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Who Gets To Keep The HDB Flat After The Divorce?

Are you wondering what happens to properties like an HDB flat after divorce?  

Divorce is something we would avoid as much as possible.

But sometimes, all efforts to save the marriage fail. The cracks in the relationship are too much to repair.

Divorce is not an easy matter, whether emotionally, mentally, or financially. It even gets more complicated when dealing with the HDB flat.

If they think they can simply get 50% of the asset, they are wrong.

Is the HDB or BTO flat a matrimonial asset?

The first thing to know when determining the fate of the HDB flat is whether it is a marital asset or not. Even if the couple lived in the flat, this is not a deciding factor with its status.

  1. It would be a marital asset if the couple purchased the flat under the HDB fiance-fiancee scheme or during the marriage.
  2. If one of the parties purchased the flat before marriage, it could also be a matrimonial property in two ways.
  • The flat has undergone improvement during the period of marriage. And you can make this improvement either by one party or by both of them.
  • The flat has been used by the couple and their children (if any) for various purposes.

Simply, if the HDB or BTO flat has been inherited, gifted, or purchased (not under the HDB fiance-fiancee scheme) before the marriage, and they made no improvement, it is not matrimonial property.

HDB Flat Ownership Rules

Divorce HDB Less than 5 Years

If the flat is indeed a matrimonial asset, then the property must meet the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP). MOP is usually 5 years. Therefore, the couple should have been in that flat for at least five years to be able to sell it or for one of the parties to retain ownership.

If the couple has not met the MOP requirement, no one can retain the flat. Instead, it has to be returned to the HDB at prevailing HDB prices.

Retain HDB After Divorce

If there is an option to retain the HDB flat, they must decide who will keep the ownership.

Divorced with children

The party who has the custody care and control of the children will retain the flat provided that the other conditions have been met.

Divorced without children

If the couple has no children, one party can retain the property under the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme. However, the following has to be met first.

  1. The retaining party has to be a Singapore citizen
  2. Must be at least 35 years old
  3. The flat was from the open market without CPF Housing Grant for Family.

On the other hand, the party who wants to retain the flat can include another person to own the flat. However, HDB will still take note of other conditions according to its discretion.

Whose names are on the flat application

If the couple satisfied the MOP, then who will retain the flat if it is a matrimonial asset? Of course, the party whose parents’ names are initially on the HDB flat application will retain the flat.

Selling the HDB Flat After Divorce

No one can retain the flat if they fall on these factors:

  • If the married couple has divorced due to non-consummation of marriage
  • If the couple’s marriage has been annulled
  • Suppose the union has never pushed through. They broke as fiancée and fiancé.

If either side’s parents were originally listed in the flat application, the only exception is that.

Do not expect that the proceeds of the sold HDB Flat will be divided equally. Instead, it will be divided as deemed fairly by the court. There are a lot of factors to consider as mandated by section 112(2) of the Women’s Charter.

Factors under Women’s Charter

  • The party’s contribution in terms of finances, effort, and taking care of the home itself
  • Debts of the couple for their family’s benefit
  • The care for the family’s welfare, including their children and elderly relative dependent on the party
  • Legal mutual agreements under the Deed of Separation
  • Their child’s needs
  • Financial needs of each party
  • Length of the marriage of the couple
  • Benefits enjoyed by one of the parties in the flat in the absence of the other party
  • Assistance was given by one party to the other that helps in the job or business. It can either be material or immaterial.

The court usually considers these factors when deciding how the parties divide the matrimonial assets. The decision does not only depend on how much each one has paid for the flat, but it also considers each party’s welfare, especially if they have children.

Let’s say, the husband paid 70% of the HDB flat, and the wife only paid for the 30%. However, the wife was usually at home taking care of the family needs for the last 15 years.

Then, if they sold the HDB flat after their divorce, the court may give the wife a higher percentage of the proceeds than just 30% since she had improved the home through care for 15 years.

If there is still an existing housing loan, then the one who retains the flat will have to continue the repayments.