By the year 2030, 25% of Singapore citizens are projected to be composed of elderly, owing to its higher life expectancy and lesser fertility rates. With that, the Singapore government launched various initiatives to minimize the adverse effect of its aging population, focusing on providing the holistic needs of the older generation. One such program is the HDB Lease Buyback Scheme.
This comprehensive guide will delve into the details of the HDB Lease Buyback Scheme, its importance, how it works, its qualifications, its application process, fees, important conditions, and frequently asked questions.
What is the HDB Lease Buyback Scheme?
The HDB Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS) is one of the elderly financial schemes introduced by the Singapore government to support elderly citizens by providing assistance in securing a retirement fund.
The HDB Lease Buyback Scheme provides elderly Singaporean citizens with a source of monthly income for life by monetising their flats. It allows eligible flat owners to sell part of their flat’s lease to HDB while still enabling them to live in it continuously.
The length of the lease retained is based on the age of the youngest owner. In exchange for the sold lease, the homeowners receive a cash bonus, which is then used to top up their CPF Retirement Account (RA). The CPF RA savings may then be used to join the CPF LIFE plan, which supports their retirement income for life.
Importance of the HDB Lease Buyback Scheme
The Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS) holds several key benefits for elderly flat owners. One of its primary advantages is that it provides them with a regular stream of income during their retirement years. This additional income can supplement their financial status, ensuring they have sufficient funds to cover daily expenses and medical needs. Moreover, the scheme allows senior citizens to continue living in their familiar environment and community, providing them with a sense of comfort and security during their golden years.
Additionally, the Lease Buyback Scheme addresses the issue of short-lease flats. Properties with limited remaining lease periods may have limited options in the open market. By participating in the Lease Buyback Scheme, elderly flat owners can unlock the value of their properties and optimize their housing arrangements, ensuring they have appropriate housing for their needs.
Qualifying for the HDB Lease Buyback Scheme
The HDB Lease Buyback Scheme applies to all flat types. For the household to qualify for this scheme, however, the flat owner must meet all of the following criteria:
- At least one owner must be a Singapore citizen, with all the owners reaching the eligibility age (65 years or older).
- The total gross monthly income of the household should not exceed $14,000.
- The homeowner should not have a second concurrent property ownership.
- The flat’s property minimum occupation period should be at least five years and a minimum lease of at least 20 years.
How Does the HDB Lease Buyback Scheme Work?
Once it’s determined that you meet the above criteria, you’ll be able to do the following through the HDB Lease Buyback Scheme:
- Sell to the HDB the tail-end lease of 3-room or smaller flats to 5-room or bigger flats.
- Receive a Lease Buyback Scheme bonus of up to $30,000, which depends on the top-up amount of your CPF Retirement Accounts (RA), the full details of which may be found here.
- Top up your CPF Retirement Account (RA) by using the net proceeds received, provided you comply with the requirements as shown here.
Applying for the HDB Lease Buyback Scheme
Once you decide that you’ll want to include your flat in the HDB Lease Buyback Scheme, it’s important to know the details of the application procedure, including the fees involved. Here’s an overview of what to expect when applying for the scheme:
Making an e-Appointment
To start your application, first book an e-appointment via the Housing and Development Board portal, which allows you to do so by logging in using your Singpass (if you’re the flat owner) or not using a Singpass (if you’re the legal representative, next of kin, etc.). Upon logging in, it will redirect you to a form asking for particulars such as your preferred booking schedule and contact details. This must be filled out within 20 minutes.
The Day of the Appointment
On your scheduled appointment day, the HDB will do the following:
- Explain LBS and other monetisation options for your flat
- Further explain how LBS works, including providing assistance in computing the total payout and monthly income you may receive under the scheme.
What to Expect After Submission of Application
After the submission of your application, an HDB-appointed valuer will conduct a market valuation, which will determine what your retained lease and the tail-end lease sold to HDB’s value will be. We will then conduct financial counselling with you and your family members so you understand your actual total payout and monthly income, which will help you decide whether or not to proceed with the LBS.
Once you decide to proceed with the LBS, we will invite you to sign the necessary legal paperwork in approximately 2 months. During the signing process, if we determine that there are excess proceeds to your mandatory CPF Retirement Account (RA) top-up, we will give you a cheque containing that amount. The LBS bonus will then be deposited into your bank account. Once the LBS transaction is finalized, you should expect to receive your regular monthly earnings after 1 to 2 months.
Fees Involved in the HDB Lease Buyback Scheme
Upon approval, homeowners will need to pay the fees necessary for the completion of the transaction. Here are the payable fees, which will be automatically deducted from the proceeds once the tail-end lease is sold:
- Administrative Charge: This costs $100 (inclusive of GST).
- Legal Fees: The cost of legal fees varies from $300 to $500, depending on the flat type and market value of the flat.
Key Conditions to Be Aware of
There are important conditions that homeowners should be aware of when participating in the Lease Buyback Scheme:
- The cash proceeds received from the Lease Buyback Scheme must be used to top up the owners’ CPF Retirement Account (RA).
- The lease of the youngest owner will be adjusted based on their current age, which determines the amount of top-up required for their RA.
- The Retirement Sum Scheme (RSS) will commence, and the homeowners will receive monthly payouts from their RA.
- While the flat owners will continue to live in the flat, they are not allowed to rent out the whole flat or any rooms.
- If there is concurrent ownership of the flat, all owners must participate in the Lease Buyback Scheme.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What happens if the homeowners pass away before the lease period ends?
If any of the homeowners pass away before the lease period ends, the remaining proceeds from the flat will be disbursed to their beneficiaries.
2. Can homeowners still apply for the Lease Buyback Scheme if they have outstanding mortgage loans?
Yes, homeowners can still apply for the Lease Buyback Scheme even if they have outstanding mortgage loans. However, the loan must be fully repaid using the cash proceeds from the scheme.
3. Is there a maximum income cap to participate in the Lease Buyback Scheme?
Yes, the total gross monthly household income of all flat owners must not exceed $14,000 to be eligible for the scheme.
4. Can homeowners apply for the Lease Buyback Scheme if they own an Executive Condominium (EC)?
No, the Lease Buyback Scheme is only applicable to HDB flats and not Executive Condominiums.
5. What if the homeowners have spare rooms in the flat?
Homeowners with spare rooms in the flat can still participate in the Lease Buyback Scheme, but they are not allowed to rent out those rooms.
6. Can homeowners top-up their CPF Retirement Account (RA) with additional funds?
Yes, homeowners can top up their RA with additional funds beyond the cash proceeds from the Lease Buyback Scheme, provided they meet the eligibility age and criteria.
7. Exactly why is the Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS) Required?
Since retirement funds are a pressing issue in Singapore, the elderly population frequently finds themselves without a stable income and living in Singapore assisted living centres or senior group homes. HDB implemented the LBS as a way to assist the elderly earn money without giving up their residences. Owners that participate in the programme can still rent out other homes to earn additional income.
The HDB Lease Buyback Scheme is an essential initiative that allows elderly HDB flat owners in Singapore to unlock the value of their properties and secure a stable retirement income. By understanding the qualifications, conditions, and application process, eligible homeowners can make informed decisions about their housing and financial arrangements in their golden years. The scheme serves as a valuable safety net for senior citizens, offering them financial security and the opportunity to age gracefully in their own elderly co-living homes.