A tenant saw the listing for the rental of the flat and was assured that his wife and children could stay and use the entire flat. At signing, the tenant was shown a Room Rental Tenancy Agreement (the “Tenancy Agreement”) stating that the landlord was to let out 2 bedrooms in the flat to the tenant. The tenant was concerned with signing an agreement for room rental as they wanted to rent the entire flat and not 2 bedrooms but was assured again that the tenant & family is indeed renting the entire flat.
The tenant and his family (occupiers) moved into the flat after their respective work and immigration passes were approved but the landlord did not live with the tenant and the occupiers in the flat.
During investigations, HDB established that the landlord did not live in the flat with the tenant and that the tenant had rented the whole flat from the landlord. The landlord eventually informed the tenant to vacate the flat in October 2019 due to ongoing HDB investigations. The tenant and his family were put to great inconvenience and expense as they had to search for a new rental property within a very short period of time and incurred costs to engage movers to move all their belongings to their new rental property.
The agent was suspended with a fine and the (landlord) owner's 5-room flat was compulsorily acquired by HDB eventually.
HDB owners are required to seek HDB’s approval before renting out their flats / bedrooms or when renewing the tenancy for the HDB flat. Any attempt to rent out the flat / bedrooms without approval or informing HDB of subsequent changes (termination, renewal of tenancy, or changes to tenants or tenants’ particulars), the rental will be considered unauthorised by HDB.
HDB may take action against the flat owner, such as imposing a penalty and / or compulsory acquisition of the flat. For inclusion of new proposed tenants, flat owners must obtain HDB’s approval before their new tenants may move into the flat.
For those that have not attained their 5-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) status for their flats, the landlord (owner) and its authorised occupiers must continue to live in the flat with the tenants during the period of rental. Locking up a room and renting out the rest of the flat without physically staying in it is not allowed. HDB will revoke the approval for renting out of bedrooms, if an owner flouts the rules. Under the Housing and Development Act, HDB can also take action against the owner for renting out of the whole flat without HDB's prior approval.
Real estate professional Kiwi Lim said the various regulations by HDB is one of the main reason why home buyers choose to buy a private residential condo for their home as well as asset progression plans. "When you purchase a Build-to-Order (BTO) unit directly from the Housing and Development Board (HDB) or a resale HDB flat from the open market, you're required to comply with the 5-year Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP) before you can rent the entire flat or sell the flat." said Kiwi.
Sources: CEA and HDB