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HDB flatowner illegally sublets 4-room flat to 24 tenants, who go unnoticed for 4 years

The Independent logo The Independent 25/3/2019 Jewel Stolarchuk
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Twenty-four tenants who were crammed into a single 4-room Housing Development Board (HDB) flat at 403 Pandan Gardens went unnoticed for four years, thanks to the sly rules instituted by a landlord who illegally sublet his flat to four times the maximum number of tenants HDB allows.

According to current HDB rules, flatowners have to obtain HDB’s approval before renting out their bedrooms or entire units and must adhere to an occupancy cap set out by the authority. Landlords who own a four-room HDB flat can rent the home out to a maximum of six tenants (two tenants per bedroom).

Contravening these rules, one landlord rented his four-room flat out to a whopping 24 individuals and demanded that they adhere to certain strict rules meant to avoid attracting the attention of the authorities. The illegal subletting went unnoticed for four years.

The Chinese daily was alerted to the overcrowded unit and paid a visit to the apartment recently. The publication reported last week that the 24 tenants were crammed into three bedrooms with nine bunk-beds and one living room that was partitioned into two rooms.

According to the publication, eight people lived in one bedroom while the other two bedrooms housed six people each. The living room was partitioned into two and each portion was rented out to one couple each. This brings the total number of tenants to 24.

Interestingly, most of the tenants had never seen the owner of the flat. The publication reported that most of the matters, including rent, were handled by another tenant who lived in the flat.

One unnamed tenant told the Chinese daily that the landlord imposed strict rules to avoid getting caught. The tenants were barred from answering the door, cooking in the flat, or hanging their clothes outside the unit to dry. The tenants were also told to avoid turning on the lights at night and ensure that the windows are tightly shut.

Despite these strict rules, the illegal subletting came to light. For contravening HDB rules and breaching the HDB lease agreement, the owner of the flat could be fined or see his flat being repossessed by HDB.

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