7 HDB Rules You Should Know To Avoid Flouting The Law Or Getting Neighbour Complaints

13 August 2021 | BY

Though most of us grew up in HDBs, we may not know that there are a few rules that we could be in danger of flouting. Here’s how to avoid a run in with the law.

So you’ve just applied for a BTO or you’re a seasoned homeowner doing some renovations and looking forward to your brand new HDB. Before you go all out, why not use the time to brush up on some of the rules and regulations of your dream home.

Our HDB blocks are the kampungs of our generation and there’s no better way to foster neighbourly spirits than making sure you don’t step on anyone’s toes – or worse, risk getting into trouble with the authorities. If you don’t want your neighbours to close the lift doors on you every time they see you approaching, make sure to keep these rules in mind.

1. No hanging of wet laundry

Image credit: Kenneth Tan

This should be a no-brainer for people with basic manners, but you would be surprised by the number of times some of us wake up to find the clothes we’ve hung out to dry overnight dripping wet.

The HDB rules state that you cannot hang wet clothes or dripping mops outside the window. Instead, ensure that all items are wrung dry first before hanging them out in the sun. Nobody likes to have their squeaky clean laundry being “rained” on by their neighbour’s hand-washed clothes.

2. Conditional renting of HBDs to visitors

Image credit:Maria Ziegler on Unsplash

If you have empty rooms in your home, you may be tempted to turn your HDB into a side hustle and advertise on shady rental sites. However, this is actually illegal under the HDB rental rules, as rental is subject to approval from HDB – and after you explicitly apply for permission to do so. l 

Additionally, only owners of 3-room flats and above can rent out their bedrooms. If your home is a 1-room or 2-room flat, you’re only allowed to rent out the entire flat, and in both cases the minimum lease for a tenant is 6 months. 

3. No running a large scale business from your HDB

Image credit: American Heritage Chocolate on Unsplash

You may have noticed an uptick of home baking posts on social media, as the circuit breaker last year has taught a lot of people, myself included, how to bake small pastries to pass the time. Some of the more ambitious have even started their own home baking business right out of their HDB.

While small scale businesses such as private tuition or baking your own cookies and selling are okay, medium to larger enterprises are generally forbidden. This is because certain business activities may cause disturbances to the neighbours, especially if it involves the use of heavy equipment or appliances not intended for home usage. 

Another rule is not to advertise your business around the housing premises. Putting up sign boards outside the door or even distributing pamphlets at your lift lobby is considered illegal according to HDB rules.

4. Keep noise levels down between 10.30PM to 7.00AM

While you may not be punished by the law for being a nuisance, this is more of a basic courtesy towards your neighbours. Unless you’re going to share your winnings, nobody wants to be woken up in the middle of the night to the sound of mahjong tiles being shuffled around.

If you are a night cat, don’t fret because here are some tips you can follow to minimise the noise level: 

  • Wear headphones when watching shows, playing audio from your TV/computer. 
  • Use rubber stoppers on the bottom of the furniture so that they don’t make noise when sliding them around. 
  • This can be applied to the edges of doors, so that when you close a door it doesn’t make a loud bang. 
  • Do it the next day: you don’t really need to make a smoothie at this time right?

And if you’re carrying out renovation works, there are certain timings to watch out for. Noisy renovation works (such as demolishing of walls) can only take place between 9.00AM and 5.00PM on weekdays while weekends, public holidays, and eve of major holidays are off-limits. 

5. No obstructing the corridor with shoe racks

None of us likes to track mud into the house with our dirty shoes, which is why we have designated shoe racks outside the home. But it’s important that the shoe rack we choose does not obstruct the entire corridor. The law states that a clear width of 1.2M must be maintained.

This is in case of a fire emergency and people need to evacuate quickly. This not only extends to shoe racks, but other items like potted plants and laundry racks are also not permitted if they exceed the stated width. Ultimately, no one likes to die in a fire because they couldn’t get past your Victoria’s Secret catalogue hanging in the corridor.

6. No installation of CCTV cameras outside of your home without permission

Image credit: SQ Feed

For those who are unfortunate enough to have their shoes or laundry stolen from the corridor before, installing CCTVs might seem like an obvious solution. 

While it is completely legal to install a CCTV camera in your HDB flat, you must apply for a permit to install one outside of the boundaries of your home. In addition to this, your application for the permit must include a written letter of consent from your neighbours. Additionally, it cannot face the door or windows of another flat to protect the privacy of your neighbours.  

7. No smoking outside your house, at the void deck or stairwell

Smokers should take note of this, as you’re only allowed to smoke inside of your house. This is because everywhere else is considered illegal as they are no-smoke zones according to the smoking act by NEA.

No-smoke zones include common corridors, staircase landings, stairwells, and the void deck. Nobody likes the smell of secondhand smoke, so be a considerate neighbour and smoke inside the house. 

Lesser-known HDB rules

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Jesus once said to love thy neighbour as thyself, which means that unless you like to step on puddles of pee in the elevator, it’s best to be considerate to others and have some basic manners.

Most of us grew up living in HDB flats, so some of these rules might be familiar. However, it’s still good now and again to have a refresher so that we can avoid getting into trouble with the law and spoiling our goodwill with the people who live beside us.

For more HDB explainers:

Cover image adapted from: Wikipedia commons, Scrummy Lane

This article was originally published on 13th August 2021, and was updated on 17th April 2024.

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