THE Housing Board (HDB) rental market continues to strengthen with larger units showing the biggest rental jump.
Overall median monthly rentals inched up in the second quarter, helped by the demand from those fleeing from high private property rents. Foreigners and locals who have sold their homes in a hot market are among those boosting HDB rents, experts say.
Overall, median rentals for two- and three-room flats were flat at $1,200 and $1,500 respectively. But four-room, five-room and executive flats saw median rental increases of between $50 and $100 a month from the previous quarter.
Four-room flat monthly rentals rose to $1,800 from $1,750, five-room flat rentals were $2,000 from $1,900 and executive flat rentals climbed to $2,100 from $2,000 in the previous quarter.
Median rentals for executive flats in Queenstown also passed the $3,000 mark for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2008, rising to $3,200. There were, however, fewer than 10 of such sublets.
Five-room flats median monthly rentals in the central region also hovered over the $3,000 benchmark for the second consecutive quarter at $3,150.
Executive flats in Jurong East saw one of the largest jumps, of $300, from $2,100 to $2,400, while areas such as Bukit Batok and Sengkang generally saw higher rentals across all flat types.
Property experts say these second quarter median rentals have hit the peak previously achieved in the second half of 2008. They expect further rise and new benchmarks to be set later this year.
Ngee Ann Polytechnic real estate lecturer Nicholas Mak said as private rentals rose steadily, some tenants were likely to look for cheaper alternatives.
'The rate of rental increase might have outpaced the rental budget and so some tenants might prefer an HDB flat in a better location,' he said.
HSR executive director (agency) Jeffrey Hong said that the strong demand is partly due to an influx of foreigners this year into sectors such as information technology, as companies have started hiring again.
Some Singaporeans who sold their property to cash in on high property prices have also decided to rent temporarily instead of buying immediately, he said.
Ms Hwa Hui-en, 24, a social worker, has been renting a four-room flat with four others near Ghim Moh for $2,000 a month since November last year.
She is worried her rent might rise when her lease ends in November as some of her friends have had to move out of rented homes due to higher asking rents.
'Rentals are quite costly... We're splitting the rent among five people and are sharing rooms now. If we don't, it will probably take up a huge portion of our salary, maybe even one quarter of it.'
HDB said subletting deals rose about 15 per cent from 6,606 in the first quarter to 7,595 in the second - taking total approved sublet units to 30,500.
Source: Straits Times, 24 Jul 2010