False addresses and P1 registration: MOE rules and Q&As on using rental addresses

The Ministry of Education (MOE) has made it clear that children who gain entry into schools through distance priority should be living "in the address used for registration during their primary school education".

As for whether pupils have to reside at the same address for all six years of their primary education, an MOE had clarified before that it will assess instances on a case-by-case basis.

There are very few proven cases of parents who use false addresses. But any parent found to have done so will be referred to the police for investigation, and the child transferred to another school.

In 2007, a lawyer was jailed for renting a condominium unit in Bukit Timah solely for the purpose of registering his child in a nearby school.

The lawyer, Tan Sok Ling, and his family, were living in Bedok in 2003 when he decided to rent a place within the 1km radius of the Bukit Timah school in order to enrol his daughter there.

He managed to find a unit at Maplewoods Condominium and paid a $1,600 monthly rent for 41/2 months from April 2003. He told the property agent that he was not going to live there but wanted to use the address.

After signing the licence agreement, he went to the Siglap Neighbourhood Police Post on July 6 that year to change his address to the Bukit Timah one when he knew that it was false.

His daughter was admitted to the school. But later that year, an MOE official lodged a police report stating that two applicants at the 2003 Primary 1 registration exercise had used the same address.

Another similar case was in 2004 in which an air stewardess was fined $1,000 for lying about her address to get her daughter into a popular Special Assistance Plan school. The girl was later transferred to a school in her neighbourhood.

For giving false information to a public servant, the maximum penalty is one year's jail and a $5,000 fine.

MOE said: "MOE takes a serious view of such alleged cases and any parent found to have provided false information during the Primary One Registration Exercise will be referred to the Police for investigation. A child who is successfully registered in a school based on false information given will be transferred to another school with available vacancies after all eligible children have been registered."

What is your view on parents "renting" their way to popular primary schools?

Here are some questions I have received at ST's Education Community on renting a property and using the address of a new property for Primary 1 registration.

Q: I intend to rent a place near a popular boys' school to gain a place there for my son. Am I allowed to use the address of a rental property as opposed to one that I own? How long must I reside in that property?

A: MOE rules state that children who gain entry into schools through distance priority should be living "in the address used for registration during their primary school education". So, you can use the address of a property you are renting provided you and your family are living there.

As to the length of stay, MOE had said before that it will look at it on a case-by-case basis.

Q: Do schools check on whether parents are indeed living at the addresses that they use for Primary 1 registration to gain priority?

A: School principals do checks when they receive complaints or when they have reason to believe that the parent used a false address.

Q: I am buying a new property along Bukit Timah Road to be near a school which I want to enrol my daughter in. Do I have to live there from the start of Primary 1? The property will only be ready in 2015.

A: The address of your new home can be used if you can produce evidence that you have bought the property.

For private property, you must produce the original sales and purchase agreement. For this year's registration exercise, the property's Temporary Occupation Permit must not be obtained after Dec 31, 2016.

In the case of a Housing Board flat, the Agreement for Lease is required. For registration this year, the delivery possession date must not be later than 31 December 2016.

In both cases, you also have to sign a letter of undertaking, which states that you will move into the new property within two years of the child starting Primary 1.

This article was first published on May 27, 2014.
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