HDB Flats: Who’s Eligible and What Are the Available Schemes?

Young and happy Singaporean couple out on the street

When the topic of housing and homeownership comes up in Singapore, most of us will immediately think of HDB flats — the ubiquitous public housing blocks that more than 80% of Singaporeans live in. 

These HDB flats come with eligibility criteria requirements and other regulations set by the government, which are in place to ensure that these flats go to those who need it most.

HDB flats come in a variety of configurations to cater to the needs and requirements of citizens. These range from 2-room Flexi units to larger 5-room units and executive flats. Then, there’s also 3-Gen units, which cater to multi-generational families who live together.

 

So, who can buy an HDB flat?

HDB flats are, first and foremost, subsidised public housing that are meant for Singaporean Citizens, so not everyone is eligible to buy one. There are multiple eligibility criteria that need to be met beforehand.

General eligibility criteria

Eligible Applicant/ Family Nucleus

You qualify for at least one of the following schemes:

  • Public Scheme
  • Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme
  • Orphans Scheme 

Citizenship

At least 1 of the applicants for the flat must be a Singapore Citizen, and at least 1 other is a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident

Age

At least 21 years old

Income Ceiling

You are within the income ceiling of the flat you want purchase

Property Ownership

  • You don’t own any other property locally or overseas, and haven’t disposed of any within the last 30 months.
  • You haven’t bought a new HDB/DBSS flat or Executive Condominium or received any CPF Housing Grants before
    • Or, you’ve only bought 1 of those properties and only received 1 CPF Housing Grant before

 

Which eligibility scheme do I fall under?

In order to apply for an HDB flat, you’ll first need to check whether you fall under one of the three eligibility schemes.

Public Scheme

To qualify for this scheme, you’ll need to form a family nucleus with any of the following:

  • Spouse, and children (if any)
  • Parents, and siblings (if any)
  • Children under your legal custody, care and control (if widowed/divorced)

Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme

Under this scheme, you’ll form a family nucleus with your spouse-to-be, and if you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to solemnise your marriage within 3 months of getting the keys to your flat. HDB will require a photocopy of your marriage certificate. 

If you’ve solemnised your marriage before collecting the keys, you can submit the photocopy when you visit the HDB sales office to get the keys. 

If you’ve done it after key collection, then you’ll make the submission to your managing HDB branch.

Orphans Scheme

For this scheme, the applicants are orphans and single, and cannot buy/rent flats separately. Furthermore, one of the deceased parents will need to have been a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident. 

 

What if I don’t fit into any of the above schemes?

Perhaps your spouse isn’t a Singaporean Citizen or Permanent Resident, or you’re not planning to get married for a good while yet. There are a few other schemes that you might be eligible for, however the choice of flats you’re limited to will be 2-room Flexi flats.

Single Singapore Citizen Scheme

To qualify for this scheme, you’ll need to be:

  • A first-time homebuyer
  • Are at least 35 years old
  • Single (unmarried, divorced or widowed)

Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme

This scheme is applicable if you:

  • Are a first-timer applicant
  • Your spouse is neither a Singapore Citizen nor Permanent Resident

If you and your spouse have children from the marriage, and they are either a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident, you can apply for a flat under the Public Scheme instead.

Joint Singles Scheme

Under this scheme, you and up to 3 other co-applicants can apply for a 2-room Flexi, provided all of you fulfill the following criteria:

  • All of you must be Singapore Citizens
  • Be at least 35 years of age
  • Apply together as co-applicants

A new HDB housing estate.

One of HDB’s biggest factors for eligibility is the income ceiling

 

First-timers versus second-timers

If you’re a first-timer applicant, it means you’ve never received any form of housing subsidy or a similar benefit. 

If your spouse is a second-timer, but you’re a first-timer, you’ll both enjoy first-timer benefits if you apply as a couple.

Privileges for first-timer applicants

HDB

  • More flats are set aside for you
  • More chances in the ballot
  • Additional ballot chances for unsuccessful attempts
  • May be eligible for Staggered Downpayment Scheme

DBSS

  • During the initial launch period of 1 month, 95% of the flats will be set aside for first-timer families

EC

  • During the initial launch period of 1 month, 70% of the flats will be set aside for first-timer families

 

Check here for more information about priority schemes you’re eligible for if you’re a first-timer.

Buying

Check here for more information about priority schemes you’re eligible for if you’re a first-timer.

 

Income Eligibility

This is one of the most important criteria to be eligible for an HDB flat in Singapore. 

If your household income each month exceeds the ceiling for the flat you want to apply for, you won’t be able to purchase it, even if you fulfill the other criteria such as citizenship and family nucleus.

The monthly household income will include the income of all occupants you’ve listed in your flat application. 

Flat type

Income ceiling

4-room flat or larger

  • $14,000
  • $21,000 if purchasing with extended or multi-generation family

3-room flat

  • $7,000 or $14,000, depending on project

2-room Flexi

  • $7,000 for 99-year leases
  • $14,000 for short leases (15 to 45 years)

Income ceiling for extended or multi-generation families 

If you’re applying for a flat with your extended family, say a 3Gen, the income ceilings are calculated slightly differently. It’s based on the combined income of 2 groups within your family.

