Parliament: 5,200 public rental households in rent arrears, 159 moved from 2-room to 1-room flats

SINGAPORE – About 5,200 – or one in 10 – families living in public rental flats have not paid their rent on time, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Monday (May 4).

About three in four of these households, usually lower-income families, owe less than $3,000 in rent. By duration, about half owe less than one year’s worth of rent.

Mr Wong provided these statistics in a written parliamentary reply to Nominated MP Anthea Ong, who asked for more information on the arrears and help for these families.

He said the Housing Board takes “a compassionate and holistic approach” in assisting such tenants and will seek to understand their individual circumstances.

It also has various assistance measures to help them, and refers families who need financial aid to social service offices.

For example, HDB helps those who want to reduce their rental burden to move to smaller flats, said Mr Wong.

It has helped 159 such families move from two-room to one-room flats in the last three years, the “vast majority”of which had four or fewer people in the household.

Upon appeal, HDB also reduces rent for families that experience a change in financial situation, like a drop in income.

Tenants who need more time to pay rent are allowed to pay arrears in instalments.

Mr Wong said the termination of tenancies is taken only as a last resort, and “would not be solely due to the accumulation of rent arrears”.

There has only been one such termination in the last three years.

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