HDB Ownership Transfer: Eligibility and Application Guide

PropertyGuru Editorial Team
HDB Ownership Transfer: Eligibility and Application Guide
There are various reasons why you may consider an HDB ownership transfer, which not only includes passing ownership entirely to someone new, but also adding new and removing existing owners to your property. A change in family circumstances (and thus, living arrangements) could easily be caused by an upcoming marriage or child, and less fortunate events like divorce and financial difficulties.
If you’d like to find out more about how to make a flat ownership transfer, here’s a detailed guide so you’ll know what to expect and whether you’re eligible to apply for it.

What is an HDB ownership transfer?

As mentioned above, an HDB ownership transfer is when you transfer, include, withdraw and/or substitute owners for your flat. Presently, you are only allowed to do this with an immediate family member and for specific, valid reasons only.
In the past, anyone who owned an HDB could initiate an ownership transfer to family members for any reason thinkable. For example, you could transfer your flat to your child as part of your inheritance to them.
However, soon after the introduction of the Additional Buyer Stamp Duty (ABSD) in 2011, HDB realized that people were using the ownership transfer rule as a loophole to avoid paying ABSD. HDB homeowners would transfer their HDB flats to immediate family members, and then go on to purchase a second private property. Since they did not own multiple properties in name, they could avoid paying the ABSD.
Thus, effective 1 April 2016, the conditions were amended such that HDB ownership transfers can only take place if there’s a change in your existing family structure due to divorce, marriage or death, or if you need to do an ownership change to retain the flat. The new homeowners must still fall under the HDB flat eligibility schemes (e.g. Fiance/Fiancee scheme, Single Singapore Citizen Scheme, etc).

Am I eligible to apply for an HDB ownership transfer?

Once you have established a clear reason for your flat ownership transfer, the next step is to check that the proposed homeowners (i.e. your family member(s)) are eligible to become new owners. The eligibility conditions are as follows::
Eligibility Condition
Reason for ownership transfer
There must be either 1) a change in the existing family structure (such as divorce, marriage or demise of an owner), or 2) the existing homeowners need to do an ownership change to retain the flat due financial or citizenship status.
Must be immediate family member of the existing owner (e.g. spouse, parent, child or sibling)
21 years old and above
Of the proposed owners, there needs to be at least one Singapore Citizen (SC). If all of them are Singapore PR (SPRs), they must have been an SPR for at least 3 years.
Property ownership
Proposed homeowners cannot be an existing owner of another HDB flat (including DBSS).
If they own a private property, they must ensure that 1) the existing property has already met its minimum occupancy period (MOP), 2) at least one of the proposed homeowners is a Singapore Citizen and 3) all proposed homeowners and listed occupiers must continue to live in the HDB flat upon ownership transfer.
The proposed owner(s) must not have infringed HDB and/or government rules, regulations and/or policies, and been debarred by HDB for the infringement.
Eligibility scheme
The new homeowners must qualify under one of the HDB eligibility schemes:
a. Public scheme
b. Fiancé/fiancée scheme
c. Single Singapore Citizen Scheme
d. Joint Singles Scheme
e. Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme
f. Non-Citizen Family Scheme
g. Orphans Scheme
h. Conversion Scheme

What types of HDB ownership transfers are there?

According to HDB, there are four main ownership changes under this rule:
Inclusion of homeowners
Adding your son/daughter into the list of HDB homeowners
If your parents are facing financial hardship, they can add you as an owner, especially if you are drawing a consistent salary.
Withdrawal of homeowners
Removing your son/daughter from the list of HDB homeowners
Your son/daughter has gotten married and wants to apply for his/her own HDB flat.
Removing your spouse from the list of HDB homeowners after a divorce
This can happen post-divorce if one spouse agrees to transfer the HDB flat ownership to the other spouse.
Substitution of homeowners
Substitute your son with your daughter (original owner)
One of your children is getting married and wants to apply for his/her own HDB flat.
Outright transfer
Ownership transfer from you to your son/daughter
Death of the original owner means that the immediate family needs to do an ownership transfer to another member in the family

What must I prepare before applying for the HDB ownership transfer?

