You would like a home to call your own, but perhaps cannot yet afford to buy or even rent one. Don’t worry, this doesn’t spell homelessness for you. HDB’s raison d’etre is to provide affordable homes for all Singaporeans, so there’s something for everyone, even those on a very tight budget.
Those who are unable to afford rent on the open market can turn to the HDB Public Rental Scheme, a scheme created to house low-income Singaporeans at affordable prices.
On 13 March 2023, HDB announced that they will be piloting a new public rental scheme called Single Room Shared Facilities, which is set to be rolled out at the end of 2023. These government rental flats will allow low-income singles to live in their own rooms but share common areas such as toilets and kitchens.
The former Anderson Junior College (AJC) hostel in Ang Mo Kio Avenue, which consists of two 11-storey blocks, will be the site of the new initiative aimed at providing tenants with greater privacy while promoting a community-type living environment. But what other housing options are available under the HDB Public Rental Scheme? Let’s take a look.
What Is the HDB Public Rental Scheme?
First, let’s clarify that the HDB Public Rental Scheme is completely different from renting an HDB flat on the open market.
On the open market, your landlord is an individual or couple (i.e. the owner(s) of the flat). You mutually agree on a monthly rent, but this amount is influenced by the prevailing HDB rental prices. Based on median HDB rental flat prices in Q4 2022, it cost anything from $2,000 to $2,800 a month to rent a 3-room HDB flat.
But under the HDB Public Rental Scheme, your landlord is HDB. That means you’ll rent your HDB flat from the Government. You’ll need to adhere to HDB’s rental flat eligibility criteria, which can be strict (see below), but the rental prices are much lower.
If you do qualify for the Public Scheme, HDB rental flats’ monthly rent can range from just $26 to $275 a month for a 1-room or 2-room HDB rental flat. These heavily subsidised HDB rental scheme flats are very limited in supply and are meant only for Singaporeans who have no other housing options.
This article will walk you through HDB rental flat eligibility criteria, application procedure, rental costs, and possible alternatives.
What Are the HDB Rental Flat Eligibility Criteria?
HDB rental flat eligibility criteria
At least 21 years old
The main applicant must be a Singapore Citizen
Not more than $1,500 a month
Not an existing tenant or essential occupier of an HDB flat
Do not own any property (including HDB flats, Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flats, executive condominiums (ECs), or private properties both local and overseas)
Not barred under any rule, regulation, or policy by the government or HDB
No children who can house you or provide other housing options
Do note that you can still apply for the HDB rental scheme even if your gross household income exceeds $1,500 per month. Assuming you meet the other HDB rental eligibility criteria, HDB will assess your application along with your circumstances, such as household size and expenses such as medical needs.
As for the other HDB rental flat eligibility criteria, however, it’s not wise to try and fool the authorities into leasing a subsidised flat to you.
HDB will conduct assessments on applicants, and if you are found to actually be able to afford to purchase your own flat, or have other housing options, you can be barred from applying under the scheme or be listed as an occupant.
If you have children who can house you in their own homes, or are financially able to provide other housing options for you, you will not be eligible for the scheme as well. This is to ensure that the subsidised rental flats are distributed to the truly needy.
HDB Rental Eligibility Criteria Under Family Scheme
If you qualify for the HDB Public Rental Scheme, you can apply for a flat either under the Family Scheme or the Joint Singles Scheme (JSS). Each has slightly different eligibility criteria on top of the general criteria listed above.
Under the Family Scheme,
You must be a Singapore Citizen (SC)
You must include at least another SC or a Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) in your basic family nucleus
Your family nucleus must comprise any of the following:
You and your spouse
If you’re single, you and your parents
If you’re widowed or divorced, you and your children are under your legal custody (care and control)
A fiancé and fiancée
If you’re orphaned, you and your siblings (at least one parent was an SC or SPR)
Note that if you are divorced and have joint custody of any children under the age of 21, you must obtain your ex-spouse’s written agreement before you can list them in a flat application.
Also, although technically they do not meet the HDB rental eligibility criteria, unmarried parents are also welcome to speak to an HDB officer who can review their application on a case-by-case basis.
Can Singles Rent an HDB Flat Under the HDB Public Scheme?
Yes, singles can rent HDB flat under the HDB Public Rental Scheme if they apply jointly with another single, under the JSS.
The following HDB rental flat eligibility criteria apply:
You and your listed occupier must be SCs
Both of you must be single
Any of the following is considered as singles:
Unmarried and at least 35 years old
Divorced or legally separated from a spouse, with legal documents, and at least 35 years old
Widowed or orphaned (at least one parent was an SC or SPR)
If you are unable to find a suitable flatmate for the Joint Singles Scheme, take heart. HDB launched the Joint Singles Scheme Operator-Run Model (JSS-OR) back in Q4 2021 to assist such applicants.
Under JSS-OR, you can apply for an HDB rental flat as a single without the need for a flatmate at the application stage. The JSS-OR operator will match you to a suitable flatmate and manage the flat-sharing arrangements.
