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Two couples can jointly rent larger flats soon

Lower rents to attract new families
The Straits Times - April 15, 2014
By: Rachel Au-Yong
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Two couples can jointly rent larger flats soon

TWO couples could soon rent larger flats together, under a temporary housing scheme.

The Ministry of National Development (MND) is considering letting these couples co-rent four- and five-room Housing Board flats under the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS).

This was disclosed by National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday, after Mr Png Eng Huat (Hougang) had asked about the scheme's rental formula and take-up rate.

When launched in January last year, the scheme was open only to married couples with children applying for first-time buyers of HDB flats who needed temporary housing while waiting for their new homes to be completed.

By September, only 327 couples had applied for the 1,150 flats on offer.

The scheme was extended in the same month to divorced and widowed parents, as well as couples where one spouse is a first-time applicant and the other, a second-timer.

As a result, the number of monthly applications hit a record 409 applicants in September, but has since dropped to 81.

Today, more than 900 flats have been taken up, and the remaining 250 are all four- and five-room units.

"Currently, three-room PPHS flats are most in demand because PPHS applicants tend to be small families and a smaller flat is sufficient to meet their needs," an MND spokesman told The Straits Times yesterday.

Mr Png also asked if rents could be lowered to encourage people to go for the bigger flats. The rent of a four-room flat in Bedok is $1,200 while that of a five-roomer in Ang Mo Kio is $1,700.

Replying, Mr Khaw said the cost of providing PPHS flats includes the cost of retrofitting the flats before they are let out, as well as their management and maintenance fees.

The rents are 40 per cent to 60 per cent lower than market rents in the vicinity, he added.

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