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Various types of housing and their specific requirements

There are various types of housing that your foreign employees can live in, each with its own set of requirements. Employers must carry out due diligence to ensure these requirements are met. Employers who fail to do so may be prosecuted, and disallowed to hire foreign employees.

BCA facilitates FCDs, CTQs and TOL quarters applications

From 2 June 2020, you must apply to BCA for FCDs, CTQs and TOL quarters. BCA will help with consultation and get the relevant agencies’ approvals. If you have further queries on approval processes, you can email bca_covid19@bca.gov.sg.

After getting approvals, you can get a designer or QP to follow up with the design and supervision of your type of housing that you applied for.

Purpose-Built Dormitories (PBDs)Show

What are PBDs

PBDs are specially designed and built with features to meet the needs of foreign employees:

  • Amenities, e.g. minimarts, dedicated cooking areas, etc.
  • Services, e.g. laundry, remittance, etc.
  • Recreational facilities, e.g. gym, outdoor games courts, etc.
Allowed to house All foreign employees.

We highly recommend you to:

  • Sign a written tenancy agreement with the dormitory operator.
  • Provide ways for employees to highlight problems with the housing to the dormitory operator, and work with the dormitory operator to rectify them.

Factory-Converted Dormitories (FCDs)Show

What are FCDs Industrial or warehouse developments which have been partially converted to dormitories.
Types of FCDs allowed
  • Ancillary FCDs: Houses workers employed by the owner or lessee of the factory, or workers who work on-site at the factory.
  • Single employer-operated secondary FCDs: Houses employer’s own workers (whether workers are working on-site at the factory or off-site) or sub-contractors’ workers.
Maximum permissible occupancy

300

Appeals for higher permissible occupancy will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To appeal, provide these information:

  • Need for higher permissible occupancy.
  • Alternative housing types have been considered.
  • Mitigating measures that will be implemented to ensure workers’ security and provision of adequate on-site amenities.

FCDs already in operation before 22 June 2020 can retain your existing occupancy load (including those exceeding 300 workers) until further notice. Such secondary FCDs can also continue to house workers from more than 1 employer until further notice.

What you need to do

If you’re operating an FCD to house your employees or your sub-contractor’s employees

Before you can register your employee’s address using OFWAS or EP Online, you must:

  1. Get BCA’s approval to construct FCD.
  2. Get clearance from the following agencies:
    • MOM to ensure that the FCD has basic facilities for the employees. Download and complete the FCD declaration form and email it to mom_fcd_approvals@mom.gov.sg for assessment.
    • A Qualified Person (QP) to design and supervise the change of use from factory to workers’ quarters. As a temporary exemption to expedite applications during the COVID-19 period, you don’t need to submit plans to SCDF for the proposed change of use and fire safety works to be carried out before occupying the premises or starting the fire safety works.
      The plans must be certified by a Singapore-registered QP and be available on-site at all times for inspection by MOM and SCDF officers.
    • NEA to ensure that temporary sanitation facilities will not result in disamenities or public health nuisance to neighbouring premises.
    • PUB to ensure adequate water supply and connection to the sewerage system.
    • PUB to ensure adequate water supply and connection to the sewerage system.
    • LTA to ensure smooth traffic conditions in the vicinity.
  3. Get a valid Temporary Written Permission from URA to house the employees in the industrial premises.

You should also:

  • Conduct regular checks on the state of the FCD, and put measures in place to ensure it is properly maintained.
  • Educate your employees on the expected level of housing standards.
  • Educate your employees to highlight problems with their housing to the dormitory operator, and work with the dormitory operator to rectify them.

If you’re housing your foreign employees but not operating the FCD

We highly recommend you to:

  • Sign a written tenancy agreement with the FCD operator.
  • Educate your employees to highlight problems with their housing to the dormitory operator, and work with the dormitory operator to rectify them.

If you’re operating an FCD that houses foreign employees employed by different employers, and they don’t work at the same work location, applications to increase the maximum number of residents will not be approved.

Construction Temporary Quarters (CTQ): Standalone Temporary QuartersShow

What are Standalone Temporary Quarters Any structure used for housing employees within a construction site that will eventually be demolished or removed.
Allowed to house Construction sector foreign employees working at that particular construction project.
Maximum permissible occupancy

300

Appeals for higher permissible occupancy will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To appeal, provide these information:

  • Need for higher permissible occupancy.
  • Alternative housing types have been considered.
  • Mitigating measures that will be implemented to ensure workers’ security and provision of adequate on-site amenities.

CTQs already in operation before 22 June 2020 can retain your existing occupancy load (including those exceeding 300 workers) until further notice.

