WHEN Madam Muhainah Md Salleh sold her Housing Board flat in September, she was prepared to rent it back from the buyer while waiting for her new unit to be renovated.
But the 55-year-old civil servant did not have to after all, thanks to a relaxed rule which allows HDB flat sellers to negotiate with their buyers for a temporary extension of stay in their flats.
As at the end of October, 645 flat sellers, including Madam Muhainah, have requested to stay for longer in their old flats, said the HDB.
The rule was relaxed on July 22 to help sellers who might need more time to refurbish their new flats, or who might be awaiting funds from the sale of their current units.
"This gives me more than enough time to renovate my new flat," said Madam Muhainah, who lives in her three-room Yishun flat with her 46-year-old security guard husband, maid and three grandchildren.
The family will be moving to a four-room flat a few blocks away, but had to repaint the place and retile the kitchen and bathrooms. The renovation will be done only at the end of this month.
"It is good that the buyer was not in a hurry to move in," she said. "I can save some money by not renting the place."
Under the new practice, both the flat buyer and seller have to agree to the temporary extension, which can go up to three months.
The extension request must be submitted to the HDB along with the resale application. By then, the seller must have already committed to buy a completed home, public or private.
Private arrangements, such as the duration of the extension and any monetary compensation, must also be mutually agreed to by both parties.
Previously, sellers had to move out once the sale was completed, and similar arrangements, if any, had to be made under the table.
PropNex Realty chief executive Mohamed Ismail Gafoor said he is "not surprised" that many HDB sellers have opted to extend their stay.
"It only goes to show how many people took the risk by going into mutual agreements when this was not legal," he said. "HDB did not recognise these arrangements, and there was no redress if anything went wrong. For example, a buyer might change his mind about the extension - this has happened many a time."
The HDB estimates that about 15 per cent of total resale transactions, or 2,700 households a year, will benefit from this new practice.
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