The Housing & Development Board has responded to a forum letter asking whether Singaporeans are truly home owners or just tenants in their own “homes”.

Mr Larry Leong wrote in a forum letter on 24 June about the problem of expiring leases for public housing flats. He says problems with leases that expire in 99 years, which result in Singaporeans being left homeless after their leases expire, and an incident where HDB officers referred to him as a “tenant” in an email communication left him wondering whether Singaporeans living in HDBs can truly be called “home owners”.

Responding to Mr Leong, the HDB defended its stance in this letter (http://www.straitstimes.com/forum/letters-in-print/hdb-buyers-are-home-owners-not-tenants): “Flat owners enjoy rights to exclusive possession of the flat during the tenure of the flat lease.

“They can sell, let out, and renovate their flats, within the guidelines specified in the Lease and Housing and Development Act.

“The name of each HDB flat owner is reflected in the title deed, the original of which is kept with the Singapore Land Authority, as part of the central and comprehensive record for all properties in Singapore. This confirms his or her ownership of the property.

“We would like to clarify that HDB does not use the term “tenant” to refer to those who have bought a flat, as Mr Leong had mentioned.”

Netizens however, were quick enough to catch onto the apparent irony of their statement.

One netizen, Han, wrote: “My deed is with Singapore Land Authority, means it is not with me! Which other places in the world where home owners do not own their own title deed and have to be restricted by so many rules under this and that act or regulation? Use your brains?”

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