Illegal Subletting of HDB Flats: A Call for Responsibility and Consequence

[Contributed by May] Housing in Singapore has always been a critical issue. The government is supposed to provide affordable public housing to its citizens through the Housing and Development Board (HDB) scheme. The HDB flat is meant to be a place for Singaporeans to call home, a sanctuary where they can build their lives and raise their families. However, the issue of illegal subletting of HDB flats has been a persistent problem that threatens the well-being of our society.

This is not only illegal, but it also undermines the integrity of the public housing system in Singapore. HDB flats are meant to provide affordable housing to Singaporeans. Illegal subletting these flats can cause a strain on the system. This leads to shortages of available housing for those who need it.

What is Illegal Subletting?

Illegal subletting occurs when a tenant rents out his or her HDB flat to a third party without seeking permission from HDB. This is a serious offense and carries severe consequences, including fines and even imprisonment. It is a breach of the terms and conditions of the HDB lease which specifies that HDB flats are for personal occupation only, and not for commercial or rental purposes.

The problem of illegal subletting is not new, but it has become increasingly rampant in recent years. Some tenants are taking advantage of the high demand for housing by renting out their HDB flats to foreigners or to multiple tenants, without going through the proper channels. This not only violates the terms of their HDB lease but also puts a strain on the community.

Illegal subletting can have a ripple effect on the community. For instance, it can lead to overcrowding, noise pollution, and other problems that affect the quality of life of residents. It can also create safety hazards, such as fire risks, due to overloading of electrical systems or gas cylinders. In addition, illegal subletting can cause social problems, such as conflict between tenants or an influx of foreign nationals into the neighborhood.

Examples of illegal subletting

The above Facebook post is posted by an individual from Mumbai, Maharashtra. Her profile also says she lives in London and she is single. This means that it is likely she is not Singaporean and hence would not be able to purchase a HDB flat herself. If she is living in this HDB flat, it means she likely rented it from a Singaporean.

Yet, this listing is out there, and she wants to rent it only to EP holders. This is a likely case of illegal subletting. She’s renting this place, and then renting it out to EP holders to gain profit from it.

When you have multiple of such instances, with tenants subletting flats at a profit, you will see that market prices will keep increasing. In turn, Singaporeans who actually need a home and cannot afford to buy one at this stage (e.g. single Singaporeans under 35 years old) will be forced to pay higher rent alongside these people because landlords think that prices are now high.

And the fact is that there are many of such cases.

As such, we call on all tenants to take responsibility for their actions and not engage in illegal subletting.

HDB flat owners and tenants have a social responsibility to ensure that their actions do not affect the safety, security, and harmony of their neighborhood. It is important to remember that the HDB flat is a privilege. This privilege comes with certain responsibilities, and tenants must respect the terms and conditions of their lease.

HDB needs to step up their efforts to combat illegal subletting by increasing surveillance and imposing stiffer penalties. It is also important for all Singaporeans to speak out against illegal subletting and to report any instances that they may encounter. This is not only a matter of upholding the law. It is also a matter of protecting the integrity of our public housing system. We must ensure a fair and safe community for everyone.