flats too, PRs will no longer be allowed this dual ownership: On buying a private property, they must sell off their flats within six months.

The changes take effect today.

PRs were stunned by the severe measures, which the Government, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday, had "thought hard about".

Although PRs have never been given access to new, subsidised HDB flats, this is the first time they are being "taxed" for all property purchases, private or public.

Mr Tharman said the move was "necessary, particularly because of the HDB resale market, where PRs are taking up a larger share of new buying".

While PRs own only a small proportion of HDB flats, they formed "a rising component of demand in the last year" for all forms of housing, he said.

There are 49,190 PR households that own HDB flats. Latest data show 2,142 PR-owned flats are rented out - about 5 per cent of flats approved for sub-let.

PRs last night were dismayed.

"It's not fair," said Chinese national Thomas Feng, on the new sub-let ban.

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