Friday, March 12, 2010

HDB takes action against 56 flat owners for illegal sub-letting

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) has taken action against 56 flat owners for illegal sub-letting between January 2008 and December last year.

Most were fined between S$1,000 and S$21,000.

One owner had his flat repossessed for blatantly flouting HDB’s sub-letting rules.

Giving details of the case, HDB said it first received feedback on the unauthorised sub-letting of a unit in Block 336 Bukit Batok Street 32 on November 11 last year.

The flat was bought by Poh Boon Kay, who is a registered real estate agent. His wife was listed as an occupier.

He purchased the four-room flat from the open market in June 2007 without any loan.

HDB said the couple are also owners of five private properties. Its investigations found that the flat was sublet without its prior approval to three couples.

Mr Poh and his family did not live in the flat.

He was informed on November 25 to take immediate steps to evict the unauthorised sub-tenants, failing which HDB would take compulsory acquisition action.

However, the subtenants continued to occupy the flat. A notice to compulsorily acquire the flat was then served on December 23.

Mr Poh informed HDB on the same day that the sub-tenants had signed an undertaking to vacate the flat by the end of December.

A day later, the couple appealed. He claimed that the sub-tenant needed time to work out his finances before buying over the flat from Mr Poh.

He had therefore decided to rent out the flat to the sub-tenants in the interim.

On January 5, when the couple was interviewed by HDB, they claimed they did not know that they needed to seek the board’s prior approval before subletting the flat.

They also claimed that they were not aware of the policy for flat owners to fulfil the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) of three years before they were eligible to sublet the whole flat.

HDB’s further investigations have shown that Mr Poh is also related to two other cases of unauthorised subletting at Bukit Batok and Telok Blangah.

With these further instances of unauthorised subletting related to Mr Poh, his claims that he is “unaware” of HDB rules cannot be substantiated.

HDB said as he has blatantly flouted HDB’s rules, there are no grounds for leniency and legal action has been taken to compulsorily acquire the flat.

HDB will also be taking legal action to compulsorily acquire the other two flats.

HDB would like to emphasise the severity of unauthorised subletting. HDB flats are meant for owner occupation. Flat owners who wish to sublet their whole flat must obtain approval from HDB and fulfil the MOP.

The current MOP for the subletting of flats is as follows:

*Flats bought directly from HDB – 5 years

*Resale flats purchased with CPF Housing Grant – 5 years

*Resale flats purchased without CPF Housing Grant – 3 years

Source: Channel News Asia, 12 Mar 2010

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