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Property: Want to rent out your HDB flat? Read this first.

To help with household expenses, 61-year-old William Chan did what many HDB flat owners do - monetise his asset by renting out a spare room in his three-room HDB flat. In the last four years, three tenants have come and gone, and none of them regiestered with the HDB. 45-year-old homeowner Tan XL, on the other hand, has been leasing out two bedrooms in her five-room flat and keeping one room as a storage space while she and her family were living in her parents' flat. Both William and Madam Tan have unknowingly been flouting the HDB's regulation.

Over the years, it can be hard to keep up and comply with the latest HDB subletting rules and its changes. Read on to find the answers you've been look for, as a would be "landlord".

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(image: www.propertyupdate.com.au)

I am a HDB flat owner. Why do I need to inform HDB if I want to rent out my flat?

Well, you don't actually "own" the unit, you only own the lease for 99 years. Technically, HDB is the real landlord. This differs from private properties built on 99-year leasehold land; such owners actually own the land for the period of the lease. Once you have fulfilled the minimum occupation period of five years (or three years, if you bought an unsubsidised flat without getting a CPF grant before Aug 30, 2010), you are free to sell and profit from your flat.

How do I apply for HDB's permission?

If you are only subletting a room, you don't need HDB's approval to do so. However, you must inform HDB (click here) within seven days of the commencement date of subletting. This includes tenancy termination subsequent renewals, and changes to your tenants' particulars within seven days of these changes. 

Make sure you continue to live in the flat with the subtenants or your registration will be revoked immediately. You will also be considered to be subletting the whole flat without HDB's approval and you might be forced to give up your unit. (Renting out your whole flat is only allowed for Singaporeans.)

Who can I rent to?

Anyone who is a Singaporean citizen, Singapore PR, or a non-citizen holding an Employment pass, S-pass, work permit (contruction workers and Malaysian nationals only), Student pass, Dependent Pass, or long-term social visit pass, with validity of six months.

It is your duty to verify your potential tenant's immigration status at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority's iEnquiry website, and if their passes are valid at the Ministry of Manpower's website.

What can I rent out?

Only bedrooms. The living room, bomb shelter, or utility rooms do not count. If you own a two-room flat or a smaller unit, you cannot lease out the bedrooms and can only sublet the entire flat, to a maximum of four people. The maximum number of people you can house in a three-room flat, including tenants, is six. Four-room or bigger units can take a maximum of nine occupants, regardless of how many bedrooms your unit has. Such owners can sublet a maximum of two bedrooms.

What's the minimum subletting period?

Six months. Subletting on a short-term basis via webstites such as Airbnb and Roomorama are strictly not allowed in HDB flats. Previously, owners can rent out their whole HDB flat for three years per application, regardless of the nationality of the tenants. However, since Jan 16, 2014, if at least one of your foreign subtenants is not a Malaysian, this will be halved to 18 months.

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