What you need to do

If you’re operating standalone temporary quarters to house your employees or your sub-contractors’ employees

Before you can register your employee’s address using OFWAS or EP Online, you must:

  1. Get BCA’s approval to construct CTQ quarters. Include these in your submission to BCA:
  2. Get MOM’s approval before constructing any quarters.
  3. After getting MOM’s approval, get approvals from the following:
    • As a temporary exemption to expedite applications during the COVID-19 period, Singapore-registered Qualified Person (QP) doesn’t need to submit building plans to SCDF for approval, but must certify the plans of the temporary quarters.
      The plans must be available on-site at all times for inspection by MOM and SCDF officers.
    • NEA to ensure that temporary sanitation facilities will not result in disamenities or public health nuisance to neighbouring premises.
    • PUB to ensure adequate water supply and connection to the sewerage system.
  4. For CTQs with occupancy load of 200 or more, SCDF highly recommends that you:
  5. Email the documentary proof of all the above agencies’ approvals to MOM at ofwas_ctq@mom.gov.sg, to be allowed to register employees at this type of housing.
MOM’s forms
Other agencies’ forms
(samples only)

You should also:

  • Conduct regular checks on the state of the CTQ, and put in measures to ensure it is properly maintained.
  • Educate your employees on the expected level of housing standards.
  • Educate your employees to highlight problems with their housing to the dormitory operator, and work with the dormitory operator to rectify them.

If you’re a sub-contractor housing foreign employees in a CTQ

We highly recommend you to:

  • Check on the living conditions, and approvals of the CTQ before signing a written tenancy agreement with the main contractor.
  • Inform your employees to highlight problems with their housing to the dormitory operator, and work with the dormitory operator to rectify them.

Construction Temporary Quarters (CTQ): Quarters in uncompleted permanent buildingShow

What are quarters in uncompleted permanent building They are parts of buildings still under construction that are used for employees’ quarters.
Allowed to house Foreign employees working in the construction sector only.
Maximum permissible occupancy

300

Up to 6 persons in residential units under construction.

Appeals for higher permissible occupancy will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To appeal, provide these information:

  • Need for higher permissible occupancy.
  • Alternative housing types have been considered.
  • Mitigating measures that will be implemented to ensure workers’ security and provision of adequate on-site amenities.

CTQs already in operation before 22 June 2020 can retain your existing occupancy load (including those exceeding 300 workers) until further notice.

What you need to do

If you’re operating a CTQ in a building that’s still under construction to house your employees or your sub-contractors’ employees

Before you can register your employee’s address using OFWAS or EP Online, you must:

  1. Get BCA’s approval to construct CTQ quarters. Include these in your submission to BCA:
  2. Get MOM’s approval, before constructing any quarters.
  3. After getting MOM’s approval, get approvals from the following:
    • As a temporary exemption to expedite applications during the COVID-19 period, Singapore-registered Qualified Person (QP) doesn’t need to submit building plans to SCDF for approval, but must certify the plans of the temporary quarters.

      The plans must be available on-site at all times for inspection by MOM and SCDF officers.
    • NEA to ensure that temporary sanitation facilities will not result in disamenities or public health nuisance to neighbouring premises.
    • PUB to ensure adequate water supply and connection to the sewerage system.
  4. Email the documentary proof of all the above agencies’ approvals to MOM at ofwas_ctq@mom.gov.sg, to be allowed to register employees at this type of housing.
MOM’s forms
Other agencies’ forms
(samples only)

You should also:

  • Conduct regular checks on the state of the CTQ, and put in measures to ensure it is properly maintained. Use the checklist for CTQ as a guide.
  • Educate your employees on the expected level of housing standards.
  • Educate your employees to highlight problems with their housing to the dormitory operator, and work with the dormitory operator to rectify them.

If you’re a sub-contractor housing foreign employees in such CTQs

We highly recommend you to:

  • Check on the living conditions and approvals of the CTQ before signing a written tenancy agreement with the main contractor.
  • Educate your employees to highlight problems with their housing to the dormitory operator, and work with the dormitory operator to rectify them.

Temporary Occupation Licence (TOL) quartersShow

What are TOL quarters

TOLs are temporary occupation licences issued by a government agency (or their managing agents) owning the land. They allow employers to establish temporary quarters on a plot of land that’s typically near a construction site to support a specific project.

TOL quarters can be:

  • Pre-fabricated temporary buildings
  • Refurnished buildings
Allowed to house Foreign employees working in the construction sector only.
Maximum permissible occupancy

300

Appeals for higher permissible occupancy will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To appeal, provide these information:

  • Need for higher permissible occupancy.
  • Alternative housing types have been considered.
  • Mitigating measures that will be implemented to ensure workers’ security and provision of adequate on-site amenities.

TOL quarters already in operation before 22 June 2020 can retain your existing occupancy load (including those exceeding 300 workers) until further notice.

