Singapore’s housing remains a challenge for the LGBTQIA+ Community: Here’s why

5 min read

Discrimination is still a real thing, and it can be especially entrenched when it comes to housing. Some of you might already know race is an issue when it comes to renting; but did you know things are harder for LGBTQIA+ people as well? Here’s how:

For most Singaporeans, getting a flat is simple; but not for the LGBTQIA+ community

For single Singaporeans to get a flat, you have to be at least 35-years old; that’s done under the Single Scheme, or Joint Singles Scheme. If you want to get a flat earlier than that, you need to get married. Wherein lies the problem: gay marriage isn’t recognised in Singapore.

This leaves the LGBTQIA+ community with two painful options: either rent and wait till they’re old enough, or buy a resale flat or private property.

Angry lady scolding someone
There are effectively fewer housing options, for most of the LGBT community

If they opt to buy a resale flat, they’ll typically be paying a higher price than a BTO – plus the property would come with a shorter lease. And while private property is always an option, there’s a reason why around 80% of Singaporeans live in public housing – the minimum down payment on a S$1 million condo is S$250,000 (25% of property price or value), which puts it out of most people’s reach.

Understanding the problems this causes

We spoke to James (not his real name) on the difficulties experienced. He said that “getting that 25% ready and getting the loan approved” was the main problem, as well as issues such as building a credit record.

For private properties and bank loans, you can only borrow up to 75% of the value or price (whichever is lower). Furthermore, 5% of the house must be paid in cash.

James also mentioned:

I also spoke to some of my single colleagues, some of who waited till they were 35 to bid for a HDB flat; they shared their difficulties getting their preferred location, and their frustration when they always get the unwanted leftover flats.

They even advised me, if I have the intention of buying a condo, not to hesitate and find ways and means to make it work – because whether you buy it now at 27, or buy it later after selling your HDB at 40, you are still going to owe the bank regardless. So why not start earlier? Problem is the initial capital.

Person trying to loan money
If you can’t get a new flat, housing options get much more expensive

Want to know how much easier this is for, say, a straight and married 27-year old Singaporean couple?

They can buy a spacious 4-room BTO flat, at an average of S$430,000 before subsidies. 85% of the flat’s price is covered by an HDB loan, while the remaining 15% per cent can be paid through CPF.

Now LGBTQIA+ flat buyers can also get the same loan when they finally qualify to buy a flat; they too can get up to 85% HDB loan. But that’s only on the condition that they wait and rent till they’re 35.

Assuming it costs an average of S$2,000 a month to rent an HDB flat, someone who rents from 25 to 35 will be sinking a whopping S$240,000 into rental over 10 years.

So why not just stay with family in the meantime?

First off, anyone with a finger on the pulse of reality will know that’s naive. LGBTQIA+ or not, it can be unbearable to many to live at home till 35.

But for the community, there’s sometimes a more pressing need to move out. James, for example, mentions that he was forced to move out because his parents were less than accepting. Sam (not his real name) explains that he had to move out, because:

My mum still hasn’t accepted the fact I’m gay, despite coming out to her eight years back. I find the living situation untenable. It sucks when your own flesh and blood doesn’t acknowledge your sexuality. But it’s 10 times worse when living under their roof forces you into a tacit, unspoken agreement that you will tolerate their attitude.”

This results in a bit of a double-whammy: a community that’s more likely to need a place of its own, but struggles with getting a house.

But renting isn’t easy, either

Thankfully for the LGBTQIA+ community, most Singapore landlords won’t ask questions about sexuality. Most, not all. There are still incidences where landlords do question why two men stay together, for example; and there have been situations where property agents are instructed not to rent to LGBTQIA+ couples.

At 99.co, we believe that housing should be without discrimination. We’ve supported events such as Meet Your Next: Housemate by Prout & 99.co, where attendees mingled with other members of the LGBTQIA+ community facing the same housing issues, and had a discussion about housing-related questions with our panel of experts.


How do you think we can help the LGBTQIA+ community? Voice your thoughts in our comments section below.

If you found this article helpful, 99.co recommends Tenant tips for viewing properties to rent in Singapore and Below 35, single, desperate, and looking to move out. How ah?

Looking for a property?

Find the home of your dreams today on Singapore’s fastest-growing property portal 99.co! If you would like to estimate the potential value of your property, check out 99.co’s Property Value Tool for free. Also, don’t forget to join our Facebook community page or Telegram chat group! Meanwhile, if you have an interesting property-related story to share with us, drop us a message here — and we’ll review it and get back to you.

Note that this content may be reproduced in edited form on our content partner sites. They include AsiaOne and Yahoo South-East Asia but are not limited to these.

Get the latest news in your inbox

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.