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    Sep 01, 2014

    HDB Lease Buyback may vary by age

    ELDERLY flat owners who join the Lease Buyback Scheme may be given the option to retain more or fewer years of the lease on their flat. This is part of the Government's considerations in looking at ways to make the scheme more flexible so that it appeals to more Singaporeans.

    Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said this yesterday, during a post-National Day Rally dialogue for young people in Sembawang GRC, adding that his ministry is set to announce the changes this week.

    Under the scheme, retirees retain 30 years of the lease on their flat and sell the remaining period to the Housing Board in return for monthly payouts. The proceeds can be used to top up their Central Provident Fund Retirement Account for annuity payouts.

    But depending on when they join the scheme, said Mr Khaw, some seniors may find the 30-year lease too long or too short. For example, those who join when they are younger may worry about outliving the lease period, while those who join at 80 years old may find the 30-year period too long.

    To address these concerns, he said the Government could vary the period of the lease that it buys back.

    He suggested, for example, a 35-year period for those who sell part of the lease back at 65 years old, so that it would last until they are 100 years old.

    Those joining the scheme late may be able to sell a longer part of their lease to get a bigger lump sum, he said.

    His comments follow Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally speech, in which Mr Lee said the Lease Buyback Scheme will be extended to owners of four-room flats.

    Mr Khaw said yesterday that this makes about 75 per cent of seniors eligible for the scheme, compared with about 35 per cent previously, when it was limited to owners of smaller flats.

    At a separate dialogue session in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean was asked why the scheme was not extended to include even larger flats.

    He said the scheme is for retirees who want to continue living in their own flat. He added: "We don't need to encourage people to stay in flats which are much bigger than they really need."