Participants want rules tightened to make flats 'more home, less asset'

Participants want rules tightened to make flats 'more home, less asset'

SINGAPORE - Most of the Singaporeans who gathered to debate the future of the Housing Board (HDB) on Thursday night wanted the rules tightened to make flats "more home, less asset".

They felt that the priority should be to meet the housing needs of Singaporeans as opposed to seeing flats as appreciating assets.

At the Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) dialogue on housing, which focused on home ownership, some participants also argued that flats should not be sub-let liberally. They should not be owned either by those who can afford private properties.

Several participants at the dialogue, held at the National Library building, added that permanent residents and new citizens should be subject to different rules than born-and-bred citizens, like a longer minimum occupation period in their flats.

Almost all did not want to see Singapore's home ownership rate fall below 80 or 90 per cent.

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who roamed the room listening in before addressing the participants, said that he was glad to see the goal of home ownership reaffirmed as a "desirable target".

"I don't think we want to walk backwards to have a day where only 20 per cent own homes and the rest are renting."

But the changes the participants advocated would come at substantial cost to other segments of Singaporeans, he said, and any shift in current HDB rules will meet resistance from those on "the other side of the coin".

He pointed specifically to retirees as a group who have "built their assets over the years".

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