MND studying how to provide more temporary housing for buyers of delayed BTOs

More details will be provided "when ready", the ministry said.

Nigel Chua | July 06, 2021, 10:40 AM

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The Ministry of National Development (MND) said on July 5 that it was looking into increasing the supply of temporary housing for flat buyers who were affected by delays in the construction of Build-to-Order (BTO) projects.

More details will be provided "when ready", the ministry said, responding via written reply to multiple Parliamentary Questions from various Members of Parliament.

MND acknowledged that BTO project delays have caused "inconvenience to flat buyers", and said that the Housing and Development Board (HDB) was working to ensure that construction work was expedited, without compromising quality and safety standards.

Flat buyers encouraged to find alternative housing

In the meantime, MND said that flat buyers are "encouraged to find alternative housing arrangements".

These include:

  • Living with family members or relatives;
  • Applying for temporary housing under the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS) for first-timer applicants; and
  • Finding housing on the open market (i.e. purchasing private property, or resale flats).

MND said that it was "considering how to fine-tune allocation" of the "limited supply of PPHS flats", so that it can prioritise families in "greater need".

"We are also studying ways to increase the supply of temporary housing to better support affected flat buyers in need of housing," MND said in its written reply.

"We will provide more details on these measures when ready," the ministry added.

Will BTO buyers who cancel their bookings have to forfeit money or grants?

Some BTO buyers may not be able to wait for their BTOs to be ready, given the construction delays.

This means that they will have to cancel their BTO flat booking, and forfeit either their option fee, or five per cent of the flat purchase price.

They will also have to wait for a one-year period before being able to apply for subsidised housing again — whether such housing is a new flat from HDB or a resale flat with grants.

East Coast Group Representation Constituency (GRC) MP Cheryl Chan asked whether HDB would allow buyers to cancel their booked BTO flats without forfeiture, on the condition that they purchase resale flats instead, while Tampines GRC MP Desmond Choo asked if penalties could be reduced.

In reply, MND explained that "these measures are in place to ensure that buyers are serious when they buy a flat, and do not deprive others with urgent housing needs of the opportunity to do so."

However, HDB "will consider waiving forfeiture based on an assessment of the flat buyers' specific circumstances".

MND cited the example of flat buyers who have been affected by BTO delays, and who wish to cancel their BTO flats to buy a resale flat instead, due to "urgent housing needs".

In such a case, waiving the one-year waiting period will allow such buyers to receive housing grants for their resale flat.

No one-off housing grant for BTO buyers switching to resale flats

Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Chong Kee Hiong asked about the possibility of a one-off housing grant for those who want to forgo their BTO flats and purchase resale flats instead.

MND said that it has "no plans to provide a once-off housing grant" for such buyers, however, saying that this was because the existing housing grants are "already substantial".

"Nevertheless, we will continue to monitor the market situation and explore how we can better support home buyers with urgent interim housing needs," said MND.

Supply of BTO flats in 2021 expected to exceed 2019 and 2020

Responding to a question by Bukit Panjang MP Liang Eng Hwa on whether HDB will be able to build "enough BTO flats to meet the demand of home buyers", MND also said that HDB is "on track" to launch about 17,000 BTO flats this year.

This is higher than the 14,600 and 16,800 flats launched in 2019 and 2020 respectively, MND said.

Top image via @syucyann on unsplash