Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP): Complete Guide for HDB Flats and Condos (2023)

PropertyGuru Editorial Team
Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP): Complete Guide for HDB Flats and Condos (2023)
It’s 2023, and after months of waiting for your apartment to be completed, you hear that your developer finally received their Temporary Occupation Permit, more commonly known as TOP, or Certificate of Statutory Completion, otherwise known as CSC. But what exactly is it?
Basically, when you buy a new property that’s still under construction, you won’t be able to move into a newly purchased property that is still being built or constructed until the developer receives the Temporary Occupation Permit. This permit is issued by the Building Construction Authority (BCA) and means that the project has been inspected to be safe to live in.
In this article, you’ll learn the differences between both and what they mean to you as a property owner.

What Is a Temporary Occupation Permit?

You might be wondering what a temporary occupation permit is. The TOP allows people to move into a development before the remaining amenities are completed. For instance, the living space of a condominium might be complete, but more work still needs to be done on facilities like the swimming pool and the playground.
Simply put, you can collect your keys and move in or rent your unit without waiting for the project to be fully completed, which usually takes a few more years.
Note that a temporary occupation permit differs from a Certificate of Statutory Completion (SCS). The CSC certifies that every aspect of the development has been completed. It takes a longer time to obtain the CSC, due to several key requirements the developer needs to meet. While the TOP requires developers to meet certain criteria, these are primarily confined to living spaces.
While the CSC is compulsory for residency in a completed building, the TOP is optional. A developer can apply for a TOP when the development has been completed and is in the process of obtaining a CSC.
Note that there are differences not just between the TOP and CSC, but also between that and the Legal Completion Date.
What is it?
Allows homeowners to live in a residential development despite certain amenities still incomplete
TOPs are optional
Allows a development to be legally occupied when granted
A TOP can be applied when the developer is in the process of obtaining a CSC
A CSC has to be eventually acquired
This is the date that the development obtains the Certificate of Statutory Completion

What’s the Benefit of Buying a TOP Project?

The main benefit of buying a TOP project is that you’re buying a property that is already ready to move in, instead of waiting for a newly-launched project to finish completion.
Since the TOP date is already met and the project is already completed (or close to completion), you’ll also get a good sense of what the unit will look like, unlike newly-launched projects where you have to rely on a floor plan. You can also rent your property out immediately.
Also, unlike buying a resale property, TOP properties are new. Meaning you don’t have to worry about wear and tear. Since it’s considered a new property, you’ll also be covered from any damaged items during the defects liability period.
However, keep in mind that you’ll need to pay the full condo price when buying a TOP property, which unlike a newly-launched property that hasn’t received its TOP, there is no Progressive Payment Scheme.

How to Check TOP Date for Condo or HDB Flat?

You can check if a TOP date for a condo or HDB has been successfully issued by checking the BCA TOP portal. But if your HDB or condo has not yet obtained a TOP date, you might wonder how long it takes to obtain one.

How Long Does It Take for an HDB Flat or Condo to Obtain a TOP?

On average, the waiting time can be up to four weeks upon application. If you’re curious about how the process works, this is how it goes.
The Qualified Persons (QP) submit a request for a site inspection to BCA to start the procedure. The QP will receive a proposal from BCA for an inspection date within two working days and must confirm the date one week before the inspection.
The request expires if the QP doesn’t inform the BCA, and the QP must reapply for a site inspection. Greetings from the realm of real estate development!
So, it can take up to four weeks before a TOP is awarded.
The "Express TOPs" process can be condensed to just one working day. ‘Express TOPs’ go through the same process as typical TOP applications. However, the Commissioner of Building Control will need compliance certificates from key technical departments.

Is There Anything I Can or Need to Do Close to the TOP Date?

You won’t have to do anything. There isn’t anything you can do to speed up the application of the TOP.
What you can do is plan the move into your new home! This is the best time to shop for any necessities you may have overlooked, such as toiletries and cutlery.
Since we’re on the topic of TOPs, let’s guide you along with your next milestone – the collection of keys to your new home.

What Do I Need to Bring For My Key Collection?

1. For New HDB Flat Owners

Here’s what you’ll need to bring for the key collection appointment for your new HDB flat. Take extra care not to forget any documents you’ll need for this big day. Confirm, then double-confirm!
Documents required
Identity Cards
For identity verification purposes
Certificate of fire insurance
HDB requires all homeowners to own a fire insurance policy from HDB’s appointed insurer. FWD Singapore is currently HDB’s appointed insurer, and you can visit their website to purchase the fire insurance policy.
Marriage Certificate
You’ll need to bring this if you’re buying a flat under the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme, and have applied for the Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG).
Singpass (either your mobile phone or token device)
Your SingPass will be used to authorise the transaction. Do ensure that you’ve set up your 2-Factor Authentication (2FA) before the key collection. Remember not to do this at the last minute as it can take up to 10 days to set up.
Power of Attorney
This needs to be provided if you cannot attend the appointment personally. If you are overseas, the attorney representing you must bring one certified true copy by the solicitors and two photocopies.
Completed GIRO forms
If you’re paying in monthly instalments or fully by cash

2. For New Condo Owners

If you’ve bought a new condo, all you need to bring is your IC for the key collection.
You can also authorise someone else to collect the keys on your behalf. Note that the authorised person will have to bring the original copy of the Letter of Authorisation and his/her IC during the key collection.

I’ve Gotten My Keys, What’s Next?

The next thing you’ll want to do is to check for any defects in your new home, whether it’s an HDB flat or a condo.
Your HDB flat or condo will be covered under a one-year warranty period known as the Defects Liability Period (DLP), starting from when you collect your keys.
Start by looking for obvious flaws, including uneven floor tiles, rusted hinges, or improperly closing windows.
Major defects shouldn’t be too tough to spot, and you’ll probably notice them as you go about your daily routines at home. Just remember that it’s best to report them early.
One thing that you might want to do before doing your defects inspection is to set up your utilities. This will allow you to conduct a more thorough check, such as testing for faulty wiring.
You’ll probably want running water available, too, if you want to wash your hands or do a little cleaning up.
But what if you’ve found some defects that you’d like rectified?

1. For New HDB owners

If you’ve found any defects in your HDB flat, you can fill up the Rectification Request form you received during your key collection and submit it online or approach your Building Service Centre.
This should be done no later than seven days after getting your keys or before you begin renovating your apartment. The project contractor will fix any issues you’ve mentioned within 14 days.
Note that if you find any defects during or after the renovation, you’ll have to rectify them at your own cost.

2. For New Condo Owners

For condominiums, the rectification request procedure is a little different.
To inform the developer of the flaws within the one-year DLP period, you must do so in writing.
After receiving your notice, the developer will correct the problem within one month.
Here’s a quick recap of the temporary occupation permit to wrap things up!
TOPs Temporary Occupation Permits in Singapore Infographics Propertyguru
We hope this article has helped you understand what is a TOP. If you need help financing your home purchase, do get in touch with our friendly mortgage experts. If not, all the best for your home-ownership journey!
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More FAQs About Temporary Occupation Permit in Singapore

According to its name, a Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) is a temporary permit. Imagine living in a property where the building and parking lots are already finished but the facilities still need improvement. This permission enables tenants to live in a habitable but unfinished construction.

The process begins with the Qualified Persons (QP) submitting a request for a site inspection to BCA. BCA will then propose an inspection date to the QP within 2 working days, who then has to confirm the date a week before the actual inspection.

Once you get either the TOP or the CSC, you will be able to move into your new house. As the BTO or condo project nears completion, the developer should give you more thorough information.