HDB: The thin fine line between “Joint Tenancy” and “Tenancy-in-Common”

In Singapore, more than 80% of the residents live in HDB flats. Yet how many are aware of the various HDB regulations and its implications to themselves and their loved ones? Not knowing the rules can potentially land you in financial troubles, but may also cause family disharmony and destroy relationships. One of the most overlooked clause is the Manner of Holding, specifically, “Joint Tenancy” and “Tenancy-in-Common”. Read on if you are a joint owner of a HDB flat and is curious to find out how it can impact you.

When you are buying a HDB flat with your spouse or other family members, you would need to decide on the manner of holding the flat upon the transfer of flat ownership, either through joint tenancy or tenancy-in-common.

Technically, under joint tenancy, all the flat owners have an equal share in the flat. However, in the event of a demise of any joint owner, the right of survivorship applies and his interest in the flat would automatically be passed on to the remaining co-owners. This is regardless of whether the deceased joint owner has left behind a Will.

According to an example quoted from HDB’s website “Mr A, Mrs A (wife) and Mr C (son) own an HDB flat under joint tenancy. In the event of Mr A’s demise, the ownership of the flat will automatically be passed to Mrs A and Mr C.”

On the other hand, under tenancy-in-common, each co-owner holds [This is a premium article. The rest of the content is blocked and can be accessible by SG Wealth Builder Members only. To read the full content, please sign up as member.]

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4 thoughts on “HDB: The thin fine line between “Joint Tenancy” and “Tenancy-in-Common”

  • October 15, 2015 at 4:54 am

    As far as HDB is concerned, there is another scenario thatis even more critical that maybe you should investigate and highlight.

    Assuming a man and a woman get married and purchase a 500K HDB. The woman, earning more, paid 200K upfront for the HDB.

    One year later, they fall out and have a divource and sell off the HDB.

    The 200K that the woman paid will be spilt 50/50 between them. That’s the real life case that may be have occurring more.

  • February 14, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    This is exactly what is happening in my family now. My mother paid 87% of the cost of our flat through cpf and the renovation/furniture cost. Yet she was not told of the options and falls into the assumed Joint Tenancy category. My father now refuses to sign the papers to switch to Tenancy-In-Common so that we children can share 80% of the house (just my mother’s share but note she paid more than this). My mother is worried that my father will sell the house after she pass on, leaving us (3 children at mid 20s) with no roof over our heads. Many may think my mom is being overreacting but my father had committed adultery (he has another child in malaysia who is 3 months younger than me) which the other party had been squeezing my father for money for 20 odd years. Is there any law/procedures that can force owners to sign and make the switch to Tenancy-In-Common?

  • April 5, 2017 at 4:00 am

    I just stumbled on this site.

    I came across quite a few cases of this nature. At least HDB has changed its style of presentation.

    Previously, its staff when processing and getting applicants to sign stacks of documents including the ‘ownership manner of holdings’ just simply assumed that as long as the buyers are married couples, they will tick as JT (joint tenancy). It takes much time to explain this topic alone and there are so many other forms to sign. That’s why it should be worth engaging an agent who will go through the process and explain this JT to the buyers.

    HDB, correctly, will not want to get entangled into this potentially ‘courts matter’. The dispute will have to be adjudged in court.

  • April 7, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Hi Fred,

    To be frank, I don’t think agent will advise HDB buyers or sellers on this rule unless you specifically raise it to them.
    Part of the reason why I started this blog is to raise awareness of personal finance to readers.
    Hope you find it useful.


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