If you own a HDB flat, then you most likely know that you’re not allowed to sell your HDB before you’ve fulfilled the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP)—the period of time you are required to physically occupy your flat before you are allowed to sell it on the open market.
But there are certain circumstances in life, like going through a divorce or avoiding bankruptcy, that necessitates selling your HDB flat before the MOP is up. Here’s how you can appeal to HDB for an early MOP sale.
What is the MOP for HDB flats?
Established in 1971, the MOP kicks in from the day that property owners receive keys to their new homes. The majority of HDB flats, including resale flats and SERS flats, will be subject to a 5-year MOP. However, keep in mind that any time you spend overseas will not be counted towards the fulfilment of your MOP.
For example, if your job required you to live overseas for a year within the 5 years you are required to physically occupy your flat, your MOP will automatically extend by one year because that year spent overseas will not be counted when calculating your MOP.
You may log in to HDB’s e-Service portal using your Singpass to check how much time you have left for your MOP.
You are not allowed to rent out your entire home before your MOP is up, either. What is possible, though, is for you to rent out individual rooms as long as you abide by HDB’s regulations for the maximum number of occupants and minimum tenancy period. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of having your flat confiscated by HDB.
Do note that the MOP is 10 years for HDB flats that fall under the Prime Location Public Housing. For flats bought under the Fresh Start Housing Scheme, homeowners will be required to live in their homes for 20 years. For more information on the respective MOP required for different types of HDB flats, you can read this article.
Under what circumstances can you appeal to sell your HDB before MOP?
Life hardly goes as planned, and there are extenuating circumstances where you may need to sell your HDB before the MOP is up. In the event of divorce, bankruptcy, or loss of citizenship, you may be able to appeal to HDB about selling your home before its MOP.
#1: Divorce and transference of ownership
Divorce is one of the most common reasons why homeowners opt to sell their flat before reaching the MOP. While it may be realistic for one or both owners to hold onto flat ownership until it has been fulfilled, selling the flat is often preferred to give both parties closure.
Lawyers will typically encourage one party to take over ownership of the flat if they are financially capable of doing so and eligible for ownership under the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme. However, should you ultimately decide to surrender the flat to HDB, you may submit an appeal to the board with the relevant documents via HDB’s e-Feedback form for approval. This includes:
- An Order of Court (if applicable)
- One of the following:
- Writ for Judicial Separation (previously known as the Deed of Separation)
- Divorce Certificate for Muslims
- Interim Judgement and Certificate of Making Interim Judgement Final (previously known as Decree Nisi and Decree Nisi Absolute respectively)
All documents are required to be accompanied by an official English translation if they are not written in one of Singapore’s four official languages (English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay and Tamil). Finally, it is also advisable for both parties to reach an agreement on how to best divvy up the profits or losses before making the decision to sell.
#2: Avoiding bankruptcy
Bankruptcy includes instances when a household’s sole breadwinner becomes incapable of work in the event of accident, death, and other related reasons. But this also depends on whether or not HDB deems the remaining members of the family capable of working to provide sufficient funds to keep the household afloat. But if you could avoid declaring bankruptcy by selling your flat and right-sizing to a less expensive one, you may submit the relevant documents proving your current financial status to HDB’s appeal portal.
#3: Renouncement or loss of citizenship
Non-citizens are not eligible to purchase HDB unless they apply under the non-resident spouse scheme. Therefore, if all homeowners decide to renounce their Singapore Citizenship and/or SPR status to permanently move overseas, HDB may allow you to sell your house and return all your Central Provident Funds to you.
How can you increase your chances of selling your HDB before MOP?
While MOP waivers are usually given out on a case-by-case basis at HDB’s own discretion, there’s no shortage of evidence out there to show that HDB has been flexible and understanding towards households that are undergoing exceptional circumstances. Officially, HDB has approved the sale of 5,000 pre-MOP flats between the years 2015 to 2020 for reasons that include financial hardship, divorce, or demise of the owner.
So while there is no surefire way to guarantee that you will receive a MOP waiver, make sure that you have all your documents in order, conduct regular follow-ups, and be clear on the reasons why you need to sell your flat when writing your appeal.
How to submit your appeal to sell your HDB before MOP
That said, these sort of appeals is handled on a case-by-case basis. You may (1) visit the HDB branch office to submit your appeal or (2) apply online by logging into the My HDBPage: Log in via SingPass > My Flat > Purchased Flat > Flat Details.
Once you’ve clicked on Flat Details, you should be able to find the contact details of the estate manager that is in charge of your block. Draft a letter explaining why you intend to sell your flat before MOP and mail it to that address. In addition, you can also try to speed up the process by reaching out to your MP. Ultimately, though, it is HDB’s call to make. So may the odds be ever in your favour.
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