What you need to do

If you’re operating temporary quarters on TOL

Before you can register your employee’s address using OFWAS or EP Online, you must:

  1. Get BCA’s approval to construct TOL quarters. Include these in your submission to BCA:
  2. For any TOL quarters not located within the construction site and which is not more than 2 storeys or not more than 3 years, adhere to the SCDF requirements.
  3. For any TOL quarters not located within the construction site that cannot fulfil the criteria of not more than 2 storeys or not more than 3 years, you need to submit plans to SCDF for approval and to obtain Temporary Fire Permit or Fire Safety Certificate from SCDF.
  4. Get MOM’s approval before constructing any quarters on the TOL land parcel.
  5. After getting MOM’s approval, proceed to get approvals from the following:
    • As a temporary exemption to expedite applications during the COVID-19 period, the Singapore-registered Qualified Person (QP) doesn’t need to submit plans, unless specified in point 3 (above), for change of use and fire safety works to SCDF for approval, before occupying the premises or starting the fire safety works.

      A set of building plans, certified by a QP must be available on-site at all times for inspection by MOM and SCDF officers.
    • NEA to ensure that temporary sanitation facilities will not result in disamenities or public health nuisance to neighbouring premises.
    • PUB to ensure adequate water supply and connection to the sewerage system.
  6. Email the documentary proof of all the above agencies’ approvals to MOM at ofwas_ctq@mom.gov.sg, to be allowed to register employees at this type of housing.

If you’re operating permanent buildings as quarters on TOL

You must:

We highly recommend you to:

  • Conduct regular checks on the state of TOL quarters, and put measures in place to ensure that it is properly maintained.
  • Educate your employees on the expected level of housing standards.
  • Educate your employees to highlight problems with their housing to the dormitory operator, and work with the dormitory operator to rectify them.

If you’re a sub-contractor housing foreign employees in TOL quarters

We highly recommend you to:

  • Check on the living conditions, and approvals of the TOL before signing a written tenancy agreement with the main contractor.
  • Educate your employees to highlight problems with their housing to the dormitory operator, and work with the dormitory operator to rectify them.

HDB flatsShow

What are HDB flats Public housing flats managed by the Housing and Development Board (HDB), which may be rented out as a whole flat or by rooms, subject to HDB’s approval.

Allowed to house

The following foreign employees are allowed to rent HDB flats:

  • Employment Pass holders
  • EntrePass holders
  • Personalised Employment Pass holders
  • S Pass holders
  • Work Permit (WP) holders who:
    • Are Malaysians.
      or
    • Work in the services sector.
  • Non-Malaysian WP holders from the manufacturing sector are allowed to rent bedrooms, but not the whole flat.

The number of bedrooms that flat owners can rent out and the maximum number of tenants and occupants allowed in each flat depends on the flat type as shown below.

Whole flat

Flat type Max number of occupants
1-room or 2-room 4
3-room 6
4-room or bigger 6

Bedrooms

Flat type Max number of bedrooms
1-room or 2-room Not allowed
3-room 1
4-room or bigger 2

Note: Flats rented from HDB cannot be sublet.

For more info, refer to the HDB website.

What you need to do

Before you can register your employee’s address using OFWAS or EP Online, you must:

  • Ensure that the HDB flat owner registers your employees as tenants with HDB before they move in. Your employees can use HDB’s eService to check if the flat owner has registered them as tenants of the flat.

We highly recommend you to:

  • Sign a written tenancy agreement with the flat owner.
  • If your employees rent the place themselves, encourage them to sign a written tenancy agreement with the flat owner.
  • Get a copy of the HDB rental approval letter from the flat owner.
  • Conduct regular checks on the state of the HDB flat. Use the checklist for HDB as a guide.
  • Educate your employees on the expected level of housing standards.
  • Provide ways for employees to highlight problems with the housing, and make arrangements with the flat owner to rectify them.

Private residential premises (PRPs)Show

What are PRPs Private properties such as condominiums, landed residential properties, terrace houses, semi-detached houses, bungalows, residential units in shop houses, etc.

Allowed to house

All foreign employees.

From 15 May 2017, you can house a maximum of 6 occupants per unit, regardless of the unit size.

If you have an existing tenancy agreement before 15 May 2017, you can:

  • House up to 8 occupants until the existing tenancy agreement ends.
  • House up to 8 occupants until 15 May 2019.
  • Whichever is earlier. After that, the maximum number of occupants is 6.

For more info, refer to URA’s website.

What you need

If you’re unable to update your employee’s address in OFWAS or EP Online, you must:

  1. Ask the home owner to check and remove the work pass holders who are not staying at their premises using Foreign Worker Tenant Enquiry Service (FWTES).
  2. After the home owner has removed the work pass holders, you can update your employee’s address in OFWAS or EP Online.

We highly recommend you to:

  • Sign a written tenancy agreement with the PRP owner.
  • If your employees rent the place themselves, encourage them to sign a written tenancy agreement with the PRP owner.
  • Conduct regular checks on the state of the PRP, to ensure no overcrowding and that the living conditions are satisfactory. Use the checklist for PRP as a guide.
  • Educate your employees on the expected level of housing standards.
  • Provide ways for employees to highlight problems with their housing, and make arrangements with the PRP owner to rectify them.