According to experts, this is a common industry practice known as ‘decoupling’, whereby one spouse surrenders his or her co-owner status to become an authorised occupier of the flat.
Between 2012 and 2015, the Housing Board approved an average of around 6,000 ownership transfers a year. The most common reasons were divorce, marriage, death of an owner and financial hardship.
Under the new rules which came into effect in late April, transfer of ownership is only allowed for divorce, marriage, medical reasons, death of an owner, financial hardship and renunciation of citizenship, said an HDB spokeswoman.
HDB flat owners who wish to relinquish their ownership in favour of another family member are no longer permitted to do so, except on certain grounds based on the new rules introduced by the Housing Board, reported The Straits Times.
Previously, owners could freely transfer their unit to their spouse or an immediate family member, and many did so to avoid paying the seven percent Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) when purchasing a second home in Singapore. Signature At Yishun is one of the most affected ones with this new implementation.
The practice became even more widespread after January 2013 when the ABSD was imposed on second-time home buyers in a bid to control rising property prices.
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