The Do’s and Don’ts of Living in a HDB Flat

In Singapore, skyscrapers are a common sight, whether they are built for residential or commercial purposes. As a small nation where the need for more land space is a common social issue in Singapore, having high-rise buildings to house residents is perhaps one of the most effective ways to conserve land space. Compared to landed properties, living in a HDB flat has its own rules that should be adhered to closely as they help to foster peace and harmony within the community.

Though most Singaporeans (approximately 81% 1 of us!) live in HDB flats, some of us may not be aware of the different do’s and don’ts entailed. As such, here are several practices HDB residents are expected to know and follow!

The Do’s of Living in a HDB Flat

Lower Your Volume Between 10.30pm and 7.00am Daily        

Most residents are ready to wind down after a long day of work and can’t wait to hit the sack. This makes it especially important to keep noise levels down so as not to disturb our neighbours. Contrary to popular belief, noise levels do not simply refer to how loud we are talking, it also pertains to television volume levels, playing of instruments and even moving of furniture. Additionally, if you plan on performing renovations or DIY work, do inform your neighbours beforehand and avoid works involving drilling and hammering during this time frame to prevent conflict with your neighbours.

Participate in Community Activities

Social Issues Activities In Community

The ‘kampong spirit’ is a term many of us might be familiar with. It is an integral part of Singapore’s heritage, encapsulating a sense of belonging and solidarity. In today’s day and age, digitalisation combined with our hectic lifestyles, diminishes the ‘kampong spirit’. This was what brought people together and formed tightly-knitted communities back in the old days. One way to rekindle this is to participate in community activities! Friendships with our neighbours can be forged and strengthened by joining in community volunteer work or interest groups (e.g. gardening).

Just always wear a mask and ensure that group sizes are aligned with current COVID-19 protocols.

Be Mindful of Cooking Smells

Cooking Smell As a Social Issues

Surprisingly, complaints of cooking smells are a common social issue when it comes to living in an HDB flat. What one might find appealing, another might not. In fact, recently, according to Mothership2, Marsiling residents had fought over pungent cooking smells, with an upstairs neighbour complaining about ‘oily smoke’ every day. To prevent cooking smells from wafting into neighbouring apartments, try closing some windows when cooking foods with strong aromas or use cookware lids when possible. If all else fails, mediation at a Community Mediation Centre may help in coming to an agreement with your neighbours. 

The Don’ts of Living in a HDB Flat

Do Not Smoke Along the Corridors

A Person Who Smokes an Example Of Social Issues

Smoking along the corridors of HDB flats, stairwells and void decks is illegal. Apart from the social issue of polluting the air around these communal spaces, the negative health impacts of second hand smoke can also affect neighbours who are exposed to it. Additionally, children are more vulnerable to the effects as their bodies are smaller and take in more toxicants than adults. Currently, thermal cameras have been deployed within residential areas to detect heat and capture images of smoking offences. While smoking in these areas is prohibited by law, smokers are permitted to smoke inside their own homes. 

Do Not Walk Around Nude at Home (when others can see you)

Did you know that appearing naked in public view, even in a private setting such as your home, would expose you to criminal liability? This is because the public does not have access to your home. Thus, any privacy concerns must be taken into consideration. A fine of up to $2000 and/or imprisonment of up to 3 months may be warranted. So, the next time you step out of the shower, ensure that your doors are closed and your curtains are drawn!

Do Not Rent Your Apartment out to Airbnb

If you plan to earn money by renting your apartment through Airbnb, it is important to be aware that HDB takes serious offence of unauthorised short term subletting of flats. Should you wish to rent out a room legally, a minimum 6-month lease is required for your tenant. Short-term subletting of a flat or bedroom is not permitted as it may create social issues, disrupt the living environment and pose security risks to residents. 

Choosing to live in a HDB estate means you are making a subconscious decision to be neighbours with many strangers. Observing the above do’s and don’ts will help us to be more considerate of others and live together in harmony!

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