HDB MOP (Minimum Occupation Period): A Guide for Flat Owners in Singapore

·9-min read

There are many reasons why you may want to sell your HDB flat. Perhaps you’ve found a nicer place to live, and it’s also closer to your elderly parents.

Maybe you’re in urgent need of cash, and your only recourse is putting your home for sale. But before you start calling up property agents and putting out ads, have you checked if you’ve met HDB’s Minimum Occupation Period (MOP)?

What Is the MOP for HDB Properties?

When you buy an HDB flat from HDB, developer or the open market, you need to adhere to HDB MOP requirements, short for Minimum Occupation Period.

The HDB MOP is the period of time (usually 5 years) that you’re physically required to live in your flat before you can sell/rent it out, or buy another private property.

Note that the HDB MOP starts from the day you collect your keys, and doesn't include any period when you're not residing in the flat.

For example, if you've lived in your flat for 4 years, then spend a year living overseas, you'll still be a year short of the MOP when you return. You need to live in your flat for another year before you can rent or sell your flat or buy another private property.

The HDB MOP helps to prevent homeowners from flipping their newly-purchased flat for a profit immediately. This curbs and prevents the 'lottery effect' from taking hold, especially for prime-district HDB flats.

The duration of the MOP depends on how you purchased your flat, the flat type, and the date you applied for the flat.

HDB flat type

MOP (Minimum Occupation Period)

New HDB flats (including BTO, EC, DBSS)

5 years

New HDB flats under the HDB Prime Location Housing (PLH) Model

10 years**

Resale HDB flats* (2-room or bigger, applied on or after 30 August 2010)

5 years

SERS flats

5 years from the effective date of possession of the replacement flat, or 7 years from the date of selection of the replacement flat

Flats bought under the Fresh Start Housing Scheme

20 years

*There are some exceptions to the HDB MOP for resale flats, but these are rarities such as 1-room flats, or flats bought before 30 August 2010 without any CPF Housing Grant. See the full list of HDB MOPs here.

**There are more rules for future flats released under the PLH model. Read the full article here. The rest of the article will cover general rules for MOP.

What Can't You Do Before Your HDB's MOP?

As mentioned earlier, you’re not allowed to list your flat on the open market for sale during your HDB MOP.

It’s not limited to selling your flat, either. During the MOP timeframe, you can’t rent out your whole flat or purchase any form of private property.

However, as long as you live in your flat and occupy at least one bedroom, you can rent out any of the extra rooms. You’ll need to make sure each rental is a period of at least 6 months, otherwise, you run the risk of having your flat confiscated by HDB.

Should you choose to rent out your spare rooms, the standard rental and tenancy rules apply. You also can’t lock up a bedroom and pretend you live there while renting out the whole flat. This is illegal, and the consequences aren’t worth the income.

What About After the HDB's MOP Is Up?

After you've met the Minimum Occupation Period requirements, you can do the following, in most cases:

  • Sell your flat

  • Rent out the entire flat

  • Buying another private property

However, note that for flats sold under the HDB Prime Location Housing (PLH) Model, you are not allowed to rent out the entire flat even after you have completed the extended 10-year MOP!

This additional restriction only applies to new HDB flats launched in prime (central) locations, starting from the BTO launch in November 2021. Existing HDB flats in these locations are not subject to the new rules.

If it’s your first time selling your HDB flat, be sure to read our guide to selling your home.

Why Is HDB’s MOP Important?

In Singapore, the primary role of an HDB flat is to provide housing, not serve as an investment. The MOP seeks to prevent people from buying resale flats and reselling them for higher prices immediately. The MOP framework, therefore, prevents property investors from driving up the prices of public housing.

MOP prevents property investors from driving up the prices of public housing - PropertyGuru Singapore
MOP prevents property investors from driving up the prices of public housing - PropertyGuru Singapore

As we've seen in the recent introduction of the Prime Location Housing (PLH) Model, which is a form of cooling measure to keep HDB flats in town affordable, the HDB MOP can be selectively adjusted to encourage or deter certain behaviours. In this case, the MOP was extended to 10 years to discourage property 'flipping'.

Can I Sell My HDB Before the MOP Is Over?

