Our millionaire ministers have recently passed the Moneylenders (Amendment) Bill last Tuesday which introduced a new ruling affecting landlords. For all tenancies after Feb 1, landlords will have to provide details about their tenants to HDB. Those already subletting their flats have been given a 6-month grace period to register with the HDB.
The move is a response to the increasing number of loansharking and harassment cases. I mean, look at the figures they released. 18,645 cases in 2009, compared to the 11,879 in 2008 and 10,221 in 2006. Now that’s quite a jump. Of course, last year was a pretty bad financial year, so an increase in cases should’ve been expected. Also, there have been several publicized cases of borrowers renting rooms and, upon moving out, gave loansharks their old addresses. The ones who get harassed are the landlords and new tenants.
Failure to comply with the new ruling brings with it a $3,000 fine and repeat offenders could also have their flats seized by the board for ‘unauthorized use of flat’.
While the act further buoys the government’s ‘Big Brother’ reputation, personally I don’t think it’s such a big deal. All it requires is a simple registration and you still don’t have to seek approval from the HDB before you sublet your place. There’s really not much reason to not let the government know where you stay anyway, and the increased protection afforded to hapless landlords and their neighbours far outweighs the costs.
There’s another implication for the real estate industry. From time to time, some agents will ‘forget’ to charge their clients the appropriate stamp duties (essentially a government tax). While it might save the clients some (not insubstantial) money, it also means that both parties won’t have any legal recourse in the event of a dispute. Doubt they can do that anymore.
Here’s the list of things that you’ll have to provide the HDB if you’re subletting your apartment:
- Subletting start / expiry dates
- No. of rooms sublet
- Rental per month
- Name of sub-tenant
- Household structure of sub-tenant (family or individual)
- Identification number of sub-tenant
- Nationality, citizenship and ethnicity
- Work pass type
- Work sector (service, construction etc)
- Reasons for sub-letting
So what do you think of the new law? A measured response or are we spiraling towards an Orwellian society?