HDB Public Rental Scheme Application Procedure
If you meet the HDB rental flat eligibility criteria, you can apply for an HDB Public Rental Scheme online through HDB’s e-service.
Depending on your citizenship, the number of dependents you have, and your marital and employment status, the application will have to be accompanied by different documents.
If your application is successful, you’ll get up to two chances to select your flat. You can choose HDB Public Rental Scheme flats from the following application zones.
Generally, you are limited to only 1-room HDB flats under the HDB Public Rental Scheme. The only exception is families comprising three or more individuals, who can apply for 2-room flats.
Choose wisely because once your flat selection has been confirmed, you will not be allowed to make any changes to your application. After confirming, you’ll need to sign the tenancy agreement or pay the required fees by the date as stated in the written notice from HDB.
The second flat selection will be considered your final offer. If you fail to proceed with the tenancy agreement and pay HDB, you and other occupiers listed in the application will not be allowed to apply for another flat under the HDB Public Rental Scheme for a year.
Once the application has been submitted, it’s a waiting game. However, truly needy applicants who are in immediate need of a housing solution will be given priority. You can call HDB at 1800-225-5432 to enquire about the estimated waiting time.
How Much Does It Cost to Rent an HDB Flat From the Government?
Monthly household income
Monthly rent (1-room HDB flat)
Monthly rent (2-room HDB flat)
$800 or less
$26 to $33
$44 to $75
$800 or less
$90 to $123
$123 to $165
Between $801 and $1,500
$90 to $123
$123 to $165
$800 or less
$150 to $205
$205 to $275
Those benefiting from HDB’s Public Rental Scheme may pay as little as $26 a month to keep a roof over their heads. Even the highest rent one can expect is just $275. The variation depends on your household income, the type of flat you want to rent, and whether you are a first or second-time applicant.
HDB defines first-time applicants as those who have never owned an HDB flat, whether bought from a BTO exercise or resale market. You must not have obtained a housing subsidy from buying an EC from a developer, Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS), or the privatisation of Housing and Urban Development Company (HUDC) estates.
As long as you have done any of the above, or received subsidies in any of the abovementioned forms, you are considered a second-time applicant and will have to pay slightly higher rents.
Just like regular rental properties on the open market, once you have signed the tenancy agreement for a Public Rental Scheme flat, you are required to pay a deposit equivalent to one month’s rent. Once that’s done, you’ll have a space to call your own.
Alternative: Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS)
If you fail to meet the stringent requirements of the HDB Public Scheme, there is another way to rent an HDB flat from the Government. It’s called the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS) and temporarily houses families that are awaiting the completion of their new homes.
Under PPHS, the HDB rental flat eligibility criteria are a lot less onerous. Singaporeans can apply for an HDB rental flat under this scheme if they have booked an uncompleted flat under one of HDB’s sales exercises, and are:
A married couple (both first-timers or a first-timer and a second-timer)
Applying under the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme (both first-timers or a first-timer and a second-timer)
A divorced or widowed parent with children
More importantly, the ceiling for your monthly household income is $7,000, which is much higher than the income ceiling for HDB Public Scheme rental flats.
Other PPHS HDB rental flat eligibility criteria are:
You must be an SC applying with another SC or SPR
All members of your PPHS household must not own an existing HDB flat
If any of you co-own an existing HDB flat with your parents and/or siblings who are not listed in your sales application, you can apply for PPHS but you must give up ownership of that flat within six months upon collecting the keys for your PPHS flat.
All members of your household must be listed in your sales application, but if you have a child after submitting the application, that’s fine. Just submit a request to include your child in the household.
PPHS rental flats are offered at subsidised monthly rents ranging from $400 per month (2-room flat) to $1,500 per month (4-room flat). However, flats are very limited and you can view the locations here.
What About Renting an HDB Flat From the Open Market?
Let’s face it, not many Singaporeans can qualify to rent an HDB flat from the Government.
For a start, the HDB Public Rental Scheme has very stringent requirements and a low-income ceiling of $1,500 a month. Even the more lenient Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme has a number of hoops to jump through as well.
The other alternative is renting an HDB flat the ‘normal way’. However, rental HDB flat eligibility criteria still apply even when renting from the open market!
You must be an SC, SPR, or non-citizen legally residing in Singapore
If you are a non-citizen, you must hold an Employment Pass, S Pass, Work Permit, Student Pass, Dependant Pass, or Long-Term Social Visit Pass that’s valid for at least six months.
Tourists cannot rent an HDB flat or bedroom. This is why listing your flat on Airbnb could get you in trouble.
You cannot currently own an HDB flat, or already be renting one. Exceptions are made if you are divorced or legally separated (only one party can rent an HDB flat), or if you have met the MOP on your flat and will rent it out within one month.
Before going ahead with your HDB rental on the open market, you should visit the flat and make sure you’re dealing with the rightful owner of the flat and that they have HDB’s approval to rent out the flat or bedroom.
In addition, when the flat owner applies for approval to rent out their flat or bedroom, the particulars of the tenants must also be provided. You can use HDB’s e-Service to check if you have been included as an authorised tenant.
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