More elderly flat owners are signing up for the Lease Buyback Scheme. There has been a surge in applications for the scheme after changes in April took effect to make more households eligible and offer more flexibility.
The scheme allows elderly flat owners to sell part of their lease back to the Housing Board for retirement income. It has been updated several times since its introduction in 2009.
After the latest round of changes in April, 779 applications were received from April to September, which was more than double the applications received in the six months after the previous revision in 2013.
Close to half of the applications were from owners of four-room flats, who previously were not eligible for the scheme before the change. The latest change covers 75 per cent of elderly HDB households.
The monthly household income ceiling was also raised from $3,000 to $10,000 in April, and to $12,000 in August. Other changes include offering a choice of the length of lease to be retained, and more cash upfront from the proceeds.
In total, 251 households who applied after April’s changes were successful in applying for the Lease Buyback Scheme.
Before a successful application, HDB has to confirm each household's eligibility and provide personalised financial counselling, to help applicants make an informed final decision.
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Source: “Spike in HDB lease buyback applications” (Straits Times, 21 October 2015)