4 Ways to Get Your HDB Flat “Confiscated”

4 Ways to Get Your HDB Flat “Confiscated”

Ryan Ong



I’m amazed people try anything illegal in their HDB flats. I mean, it’s not exactly spacious:  a few inches of wall separates us from the most intimate details of our neighbours. The lady next door can’t even hide when she’s had too much chilli, because I wake up every time she flushes. And yet people still lose their flats, because they think they can get away with these:


1. Illegal Subletting / Renting Out of Flats

There is a three or five year Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP) before you can sublet.

The MOP is three years if you bought the flat without subsidies i.e. from the open market, without the use of the CPF Housing Grant. Otherwise, it’s five years. Until then, you’re not supposed to sublet / rent out your flat – even through sites like Airbnb.

The record breaker for this one was in 2010. A real estate agent, Mr. Poh Boon Kay, had three flats repossessed by HDB. He’d rented them out before the MOP. One was even used as a meditation center by monks from Myanmar (which is not impressive. Given the size of flats, it’s impressive that anyone could live in them without being meditative monks).

Poh’s defence was to claim ignorance of the rules, which may have worked for anyone who, you know, isn’t a real estate agent.

But even if he wasn’t, don’t count on proclaimed ignorance as a defence. That’s the kind of gamble that can end in a permanent void deck vacation.


2. Buying Private Property Before the MOP

There are rules about when a HDB flat owner can buy private property. You’re supposed to stay for the duration of the MOP before buying a condo, bungalow, etc.

Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs) have to sell their HDB flat within six months of buying private property.

In 2011 there was a huge kerfuffle over this – a family who were affected by the Selective En-Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) were supposed to get a replacement flat. But in the process of filling in forms, they indicated they’d purchased private property in Malaysia.

(Before you judge, note that the husband in the family is Malaysian)

They ended up with no flat, and $192,000. Check it out here.


3. Renting Out to Illegal Immigrants

I personally know something who got busted for this.

My buddy Alex (not his real name) got into serious trouble in ’02, when his tenant turned out to be an overstayer. He face the very real prospect of losing his flat.

I assumed that the property agent would check, which in hindsight was negligent of me,” he says, “So neither of us know the tenant was an overstayer. And according to the agent, she did ask to see the tenant’s papers; but later we found out all she (the agent) did was photocopy the tenant’s documents and skim through them.”

Alex didn’t lose his flat. But till today, if you yell “ICA” next to him he turns so white he can pass for that snowman in Frozen.

When you’re renting out, you need to verify the tenant’s identity yourself. Find the instructions here. Note that, while your property agent will also be penalized, it doesn’t absolve you of blame.


4. Just Don’t Pay

Public housing is far less charitable than you’d imagine. And this really comes down to an issue of home loans:

In theory, a HDB concessionary loan gives you more leeway if you can’t make loan repayments. The government might let you pay a little bit late, or work out an alternative repayment scheme. It helps them look merciful, even as they sip from their thermos of poor people’s tears.

But that leeway has a limit. Ultimately, HDB can still repossess the flat. You may also be encouraged to sell your flat and downgrade, if it seems your family can manage in a smaller home (The technical term for that should totally be “moving into a no room flat”.)

Banks give you a lot less leeway. Fail to pay, and they won’t hesitate to repossess your flat. So while bank loans may be cheaper – and have been for a long time – they remain the privilege of the financially stable.

As to whether you’re in a safe enough position for a bank loan, ask a mortgage specialist.

Do you think flats are too easily repossessed? Comment and let us know!

Image Credits:

Keep updated with all the news!


Ryan Ong

I was a freelance writer for over a decade, and covered topics from music to super-contagious foot diseases. I took this job because I believe financial news should be accessible and fun to read. Also, because the assignments don't involve shouting teenagers and debilitating plagues.

  • Yong En Lee

    Hi Ryan, have your legs recovered? You mentioned that bank loans are cheaper, but don’t they fluctuate and cost more in the end?

  • helen

    Good Day !!!!!

    I am Hwa Jurong, a Reputable, Legitimate & an accredited money
    Lender. I loan money out to individuals in need of financial assistance.
    Do you have a bad credit or are you in need of money to pay bills?
    i want to use this medium to inform you that i render reliable beneficiary
    assistance as I’ll be glad to offer you a loan at 2% interest rate to
    reliable individuals.

    Services Rendered include:
    *Home Improvement
    *Inventor Loans
    *Auto Loans
    *Line of Credit
    *Second Mortgage
    *Business Loans
    *Personal Loans
    *International Loans.

    Please write back if interested.

    Upon Response, you’ll be mailed a Loan application form to fill. (No social
    security and no credit check, 100% Guaranteed!) I Look forward permitting me to
    be of service to you. You can contact me via e-mail: [email protected] , [email protected] , [email protected]
    Yours Sincerely,

    Hwa Jurong(MD).

  • Ho Harry

    Do you think flats are too easily repossessed? Yes,those sick and jobless citizens are losing their flats through compulsory acquisition.


    We operate a legit and registered loan company that strives
    to leave a positive lasting impression by exceeding the expectations of our
    customers in everything we do. Our goal is to treat you with dignity and
    respect while providing the highest quality service in a timely manner.

    If you are contacting us as a potential customer, we offer:

    Real estate loans & financing

    Start up business loans

    Business expansion loans

    Investment loans

    Home and mortgage loans

    Personal loans

    Debt consolidation loans

    Construction and Bridge loans

    **** money loans, e.t.c.

    We also aid and have focus in providing commercial real estate financing
    solutions for borrowers and mortgage brokers who need a convenient, quick and
    reasonably priced smaller commercial real estate loan.

    We also deals with SMEs and large corporate clients and aims to provide
    innovative and customized solutions to meet their short term working capital

    Interested persons/companies should send us an email with full details
    information via [email protected]