Planning to apply for a BTO flat in an upcoming BTO exercise? Before you decide which unit to ballot for, you will need to be sure you don’t mind living in the neighbourhood and estate for at least five years. That’s because of HDB’s Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) rule, which states that you cannot sell or rent out your entire HDB flat until five years after collecting your keys.
The HDB MOP is five years for most flats, except for Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) flats (10 years) and flats bought under the Fresh Start Housing Scheme (20 years). HDB flats acquired under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) can sell their unit after just five years after collecting keys, like most other HDB flat buyers.
In this guide, we will cover everything to do the HDB MOP, including what you can or cannot do during the MOP and any exclusions to the rule.
What Does MOP Mean?
HDB MOP is a rule that restricts you from selling or renting out the entire flat during the first five years of moving in. During the MOP, you are also not allowed to buy another private property.
The HDB MOP helps to prevent homeowners from ‘flipping’ their newly-purchased flat for a profit immediately. This curbs and prevents the ‘lottery effect’ from taking hold, especially for prime-district HDB flats.
Note that the HDB MOP starts from the day you collect your keys, and doesn’t include any period when you’re not residing in the flat.
For example, if you’ve lived in your flat for four years, and then spend a year living overseas, you’ll still be a year short of the MOP when you return. You need to live in your flat for another year before you can rent or sell your flat or buy another private property.
The duration of the MOP depends on how you purchased your flat, the flat type, and the date you applied for the flat.
|New HDB flats (including BTO, Executive Condominium (EC), and Design, Build and Share Scheme (DBSS))||Five years|
|New HDB flats under the HDB PLH Model||10 years**|
|Resale HDB flats* (2-room or bigger, applied on or after 30 August 2010)||Five years|
|SERS flats||Five years after receiving the keys|
|Flats bought under the Fresh Start Housing Scheme||20 years|
*There are some exceptions to the HDB MOP for resale flats, but these are rarities such as 1-room flats, or flats bought before 30 August 2010 without any CPF Housing Grants. See the full list of HDB MOPs here.
**There are more rules for future flats released under the PLH model. Read the full article here. The rest of the article will cover general rules for MOP HDB.
What Can’t You Do Before Your MOP HDB?
As mentioned earlier, you’re not allowed to list your flat on the open market for sale during your HDB MOP. It’s not limited to selling your flat, either. During the MOP, you can’t rent out your whole flat either. You can rent out individual rooms though. You must occupy at least one bedroom and make sure each rental is at least six months, otherwise, you run the risk of having your flat confiscated by HDB.
Should you choose to rent out your spare rooms, the standard rental and tenancy rules apply. You also can’t lock up a bedroom and pretend you live there while renting out the whole flat. This is illegal, and the consequences aren’t worth the income.
You are also not allowed to purchase any form of private property.
What About After the HDB MOP Is Up?
After you’ve met the MOP requirements, you can do the following, in most cases:
- Sell your flat
- Rent out the entire flat
- Buy another private property
However, note that for flats sold under the HDB PLH Model, you are not allowed to rent out the entire flat even after you have completed the extended 10-year MOP!
This additional restriction only applies to new HDB flats launched in prime (central) locations, starting from the BTO launch in November 2021. Existing HDB flats in these locations are not subject to the new rules.
If it’s your first time selling your HDB flat, be sure to read our guide to selling your home.
Why Is MOP HDB Important?
In Singapore, the primary role of an HDB flat is to provide housing, not serve as an investment. The MOP seeks to prevent people from buying flats and reselling them for higher prices immediately. The MOP framework, therefore, prevents property investors from driving up the prices of public housing.
As we’ve seen in the recent introduction of the PLH Model, which is a cooling measure to keep HDB flats in town affordable, the HDB MOP can be selectively adjusted to encourage or deter certain behaviours. In this case, the MOP was extended to 10 years to discourage property ‘flipping’.
MOP HDB Exceptions: Can I Sell My HDB Before MOP Is Over?
You can sell your flat back to HDB before the MOP is up if you meet certain special conditions, although whether or not you will be successful depends on your specific case.
The conditions are as follows:
|Bankruptcy||If you can avoid bankruptcy by selling your flat and downgrading to a cheaper one, HDB might allow you to do so.|
|Divorce||This tends to form the majority of the reasons for needing to sell the flat before the MOP. Both you and your spouse will be allowed to sell the house and then divide the proceeds.|
|Inability to pay home loan||In cases where the sole breadwinner of the family is unable to earn money due to death or disability, HDB may sometimes allow families to sell their flats prematurely.|
|Terminal illness||These are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.|
|Loss/renouncement of citizenship||If you’re planning to move abroad permanently, HDB may permit you to sell your house early. You’ll also be able to get your CPF money back.|
Note that for bankruptcy and/or divorce cases, you’ll need to meet a few more requirements before you are allowed to sell your HDB flat before the MOP is up:
If none of the HDB flat owners are Singapore Citizens (SCs), they are required to obtain the consent of the Official Assignee before they can sell the flat. If any of the flat owners are SCs, the consent of the Official Assignee is not required.
If you go through a divorce after meeting the MOP, you’ll need to produce the following documents:
- Writ for Judicial Separation; or
- Interim Judgment and Certificate of Making Interim Judgment Final; or
- Divorce Certificate (for Muslims); and
- Order of Court (if any)
You can get more information here on how to retain your HDB flat following a divorce.
How Can I Check the MOP of My HDB Flat?
To know more about your MOP, you would need to navigate My HDBPage. Don’t know how long you’ll need to wait before you can sell your flat or buy a new private property? My HDBPage is the page to go to.
Log in to My HDBPage with your SingPass. Under My Flat, head to Purchased Flat > Flat Details > Minimum Occupation Period (MOP).
Post-MOP: Is There Anything Else I Need to Know?
So, you’ve fulfilled the MOP and now you want to sell your HDB flat. Before you can sell your flat, you also need to check if you meet the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) and Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) Quotas.
The EIP quota seeks to maintain a balanced mix of ethnic groups in all HDB estates. This policy was implemented on 1 March 1989, as a means to “promote racial integration and harmony” in HDB estates.
The then Minister for National Development, S. Dhanabalan first highlighted the emergence of ethnic enclaves in HDB estates in a speech directed at community leaders on 6 January 1989. He cited examples of neighbourhoods within estates like Bedok and Tampines where Malay households made up more than 30% of the estate population and Hougang where more than 90% of the households are Chinese.
As a way to address the growing issue of communal clustering, the Government would adopt policies to maintain the ethnic balance and also serve as a means to foster social and racial cohesion.
SPR quota ensures SPR families can integrate well into the local community.
If selling your HDB flat causes the block/neighbourhood’s EIP and/or SPR quota to exceed, you will not be able to sell your HDB flat. Malaysians do not need to adhere to the SPR quota, since they have close cultural similarities with Singaporeans.
There is also no restriction on the sale/purchase of an HDB flat if both you and the buyer are of the same ethnic group and/or citizen type.
After you have registered your Intent to Sell, you can check the EIP/SPR quota of your flat on HDB’s Resale Portal.
MOP for HDB also applies to all BTO flats. If you’re applying for a BTO project within the upcoming BTO season, your MOP will also start from the day you collect the key – not when the development is built.
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