Spot checks to root out private owners

(Image from Singapore Tourism Board)

HDB owners can now expect random spot checks to ascertain whether they also own private property in Singapore or overseas. One of the government’s measures was that those who buy an HDB resale flat on or after Aug 30 must dispose of their private property – including any held overseas – within six months of the HDB purchase.

One of the most widely discussed issues raised by this was just owners of foreign property would be held accountable. However, while Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan announced that the public housing authority will conduct spot checks both locally and overseas, to determine whether HDB flat buyers already own private property, he was unable to give any details of exactly how this would be carried out.

‘For practical reasons, HDB adopts different approaches to check on private property ownership in different countries’ said Mah, ‘I am unable to disclose the details to avoid hampering HDB’s enforcement work.’

Despite Mah’s statement, tracing private property overseas will be extremely difficult, given the confidential nature of transactions conducted outside of Singapore. No cases of dual HDB and private property ownership have arisen yet.

Those guilty of false declarations can be liable to a fine of up to $5,000 or to imprisonment for a term up to six months, or both. If the false declaration is discovered before completion of the purchase, HDB can cancel the application.