3 Insane Ways People Try to Flout HDB’s Subletting Rules

Subletting your HDB

HDB has a ton of rules, because it’s public housing and all. And at first, we were about to explain those rules to you. Because the writer for HDB’s web page seems to think “text” is what happens when you drink heavily at 9am, then slam your forehead against the keyboard in utter frustration at the million odd rules you’re tasked to explain. But rules are boring. So instead, let’s look at the insane ways people try to flout them:

A Quick Note on Subletting

Once you’ve lived in your flat for the Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP), your need for personal space will reach a critical level. You will feel so deprived of room – and in fact oxygen – that  your behaviour will degenerate.

You’ll end up doing things the government frowns on, like refusing to have children to compete for your already dwindling air supply, or publicly suggest we don’t need 10 billion construction workers by 2070.

So here’s the concession: stay in your flat for five years (if subsidised), or three years (if unsubsidized), and then you can move out. You can buy a bigger place or whatever, and rent out that glorified hamster cage you call a flat.

Since money is a scarce resource though, some people would rather not wait. They want to sublet right now. So they resort to tricks like:

1. Locking Up One Room

You’re not supposed to sublet your entire flat before the MOP. But if you have a three-room or bigger, you can sublet some of the rooms. You’ll be so close packed you suffocate your tenant by taking a deep breath, but you can do it.

Flat owners were quick to spot the loophole here: You can rent out parts of the flat, just not the whole flat. Therefore, lock up one room in the flat and rent out the rest of it. No more MOP needed.

Clever, but here’s the problem: you also have to be physically staying in the flat. Or else its illegal.

You have to reside in that tiny locked room, and HDB does random checks to ensure that’s the case. So to make a buck out of the”one locked room” trick, your DNA basically has to be closer to hermit crab than human.


2. Ask a Tenant to Pretend They’re You

This is apparently a real thing, because comedy isn’t restricted to sitcoms. Some flat owners strike up hush-hush deals with a tenant: said tenant then pretends to be the owner (particularly in the event of checks), and may even keep up the act in front of other tenants or neighbours.

See HDB can’t check every flat, and many times they catch people because of tip-offs by the public. So fool the neighbours, and you might fool HDB.

Unfortunately, when someone is willing to lie to authorities for an under-the-table deal, chances are they’re not upstanding characters. Inevitably, disagreements happen; like if they decide they’re doing you a big favour, and should re-negotiate their rent to 100% less.

And if things screw up and the conspiracy gets exposed, you might find you’ve upgraded the penalty from a confiscated flat to potential jail time.


3. Just Don’t Tell Anyone You’re Renting Out

You’re supposed to register tenants for your flat. This causes all sorts of inconvenience if, say, you’re not actually allowed to. But hey, it’s easier to apologise than ask for permission.

So some flat owners use the couch potato methods of scamming: just don’t tell anyone, and hope HDB doesn’t notice.

The theory is that, by the time they get caught, they would have made up the cost of losing the flat (When HDB acquires the flat, they pay about 90% of the valuation. That, plus a few years of rental income, makes up for it).


How do you think we should prevent people flouting the rules? Comment and let us know!