Work pass applications to require stricter housing-rule compliance

28 Aug 18

SINGAPORE

IMPACT – HIGH

What is the change? The Ministry of Manpower will soon begin checking the addresses of work pass applicants to make sure they are housed in compliance with all housing regulations. Authorities will also begin requiring work pass applicants living in Housing Development Board flats to be registered as tenants with HDB before their pass is issued.

What does the change mean? Employers and foreign nationals should be sure they meet MOM housing requirements when applying for work passes. For those living in HDB flats, tenancy agreements must be submitted before passes will be issued. Employers are encouraged to use this checklist to ensure that their employees staying in private residential units are housed properly.

  • Implementation time frame: Sept. 14.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work passes.
  • Who is affected: Employers and foreign nationals applying for work passes.
  • Impact on processing times: Applicants who do not meet housing requirements may have their applications rejected or delayed.

Business impact: A completed Occupants Declaration Form and an IRAS Property Tax statement must be completed by the property owner and submitted to MOM at this email address before work passes will be issued.

Background: Housing requirements for foreign employees vary, depending on the type of housing arrangement. Some key requirements are as follows:

  • One- or two-room HDB flats may have no more than four occupants. HDB flats with three or more bedrooms may have no more than six occupants.
  • HDB flat owners may not rent bedrooms in one- or two-room flats and may not rent more than one bedroom in a three-room flat and no more than two rooms in a four-bedroom flat.
  • Flats that are rented from the HDB may not be sublet.
  • Private residential premises, including condos, landed residential properties, terrace houses, semi-detached houses and bungalows, may house no more than six people per unit, no matter how large. The only exception is for people with an existing tenancy agreement from before May 15, 2017, in which case private residential premises may be permitted to house up to eight people.

In some cases, additional restrictions may apply based on nationality. Employers should check to make sure that HDB flat owners registers their employees with HDB before they move in. They should also be sure to obtain a copy of the HDB approval letter.

A full list of the housing options for foreign workers and MOM’s housing requirements is available here.

BAL Analysis: Singapore continues to be aggressive in enforcing its housing laws for foreign workers. Employers are required to exercise due diligence to make sure housing requirements are met. Those who fail to do so risk not only having work pass applications rejected, but also facing prosecution and a ban on hiring foreign workers in the future.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider in Singapore. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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