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To own a home, is own a part of the nation.

And for over 50 years the Housing and Development Board has been providing the citizens of Singapore affordable and quality housing. And HDB rules have governed the 80% of the population living in HDB flats.

90% of the people living in HDB Flats own their flats. But, what happens when the HDB flat owner dies? How will the flat be transferred according to the rules? Does the Intestate Succession Act have any power to dictate HDB flat ownership?

What does the rules say about the change of ownership because of death? Can people give their HDB flats away in a will? Find out by reading the article below

What are the types of HDB flat Ownership?

According to the rules, there are three types of ownership that people who are buying HDB flats can choose from. And these choices of ownership type are:

  • Sole ownership
  • Joint Tenancy
  • Tenancy-in-common

Sole Ownership

This type of ownership applies to Singapore Citizens who are under the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme. People who are sole owners of their HDB flats are usually singles who are at least 35 years old. Or they can either be Singapore Citizens who have Non-Citizen parents.

Joint Tenancy

This is the most common type of ownership since these rules generally cater to couples married or engaged. Joint tenancy is ruled by the right of survivorship. Which means that if one of the owners dies, the surviving owner gains ownership of the HDB flat entirely. Joint tenancy is the common manner of ownership for all HDB Flats whether HDB BTO, HDB SBF or HDB ROF and even HDB resale flats.

Tenancy in Common

This type of ownership gives equity to the buyers depending on their contribution to the flats called shares. These shares can vary from 60% -40% to equal shares, or 70%-30%. The value of the shares depends on the co-owners.

Housing Development Board Rules and Wills

As stated earlier rules favour couples, and they most HDB flats are sold under joint tenancy scheme. This means that the HDB flats are under the right of survivorship. And according to the HDB ownership rules, when one of the joint owners dies the flat ownership will go to the surviving owner.

Joint tenancy is NOT Probate, which means that it bypasses the whole probate system and that includes the will. This means that HDB flat owners cannot give their flats to someone else in their will, because technically it is not part of their estate when they die. And the only way they can will away their flat to someone else other than their joint owners is by changing the manner of ownership into that of a tenancy in common.

Why Does the Housing and Development Board prefer Joint Tenancy?

Joint tenancy offers protection to its owners, unlike tenants-in-common. Flat owners who find that their co-owners have passed on will not be hassled by having to deal and live with the heirs who can claim flat ownership. And it also protects surviving owners from being kicked out of the flat by manipulative heirs of the deceased owners.


The transfer of HDB flat ownership depends on the type of ownership the purchaser chooses. But just because the right of survivorship applies owners of the flat shouldn’t be concerned with making a will and estate planning, because if both owners die then probate court and the Intestacy law would intervene. To prevent problems of HDB ownership in the future, couples and even singles should plan their estates well. That way their heirs can avoid disputes and even costly court proceedings.

Care to learn more about estate planning and to create rock-solid wills? Grab a copy of the book “The Rockwills Guide to Succession and Trusts in Wealth Management“. Now!