Why have 99-year leases for HDB flats?

Residential properties with 99-year or shorter leases are not unique to Singapore, or to public housing. Cities like Hong Kong have residential properties sold on 50-year leases and Canberra has a 99-year leasehold system

In land-scarce Singapore, the leasehold system allows land to be recycled and re-developed, to meet the needs of future generations of Singaporeans. If flats are sold on a freehold basis, there won’t be enough land to build new flats for future generations, and our society will become divided between those who own a property and those who do not.

Since 1967, all sites for private residential land in Singapore have also been sold on leases of not more than 99 years. Flats sold on a full 99-year lease are more than sufficient to cover you and your loved ones for life.

Do I really own my HDB flat, or am I just renting the flat from HDB?

HDB flat buyers who purchase a new 99-year lease flat own the rights to their flats for 99 years. Likewise, buyers of a 99-year leasehold private property own the rights to their property for the duration of their lease, and would also regard themselves as home owners.

There’s a difference between renting and owning a flat. Here’s a summary:

Why do HDB flat owners have to pay property tax?

Property tax is a tax levied on the ownership of properties. Hence, owners of private residential properties (both freehold and leasehold) as well as HDB flat owners pay property tax.

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