The 606 households affected by the government acquisition were previously only offered replacement flats with a fresh 99-year lease in Ang Mo Kio Drive, next to ITE College Central. Owners also could not apply for the lease buyback scheme after their flats had been announced for Sers.
Subsequently, there was a big commotion among home owners affected by HDB's decision to Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers) their blocks of flats in Ang Mo Kio. Some owners were upset with the need to top up money for similar-sized replacement flats, HDB had promised them that they will explore 'options'.
Today on 2 July Saturday, HDB announced to all the owners of flats undergoing the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers) in Ang Mo Kio that they will be given two more rehousing options that address their concerns about having to fork out cash for similarly-sized replacement units. Residents had previously expressed dismay at having to pay up to $100,000 for a replacement flat. HDB understands their concerns and has therefore provided the additional options to help them purchase their new replacement flats.
Option 1: 50-year lease
The Housing Board said it will offer affected residents at the four Sers blocks in Ang Mo Kio three-room or larger flats at the replacement sites on a 50-year lease, if the new flat is able to last the owners until they are 95. This is the first time that HDB is offering four-room flats on a shorter lease.
Option 2: Lease Buy Back Scheme
Alternatively, HDB will also offer the lease buyback scheme to those aged 65 and over at the Sers site. They can then buy a short-lease replacement flat after that, HDB said. Under the lease buyback scheme, flat owners can keep a lease that will cover them and their spouse till they are at least 95 years old, and sell the tail-end of the lease to HDB.
HDB said these two additional rehousing options will first be offered to eligible Sers flat owners in Blocks 562 to 565 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, and later extended to flat owners of Blocks 212 to 218 Marsiling Crescent/Lane whose flats were announced for acquisition for the redevelopment and extension of Woodlands Checkpoint.
Owners who do not wish to take up a new replacement flat can choose to sell their Sers flats with the rehousing benefits on the open market.
HDB said the registration for new replacement flats in Ang Mo Kio Drive will start in early 2023 and residents will have until their flat selection appointments, estimated to be at the end of 2023 or early in 2024, to pick an option.
HDB added: "For the flat owners in Ang Mo Kio this 50-year lease length would be close to the balance lease of their existing flats when they move to their replacement flats around end-2027." To be eligible, the flat owners and their spouse need to be at least 45 years old at the point of the Sers announcement, which was in April this year, to ensure that the lease of the replacement flat can cover them until the age of at least 95, HDB said.
Flat owners who choose this option will be able to sell their flat on the resale market after meeting the minimum occupation period of five years, it added. HDB said: "Further details on the actual selling prices of the replacement flats at the designated Sers replacement site in Ang Mo Kio Drive will be made known to residents during flat selection."
Real estate professional Kiwi Lim from Huttons Asia felt these additional option is fair to owners who have no financial ability to pay for the top-up of the lease for the new SERs flat. There are some owners who said they had intended to live throughout their old lease and therefore had no spare funds for SERs replacement flats. Owners will be happy to know that they no longer need to pay for top-up fees for their new flats, although their flats will see a lower value as compared to their neighbors living in the same block with 99 yrs lease. These owners of flats with shorter leases will face issues when they intend to sell in the years ahead and the values of their flats will definitely depreciate faster than their neighbors' flats in the same block with longer leases thus creating an unusual scenario.
SERS was introduced in 1995 as part of the government’s efforts to renew older housing estates. It entails the government taking back the sites, with SERS residents given a package that includes compensation and rehousing benefits, as well as the opportunity to move to a new home on a fresh 99-year lease.
Residents who have queries can also contact their Sers Journey Manager, call HDB's Sers inquiry line on 1800-866-3070 from Mondays to Fridays, 8am to 5pm, or contact HDB via MyRequest@HDB.
Extracted from Straits Times online 2 July 2022