Sep 20, 2013

    Cheaper flat rental still a worry

    COUPLES who have yet to marry and are waiting for their flats to be built, welcome the policy tweak that would allow them to rent a cheaper flat.

    But many told The Straits Times that they are not rushing into a decision as the financial costs might outweigh the benefits of privacy and space.

    On Wednesday, the HDB expanded the eligibility of the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme to include engaged couples. These couples are now allowed to rent a vacated flat, at about 40 per cent cheaper than the market rate, in locations like Ang Mo Kio, Boon Lay, Bedok and Dover.

    But they must produce their marriage certificate within three months of moving in.

    Some, like software engineer Kelvin Chen, 27, said the move is a boon. He lives with his parents and sister in a five-room flat in Choa Chu Kang. He is getting married next year and is waiting for a four-room flat in the same town to be completed in 2017.

    "Once we get married and my wife moves in, it might get a little congested in the mornings, especially the bathrooms and kitchen," he said.

    But the price, even subsidised, is a factor that could hold back many couples, said industry watcher Chris Koh.

    For instance, the monthly rental for a four-room Bedok unit is $1,200. Over a three-year period, this adds up to over $40,000.

    "These are en bloc flats and, although refurbished, are typically about 30 years old. But such an option is still far more feasible than renting from the open market, given that their locations are good," he said.

    Soon-to-be-married couples The Straits Times spoke to were keenly aware of the expenses ahead of them, such as renovation bills. They said that, even at the subsidised rate, the rental payments could be put to better use servicing a home loan.