Written Answer by Ministry of National Development on alternatives that could be offered to successful BTO applicants affected by construction completion delays
Jul 5, 2021
Mr Desmond Choo: To ask the Minister for National Development (a) what alternatives can the Ministry offer to successful BTO applicants affected by construction completion delays when they approach HDB for assistance; and (b) whether the Ministry can consider reducing the penalty for affected BTO applicants who wish to cancel their applications.
The construction industry is one of the sectors hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Circuit Breaker last year, coupled with the stringent safe management measures imposed at worksites, and the tightening of border controls for workers from South Asia, have led to delays for many private and public sector projects, including HDB’s Build-to-Order (BTO) projects.
We recognise that the delays to the completion of BTO flats have caused inconvenience to flat buyers. HDB is working with its contractors and consultants to expedite construction work as much as possible, while ensuring that project quality and safety standards are not compromised.
Meanwhile, flat buyers are encouraged to find alternative housing arrangements with family members, relatives or on the open market. Where they are unable to do so, first-timer applicants who are waiting for their BTO flats can apply for temporary housing under the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS). Given the limited supply of PPHS flats, we are considering how to finetune allocation to give priority to families in greater need of temporary housing. We are also studying ways to increase the supply of temporary housing to better support affected flat buyers in need of housing. We will provide more details on these measures when ready. For low-income households with no family support and no other housing option, HDB will consider offering Interim Rental Housing (IRH) on a case-by-case basis.
Today, flat buyers who cancel their flat booking will either have to forfeit their option fee, or five per cent of the flat purchase price, and wait out a one-year period before they can apply for subsidised housing again. This includes both new flats from HDB or resale flats with grants. These measures are in place to ensure that buyers are serious when they buy a flat, and do not deprive others with urgent housing needs of the opportunity to do so.
However, we recognise the challenges faced by flat buyers given the COVID-19 situation and will consider waiving forfeiture based on an assessment of the flat buyers’ specific circumstances. This includes flat buyers who have been affected by BTO delays and who cancel their BTO flats to buy a resale flat due to urgent housing needs.