The ownership transfer process is a long one, and before you can actually get down applying for it, you will need to sort out your finances. Aside from assessing your current finances, you’ll need to take up a mortgage and appoint a lawyer for conveyancing.
For convenience, here’s a quick 4-step checklist to go through before taking the plunge:

Step 1: Assess your finances

In order for the proposed homeowners to take up HDB homeownership, their finances will need to be assessed — They will need to pay the administrative fees, stamp duties, conveyancing fees and valuation fee.
Additionally, if the original owners have an outstanding mortgage, the proposed homeowners will need to pay off what is owed (either in cash and CPF money) or take up a new housing loan to pay for the HDB flat at market value. At the same time, they will need to refund the CPF money (including accrued interest) of the original homeowners.

Step 2: Taking up a new mortgage

In most circumstances, the proposed homeowners won’t have enough assets (cash + CPF money) for the outgoing homeowners’ CPF refund and discharge of the existing mortgage. As such, they will need to obtain a new housing loan, either with HDB or a bank.

HDB housing loans

If the proposed homeowners want to take up an HDB home loan, they will need to apply for the Home Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter. The HLE will indicate the maximum loan amount, loan repayment period and estimated monthly loan instalment if the proposed homeowners were to take up the HDB loan.

Bank mortgage

If the proposed homeowners choose to opt for a bank home loan instead, they will need to get an in-principle approval from the bank. Similarly, the in-principle approval will indicate the maximum loan amount that the bank will extend to the proposed homeowners.

In-Principle Approval (IPA)

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Step 3: Settle outstanding payments owed to HDB

Both the existing homeowners and proposed homeowners need to collectively settle any outstanding payments owed to HDB. These may include the outstanding resale levy or sales premium and upgrading payments.

Step 4: Appoint A Lawyer For The Conveyancing

In the eyes of HDB and the law, ownership transfer of HDB is akin to selling your house, i.e. a conveyancing transaction. Thus, both the existing homeowners and proposed homeowners will need to engage a lawyer to handle the transaction. You can decide to appoint either an HDB or private lawyer.
The lawyer will handle the paperwork and discharge the existing mortgage (if any) on the behalf of the original owner. For the proposed owner, the lawyer will help to prepare the legal documents required in the new mortgage loan.

Finally, how do I apply for an HDB ownership transfer?

If the proposed homeowners are assessed to be in good financial health to become an HDB owner, you can then submit your application.
All existing and proposed homeowners will need to submit the application (via MyHDBPage) and the required supporting documents (via MyDocHDB). Only one person will need to fill in the form completely; after which the rest of the applicants can just give their consent via MyHDBPage.
HDB will assess the ownership transfer application based on the complete set of e-documents submitted through MyDocHDB. You will receive a letter once your application is approved, and it will contain important details like the estimated fees payable and things to prepare before attending the final appointment to finalize the ownership transfer.
After that, all existing and proposed homeowners (and their spouses) will need to head down to the HDB branch office for the final appointment. This is when you’ll execute the legal documents, confirm the new mortgage, and pay all the required fees (like the resale levy and upgrading costs).
The ownership transfer should take around 10 weeks to complete once HDB receives the complete set of the ownership transfer application.

What’s next after the HDB ownership transfer?

It’s worthy to note that even after the ownership transfer is complete, there are a few homeownership rules and regulations that the new and original homeowners must abide by. Here’s an overview:

For existing homeowners

Conditions for existing homeowners
To take out another HDB loan, existing homeowners need to use all your CPF monies available for housing and up to 50% of the cash consideration.
Seller’s stamp duty (SSD)
If you acquired the flat on or after 20 Feb 2010 and effected the HDB ownership transfer before the holding period was up, you will need to pay the seller’s stamp duty.
Minimum occupation period (MOP)
If you have withdrawn your ownership from a subsidised flat, you will need to meet a 5-year time bar (excluding any period of renting out and non-occupation) from the date of purchase of the flat before you can apply to buy another subsidised flat.
Resale levy
If you are planning to purchase another subsidized public housing (i.e. HDB, EC), you may need to pay a resale levy.

For new homeowners

Conditions for new homeowners
New homeowners must reapply if you want to rent out the flat. Any existing approval will be terminated.
Seller’s stamp duty (SSD)
You may need to pay a Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD) if you dispose of the flat within a certain holding period.
Minimum occupation period (MOP)
You will need to meet the minimum occupation period of 5 years before you can rent or sell the flat.
And that’s it!
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