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Singapore HDB to streamline income and subsidy eligibility assessment for flat buyers

The changes come as HDB introduces a new HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) letter.

Singapore HDB blocks in the Punggol district on a sunny day.
The Housing and Development Board (HDB) will be streamlining the income assessment period and the assessment of household eligibility for housing subsidies through the implementation of a new letter. (PHOTO: Getty) (Carlina Teteris via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The Housing and Development Board (HDB) announced on Tuesday (9 May) that it will streamline a flat applicant's income assessment period as well as the assessment of household eligibility for housing subsidies, with the implementation of a new HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) letter that will replace the current HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter.

HDB said that the HFE letter will streamline the flat buying process and give "a holistic understanding and assessment of their housing and financing options before they commence their home buying journey".

The new letter will inform flat buyers upfront of their eligibility for a new or resale flat purchase, CPF housing grants, and HDB housing loan, including the respective grant and loan amounts.

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To do so, HDB said that it will be retrieving personal particulars from Myinfo for eligibility assessment to "provide flat buyers with more convenience and reduce the number of documents they will need to submit to HDB" when applying for a flat.

Revised income assessment period

To facilitate the changes, HDB said that it will standardise the income assessment period to 12 months instead of the latest three or six months.

According to HDB, this approach "leverages available data to allow for a more consistent assessment across applicants" and provide a clearer assessment of an applicant's income level, including those with different work remuneration structures or individuals whose income fluctuates from month to month such as freelance workers.

Other updates to income assessment include the type of income assessed, which now accounts for all components from employment or trade with the exception of bonuses.

The cut-off date of the income assessment period was also revised to two months preceding the month of an HFE letter application.

Revised assessment for household eligibility and grants

From 9 May onwards, flat applicants and occupiers in the core nucleus can now share any eligible housing grants regardless of whether they are Singapore Citizens (SC) or Singapore Permanent Residents (SPR).

With the implementation of the HFE letter, a household's eligibility to receive housing subsidies will be assessed based on the core family nucleus, comprising the core applicants and core occupiers. Core applicants and occupiers are individuals who enable the household to meet the eligibility conditions for a flat purchase, namely Singapore Citizens and Singapore Permanent Residents respectively.

Examples of core nucleus and the corresponding treatments, to illustrate a story on HDB's new HFE letter.
Examples of core nucleus scenarios and the corresponding approach. (TABLE: Housing and Development Board) (Housing and Development Board (HDB))

At present, households comprising Singapore Citizens (SC) or one Singapore Citizen and one Singapore Permanent Resident (SC-SPR) are eligible for housing grants. However, the housing grants are only disbursed to SC flat applicants.

According to HDB, the streamlining will allow for a "fairer approach" as the SC/SPR core occupier will be treated as a second-timer after enjoying a housing grant, similar to SC core applicants. Second-timer applicants in the core family nucleus who had previously enjoyed a housing subsidy will now be required to pay their resale levy before collecting the keys to their second subsidised flat.

HDB added that it will also consider the eligibility of the core nucleus for other conditions, including the continuous employment condition for the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG), and the home-for-life condition for EHG.

There will be no changes to the assessment of household income and private property ownership for subsidy eligibility.

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