Photo of elderly Singaporean with Lee Hsien Loong portrait

An elderly Singaporean wrote to state media Straits Times earlier this week (Apr 3) calling for the Singapore government to help him sell his flat. Elderly Ronnie Tan wrote in his letter that he is unable to downgrade to a smaller unit because nobody wants to buy his existing resale flat. Unable to sell his flat and now risking his retirement, Ronnie Tan blamed Minister Lawrence Wong for clarifying that a HDB apartment will be worthless once it’s lease ended.

You may read the letter in full here:

“The notion that owning a Housing Board flat is an investment for old age is no longer valid today. This is made worse by the announcement by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong that not all old HDB flats will be eligible for the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers) and that once flats reach 99 years, they will have zero value and owners will have to vacate (Don’t assume all old HDB flats will become eligible for Sers, cautions Lawrence Wong, March 24, 2017; and Understanding what happens at the end of a 99-year lease, Dec 28, 2017). Presently, many seniors who want to downgrade to Built-To-Order studio apartments for the elderly are in a fix as they are unable to sell their old flats. They stand to lose their deposits on their new flat if they cannot sell their old flat. Most of them were hoping to downgrade and live on the profits from selling their flats but have become disillusioned. The Government needs to step in to manage this problem and not just leave things to market forces.

Ronnie Lim Ah Bee