Being a single parent is hard, finding a home as a single parent (especially for an unwed parent) is even harder. In the years past, regulations by the Housing & Development Board (HDB) have made it hard for divorced, widowed or unwed parents to get a home for themselves and their children.
For instance, it was only in March 2018 that divorced persons were allowed to buy or own a subsidised flat each upon divorce.
The situation improved further in 2020 after Members of Parliament (MPs) repeatedly pushed for change. On 4 March 2020, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong stated in Parliament that the HDB will lower the minimum age for single parents looking to buy Build-to-Order (BTO) flats to 21, while making the 3-room flat type available to them.
The HDB will also now assess all applications by unwed parents (not just on a case-by-case basis as it had been previously).
This article is updated with the latest rules (as of 10 May 2020), so single parents can see what HDB flat they are eligible for at a glance.
Divorced or widowed parents
Divorced or widowed Singaporean citizens who are at least 21 years old and have children under their legal custody, care and control are able to form a family nucleus with their child in order to purchase a HDB flat.
As a family nucleus, divorced or widowed parents they can qualify for housing grants/subsidies and have greater access to new flats (i.e. BTO flats) if they are first-timers.
They may also be eligible for the Enhanced Housing Grant (EHG) if their household income is $9,000 or under. This is for both BTO or resale flat purchases.
Specifically for BTO flats, the HDB now sets aside up to 5% of 2-room flexi and 3-room flats in non-mature estates for divorced and widowed parents under the ASSIST scheme. To be eligible, the parent must have at least one child aged below 18 years old. The child can either be the natural offspring from the lawful marriage or legally adopted.
To qualify for the ASSIST scheme, the parent must not have acquired any interest in an HDB flat or private residential property after the date of divorce/separation or demise of the spouse (except for the matrimonial flat/property).
If the divorced or widowed parent successfully ballots for a BTO flat, he/she may be eligible for the Enhanced Housing Grant (EHG) amounting up to $80,000.
While waiting for their BTO flats to be built, divorced or widowed parents without a place to stay may also apply for interim housing options such as the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS).
Classification of HDB towns by maturity
|Mature Estates||Non-Mature Estates|
|Ang Mo Kio||Bukit Batok|
|Bishan||Choa Chu Kang|
For resale flats, divorced or widowed buyers with children may be eligible for the Proximity Housing Grant (PHG) if they are living with or near their parents regardless of whether they are first or second timers. If applicants are first-timers, meaning that they are currently not owners of, or have not previously sold subsidised flats, they may also apply for the Family Grant.
So, for resale flats, divorced or widowed parents can tap on a total of 3 grants for resale grants—EHG, PHG and Family Grant—amounting up to $160,000.
Q1 2020 Cheapest HDB towns based on median resale price (excluding grants)
|Choa Chu Kang
|Choa Chu Kang
(Click on the links in the above table to see your housing options.)
If the widowed or divorced parent is unable to afford a flat even with grants provided, he/she may wish to rent a one-room or two-room HDB flat under the Public Rental Scheme. This is applicable to widowed or divorced parents who are 21 years old and above, do not earn more than $1,500 a month in household income.
Previously: Unlike widowed or divorced parents, unwed parents were unfortunately not eligible to buy a new HDB flat as the parent and child were not recognised as a family nucleus. They would’ve been asked to wait until they turned 35 to buy a BTO flat/resale flat under the Single Singaporean Citizen scheme or Joint Singles Scheme (as a co-applicant).
According to the Ministry of National Development (MND), single unwed parents above the age of 21 (but below 35) have been allowed to purchase new two-room flats and resale flats in the past, but this was subject to a case-by-case basis.
Unwed parents were also ineligible for rental subsidies if they were to rent a flat from HDB.
Now: On 4 March 2020, the government signaled its commitment to support the housing need of unwed parents “to ensure that their children have a stable home to grow up in and a good start in life”. Unwed parents who approach HDB for housing assistance, including rental flats, will not be turned away. HDB has stated that it will assess each request “holistically and individually”.
For BTO flats, single unwed parents aged 21 and above are also now allowed to buy new 3-room flats in non-mature estates, compared to only 2-room flats in non-mature estates previously.
For resale flats, any unwed parent aged 21 and above may request to buy one. Unwed parents can simply approach HDB with their requests via email at [email protected].
For grants, the eligible unwed parent may qualify for the same grant amount as a single person (i.e. half the grant amount for divorced and widowed parents).
Unwed parents who cannot afford to buy any flat will be considered for public rental flat.
If you’re a single parent and encounter any further difficulties or obstacles, you may wish to reach out to the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) to get further advice and assistance.
What is your experience of buying a HDB flat as a single parent? Share it with us in the comments section.
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