Minister Confirms That You Cannot Buy a BTO & Not Live in It for 5 Years

BTOs are the archetypal affordable apartments of our society. 

In high demand, many typically wait years before getting the keys to them. 

As such, you’d expect owners to be appreciative of their flats. 

However, some choose to leverage the low cost as a money-making venture. 

Turns out that’s illegal. 

Minister Confirms That You Cannot Buy a BTO & Not Live in It for 5 Years

On Monday (19 December), Minister for National Development Desmond Lee announced in a Facebook post that citizens cannot buy a BTO flat and resell it expensively after years of not using it. 

“I was asked whether a family can buy (an) HDB BTO flat, not live in it or move into it for five years, and then sell it as ‘almost brand new’ on the resale market,” he began.

“The answer is no.”

Explaining why, he said the flat must be occupied by the owner for the whole Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP).  If not, the “flat needs to be returned to HDB.”

Following this, HDB will put the flat up as a balanced flat for other home buyers to apply for. 

The minister has also highlighted that HDB will investigate any breach in the HDB rules. 

Ending off, he wrote: “Suspected misuse of flats can be highlighted to HDB at Toll-Free Hotline: 1800-555-6370.”

Moral of the story? Don’t try to cheat the system.


For BTO flats, the MOP is five years. 

In these five years, owners cannot list their flats on the open market or rent them out entirely. Rental for individual rooms is still permitted, but the owner must occupy at least one bedroom and ensure that each rental period is at least six months. 

Also, they aren’t allowed to purchase any form of private property. 

That said, there are some exceptions. 

If you’re bankrupt,  divorced, or unable to pay your home loans, HDB will allow you to sell your flat. 

Additionally, if you plan to move abroad permanently and are renouncing your citizenship, HDB will permit you to sell your house early. In doing so, you will also get your CPF money back. 

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Featured Image: Desmond Lee/ Facebook