Lawrence Wong gives chance, divorcees need not wait 3 years to buy subsidised flats

More help for divorcees, new couples, and even those who are forever alone.

By Sulaiman Daud | March 7, 2018

If the worst befalls your marriage, at least house-hunting won’t add to your list of problems.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong announced on March 6, 2018 that the ministry will remove the rule that makes divorcees wait three years before they can buy subsidised flats.

Said Wong in Parliament, during the Committee of Supply debate:

“We hope that this will help divorced persons provide a more conducive living environment for their children, and go some way to help families through an already difficult period of transition.”

Subsidised flat for you

Previously, a 1997 rule stated that a divorced couple could only own one subsidised flat between them during the time bar.

It was first set at five years, then reduced to three years.

Wong described the “mutual consent requirement”, where both sides had to agree on who should be allowed to buy the subsidised flat.

However, this requirement was waived in 2012 for the parent with “sole care and control” of young children.

Perhaps realising that a peaceful discussion about housing might not be easy to have during a messy divorce, Wong said that following MPs requests, MND have reviewed the matter and removed the time bar “completely”.

He added:

“We will continue to do our best to help these and other groups, including single, unwed parents with children. We already exercise considerable flexibility for such appeals, as I’ve elaborated upon in previous sessions, and we will continue to do so.

We look at each case carefully, we consider what’s in the best interest of the child, and if necessary we will assist the parents…the parent and child in purchasing a flat.”

Reduced waiting time for BTO flats

There were more good news for couples who hopefully would not be divorcing anytime soon.

HDB will launch 2,000 more BTO flats next year with reduced waiting times.

This means that the total number of flats with a shorter waiting time will be more than 3,000, in addition to the 1,100 flats for Sembawang, Sengkang and Yishun estates that will be launched later this year.

Said Wong of the new BTO flats, after recounting an anecdote of a young couple who moved into a Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme flat:

“We want to do more to help young couples like them with their first home.”

Forever alone

However, Wong confirmed that the minimum age for singles hoping to buy a flat will remain at 35, as more people are still getting married below that age. Said Wong:

“I think the age of 35 is still valid today.”

He added that application rates were still high, and MND is doing their best to build more two-room Flexi flats to clear the backlog.

Wong said that singles could consider resale flats, as over the last five years, 27,000 resale flats have been sold to singles, more than those who have bought new flats.

Due to the enhancements in the Proximity Housing Grant, singles who buy a resale flat to live with their parents will get $15,000, and those who buy a resale flat to live near their parents will get $10,000.

Taken together with all the other housing grants, singles may now receive up to $60,000 to help buy resale flats. Wong said:

“I hope this will provide more options to singles in the resale market.”

You can watch his speech in full below:

Top image via screen shot of

About Sulaiman Daud

Sulaiman believes that we can be heroes, if just for one day. His favourite Doctor is Peter Capaldi's Twelve. In his spare time he writes about film, pop-culture and international politics, which you are very welcome to read here.

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