SINGAPORE - More tenants under the Housing Board's subsidised rental scheme are purchasing a flat of their own.
Last year, 750 of them bought their first homes during new flat launches, said the HDB. This was a quarter more than the 600 the year before. In 2012, the number was 530.
Since 2011, about 2,500 tenants have managed to afford a place of their own.
Under the HDB's Public Rental Scheme, needy families with a household income under $1,500 are provided with rental flats at highly subsidised rates.
Rentals for one- and two-room flats start at $26 and $44 a month, respectively, with each tenancy lasting for two years.
After the lease ends, the HDB reviews whether it should be renewed. Tenants who are financially stable are encouraged to consider buying a flat.
Eligible tenants can get government housing grants of up to $60,000 when buying their first HDB flat.
They can also get help under the Tenants Priority Scheme, which sets aside 10 per cent of the new two- and three-room flat supply quota for them.
Mr Muhammad Faizal Johari, 27, recently made the switch from being under the Public Rental Scheme to owning a flat.
The father of three boys, who runs a catering business, and his wife had been renting a one-room flat at York Hill in Outram for seven years.
"There was no space for us at my parents' home, and at that point (seven years ago), we couldn't afford a flat," said Mr Muhammad Faizal.
As the sole breadwinner, he used to take home between $800 and $1,100 a month working odd jobs.
But he eventually started the catering business with his parents and saved up enough to apply for a four-room Build-To-Order (BTO) flat in 2010.
The Bukit Panjang unit, which he and his family moved into last December, cost $248,000, after a $10,000 housing grant from the HDB. "I really wanted a property for my sons so they will have a place to call their own," he said.
There are now about 50,000 rental units in Singapore, or about 5 per cent of the total stock of 960,000 flats.
Waitress Tay Lian Eng, 50, bought and moved into a two- room BTO unit in Bukit Panjang last year.
She had previously rented a one-room flat in Bukit Merah for about 20 years.
"It has always been my wish to buy my own flat," said Ms Tay, who lives with her 24-year-old daughter.
"When I'm gone, at least my daughter will have a place over her head. I will be less worried."
This article was first published on Feb 22, 2015.
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