Parents with single children

Parents and 1 of the single children

Remaining single children

Parents with married children

Parents and remaining working children (if any)

The married children and their children (if any)

An example calculation would look something like this:

You,your spouse, and your 3 working children want to buy a new flat. Individually, your average gross monthly income is:

  • You: $5,000
  • Your spouse: $6,000
  • Child A: $4,000
  • Child B: $3,000
  • Child C: $2,000
  • You: $5,000
  • Your spouse: $6,000
  • Child C: $2,000

Total: $13,000

  • Child A: $4,000
  • Child B: $3,000

Total: $7,000

  • Group A: $13,000
  • Group B: $7,000

Total: $20,000

What counts towards my household’s monthly income?

HDB takes into account the following types of income for assessment:

  • Allowances (fixed/ variable) received on a regular basis (e.g. allowances for food, transport, laundry, uniform, etc.)
  • Sustenance allowance
  • Stipend

The following won’t be factored into your monthly household income:

  • Alimony allowance
  • Bonuses
  • Director's fee
  • Income from ad hoc overtime work
  • Interest from deposit accounts
  • National Service Allowance
  • Rental income
  • Scholarship overseas allowance
  • Overseas cost of living allowance
  • Pension

 

HDB loan eligibility

Most first-time homeowners will have to take out loans to pay for their flat, and have the option to choose between an HDB loan or a bank loan. 

If you’re planning on taking out an HDB loan, the requirements are as follows:

Citizenship

At least 1 buyer is a Singapore Citizen

Household Status

  • Have not previously taken 2 or more housing loans from HDB
  • Have taken 1 housing loan from HDB and the last owned property is not a private residential property (local or overseas) such as:
    • HUDC flat
    • Property acquired by gift
    • Property inherited as a beneficiary under a will or as a result of the Intestate Succession Act
    • Property owned/ acquired/ disposed of through nominees

Income Ceiling

Average gross monthly household income does not exceed:

  • $14,000 for families
  • $21,000 for extended families
  • $7,000 for singles buying a 5-room or smaller resale flat or a 2-room new flat in a non-mature estate, under the Single Singapore Citizen (SSC) Scheme

Property Ownership

  • You don’t own any other property locally or overseas, and haven’t disposed of any within the last 30 months prior to applying for your HDB Loan Eligibility letter
  • You don’t own more than 1 market/hawker stall or commercial/industrial property
    • If you do own one of these, you must be operating your business there and have no other sources of income

How much you can get in the loan will also depend on the flat’s remaining lease.

Remaining lease of flat >20 years and covers youngest buyer to certain age

HDB Housing Loan approval

≥ 95 years

Allowed, but subject to:

  • Loan-to-Value (LTV) limit of 90%


Loan tenure is the shortest of:

  • 25 years;
  • 65 years minus the average age of the buyers; or
  • Remaining lease at the point of flat application minus 20 years

< 95 years

Allowed, but subject to:

  • LTV limit of 90% is pro-rated based on the extent that the remaining lease can cover the youngest buyer to the age of 95 

Loan tenure is the shortest of:

  • 25 years;
  • 65 years minus the average age of the buyers; or
  • Remaining lease at the point of flat application minus 20 years

 

If you’re deciding between a bank loan and an HDB loan, consider these 4 factors before making a decision.

Home Financing

If you’re deciding between a bank loan and an HDB loan, consider these 4 factors before making a decision.

Are PRs allowed to buy HDB flats?

If you’re a Permanent Residents (PR) looking to buy a HDB flat, you can only buy resale ones. You’ll also need to meet these 4 main requirements:

  • You must be at least 21 years of age
  • You must have been a Permanent Resident for a minimum of 3 years.
  • Upon purchasing the resale flat, you cannot sell the unit or lease it out entirely within the 5-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP)
  • You can’t own any private property locally or abroad. Any private property owned will have to be disposed of within 6 months of purchasing the HDB resale flat 
    • However, once the 5 year MOP has been fulfilled, you can acquire private property without having to sell the flat.

Note that you can purchase a HDB resale flat only under the Public Scheme or the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme. What this means for you is that you can’t apply for the flat on your own, and will need to have a family nucleus for the application.

For the detailed eligibility criteria for the two schemes, you can read this article here.

Buying

For the detailed eligibility criteria for the two schemes, you can read this article here.

 

Now that you know the eligibility criteria for HDB flats, here are some more guides to help you choose the right flat:

Not sure what the difference between HDB’s offerings is? Here’s what you need to know about HDB sales launches!

HDB Guides

Not sure what the difference between HDB’s offerings is? Here’s what you need to know about HDB sales launches!

If you’re buying a resale flat instead of a BTO, we have a full guide on how the process goes.

Buying

If you’re buying a resale flat instead of a BTO, we have a full guide on how the process goes.

Click HERE to get more interesting guides like this, or check out PropertyGuru.

Property Guides

Click HERE to get more interesting guides like this, or check out PropertyGuru.

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