You can sell your flat back to HDB before the MOP is up if you meet certain special conditions, although whether or not you will be successful depends on your specific case.

The conditions are as follows:

  • Bankruptcy: If you can avoid bankruptcy by selling your flat and downgrading to a cheaper one, HDB might allow you to do so.

  • Divorce: This tends to form the majority of the reasons for needing to sell the flat before the MOP. Both you and your spouse will be allowed to sell the house and then divide the proceeds.

  • Inability to pay the home loan: In cases where the sole breadwinner of the family is unable to earn money due to death or disability, HDB may sometimes allow families to sell their flats prematurely.

  • Terminal illness: These are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

  • Loss/ renouncement of citizenship: If you’re planning to move abroad permanently, HDB may give you permission to sell your house early. You’ll also be able to get your CPF money back.

Note that for bankruptcy and/or divorce cases, you’ll need to meet a few more requirements before you are allowed to sell your HDB flat before the MOP is up:

Bankruptcy

If none of the HDB flat owners are Singapore citizens, they are required to obtain the consent of the Official Assignee before they can sell the flat. If any of the flat owners are Singapore Citizens, the consent of the Official Assignee is not required.

Divorce

If you go through a divorce after meeting the MOP, you'll need to produce the following documents:

  • Writ for Judicial Separation; or

  • Interim Judgment and Certificate of Making Interim Judgment Final; or

  • Divorce Certificate (for Muslims); and

  • Order of Court (if any)

You can get more information here on how to retain your flat following a divorce.

How Can I Check My HDB MOP?

Don't know how long you'll need to wait before you can sell your flat or buy a new private property? Login to your MyHDB page with your SingPass. Under My Flat, head to Purchased Flat > Flat Details > Minimum Occupation Period (MOP).

I’ve Met My MOP, and I Want to Sell My Flat. Is There Anything Else I Need to Know?

So, you’ve fulfilled the MOP and now you want to sell your flat. Before you can sell your flat, you also need to check if you meet the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) and Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) Quotas.

Ethnic Integration Policy or EIP Quota

The Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) quota seeks to maintain a balanced mix of ethnic groups in all HDB estates. This policy was implemented on 1 March 1989, as a means to "promote racial integration and harmony in Housing and Development Board (HDB) estates."

The then Minister for National Development, S. Dhanabalan first highlighted the emergence of ethnic enclaves in HDB estates in a speech directed at community leaders on 6 January 1989. He cited examples of neighbourhoods within estates like Bedok and Tampines where Malay households made up more than 30 per cent of the estate population, and Hougang where more than 90 percent of the households are Chinese.

As a way to address the growing issue of communal clustering, the government would adopt policies to maintain the ethnic balance, and also serve as a means to foster social and racial cohesion.

Related article: HDB Ethnic Quota in Singapore: 4 Mixed-race Couples Share How the Policy has Affected Them When Buying Flats

Singapore Permanent Resident or SPR Quota

The Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) quota ensures SPR families can integrate well into the local community.

If selling your HDB flat causes the block/neighbourhood’s EIP and/or SPR quota to exceed, you will not be able to sell your HDB flat. Malaysians do not need to adhere to the SPR quota, since they have close cultural similarities with Singaporeans.

There is also no restriction on the sale/purchase of an HDB flat if both you and the buyer are of the same ethnic group and/or citizen type.

After you have registered your Intent to Sell, you can check the EIP/SPR quota of your flat on HDB’s Resale Portal.

More FAQs about HDB's MOP

What Is MOP for HDB?

HDB's MOP stands for Minimum Occupation Period, during which you cannot sell your flat, rent it out in full, or buy another private property. It is typically 5 years and applies to both BTO and resale flats.

Does Resale HDB Have MOP?

Yes, the Minimum Occupation Period applies to resale flats as well.

How Is MOP Calculated?

MOP is calculated from the day you collect the keys to your new home, and excludes any periods when you're not residing in your flat (for example, if you relocate overseas for work).

Can I Rent Out My HDB Before MOP?

No, you cannot rent out your HDB flat in its entirety before you fulfil the MOP. You can only rent out spare rooms during this period.

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