HDB Rules You Never Knew Existed

HDB unspoken rules

With up to 80% of the population living in HDB flats, Singaporeans are more than familiar with these public housing flats. However, despite some of us spending quite literally the bulk of our lives living in an HDB flat, how familiar are we with HDB rules? You’d think you’d be crystal clear on what’s illegal to do in your own house – but to our surprise, there are actually a few HDB rules that many people are blissfully unaware of! Read on to check if you’ve ever unwittingly flouted some of these rules!

1. It’s Illegal to Walk Around Naked in Your HDB Flat If Your Neighbours Can See You

Yes, we understand. The weather in Singapore can be frustratingly humid. You can be covered in a sticky sheen of sweat just mere seconds after taking a refreshing shower. The urge to lepak in your birthday suit at home is surely tempting.

Unfortunately, under the law, you cannot be naked in your HDB flat if you’re exposed to public view. Given how HDB flats are usually in pretty close proximity to one another, you don’t want your poor neighbour to accidentally have an eyeful of your nude body!

Privacy matters aside, you can actually be arrested by the police if your neighbour reports you. If charged, you may face a face a fine (not exceeding $2000) or a jail term (not exceeding 3 months). That’s a really hefty price to pay, so be mindful!

2. You’re Not Allowed to Hang Wet Laundry Outside Your Flat

HDB residents are more than familiar with the use of bamboo poles to hang their laundry to dry. In fact, the sight of numerous bamboo poles sticking out the sides of HDB flats has become a quintessential Singaporean quirk.

However, did you know that you have to ensure that the laundry you hang outside to dry are not dripping wet? This rule was likely made out of consideration for neighbours living on the floors below. No one likes to be greeted by the rude sight of your own laundry soaked with water dripping from above!

Do be considerate and wring your laundry before hanging them out to sun dry!

3. You Can’t Teach More Than 3 Students at A Time for Tuition at Home

It’s no secret that the tuition industry in Singapore is booming. While some parents opt for classes at tuition agencies, others opt for home tuition. As the name suggests, this entails tutors carrying out tuition lessons in the comfort of their own home. If you hold group tuition at home, do note that you’re technically not allowed to have more than 3 students at a time!

Another important rule that’s relevant to home tutors (and other home-based businesses) is that you are not allowed to register your address as a business address! In other words, while home-based businesses are allowed, they have to be operated only at a small scale. Furthermore, businesses that are disruptive to neighbours (e.g. blasting loud music) are also not allowed.

4. You’re Not Allowed to List Your Flat for Rental to Tourists on Airbnb

In recent years, Airbnb has enjoyed quite a bit of popularity, cementing itself as an attractive alternative to typical hotel stays for tourists. From the perspective of the hosts (i.e. the people who list and rent out their rooms/flats), Airbnb presents a lucrative earning opportunity as well.

Unfortunately, this is one money-making opportunity that you have to forgo. It is considered illegal to rent out any part of your flat to tourists on Airbnb. To legally rent your rooms, you must follow HDB regulations which include a minimum rental contract of at least 6 months.

Considering renting your house or unit? Check out Should You Rent or Buy A Property in Singapore?

5. You’re Only Allowed to Rear One Dog in an HDB Flat

Sorry dog lovers, you’re only allowed just one dog in the flat. And yes, this rule applies to all HDB flats, regardless of the size. In addition, your pet dog must belong to one of the 62 pre-approved breeds. You can be fined up to $4000 if your dog’s breed is not one of the approved ones.

6. You’re Not Allowed to Have Cats in an HDB Flat

If you’re feeling stumped by the previous rule, wait till you hear about the HDB regulations regarding cats! Cat lovers will probably think that dog lovers have it good, as cats are totally not allowed to be kept as pets in HDB flats. The reasoning behind this rule is apparently because cats defecate and shed fur, making them more undesirable. Nonetheless, this issue has been brought up in Parliament in recent years. It remains to be seen if this rule will be abolished. Fingers crossed!

7. It’s an Offence to Smoke in The Corridor

It’s illegal to smoke in common areas in HDB flats. This includes the void decks, staircase landings and of course, the corridor. This HDB rule has good intentions clearly – to protect your neighbours from the harmful effects of second hand smoke.

So, the next time you choose to light up, remember to do so either in your house or somewhere downstairs away from your block.

8. You’re Not Allowed to Remove the Balcony Sliding Doors of Your BTO Flat

Some newer BTO flats come with their own balconies, fitted with balcony sliding doors. You may be tempted to remove these sliding doors and replace them with doors of your choice that fit your aesthetic. Unfortunately, your creative juices for interior design have to be curbed when it comes to the balcony sliding doors in your HDB flat.

According to the HDB renovation rules, removal or replacement of the original balcony sliding doors are strictly prohibited. This rule is similar to the one regarding HDB flat windows. Violation of this rule comes with a hefty penalty; you can face up to $5000 of fines.

Thus, steer clear of the balcony sliding doors in your renovation works and channel your creative energy to decorating other parts of your flat instead!


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