Landlord Leverage or Tenant Tightrope? Inside the Controversial Increase to 8 in larger HDBs unit.

Cramming 8 into a 4-room HDB? More like maximizing your square foot! Uncover the realities (and secrets) of this policy from both sides, plus tips to make it work.

Photo by Maria Ziegler on Unsplash
Photo by Maria Ziegler on Unsplash

Imagine the morning chaos: Eight souls, bleary-eyed and coffee-craving, jostle for space in a cramped 4-room HDB kitchen. Toast pops, milk spills, and the air crackles with the tension of shared space. This, my friends, is the new reality for some Singaporeans, thanks to the controversial increase in the occupancy limit for larger HDBs unit from 6 to 8.

What is the Policy?

In April 2023, the Singapore Housing and Development Board (HDB) announced the increase in occupancy limits for larger HDB flats. This allows families with more than six members, or those with extenuating circumstances, to apply for permission to house up to eight occupants. The rationale behind the policy is multifaceted: addressing the needs of growing families, maximizing underutilized space, and potentially easing the housing crunch. However, legal considerations and concerns about overcrowding and infrastructure strain remain.

Maximize Your Square Footage:

So, how do you transform your unit into a functional haven for eight? The key lies in space optimization and creative thinking. Here are some tips for both landlords and tenants:

Living Room:

  • Multifunctional furniture: Foldable sofas, nesting tables, and ottomans that double as storage are your best friends.
  • Vertical storage: Utilize wall shelves, hanging organizers, and even ceiling hooks to keep clutter off the floor.
  • Space dividers: Room dividers can create designated zones for different activities, maximizing privacy and comfort.


  • Compact appliances: Invest in mini-fridges, microwaves, and multi-cookers to maximize counter space.
  • Vertical storage: Utilize wall-mounted cabinets, magnetic spice racks, and hanging pot racks to keep essentials close at hand.
  • Meal planning: Coordinate meals to avoid kitchen clashes and utilize shared cooking times efficiently.


  • Bunk beds and loft beds: These space-saving heroes are essential for maximizing floor space and creating individual sleeping nooks.
  • Storage solutions: Under-bed drawers, wall-mounted shelves, and collapsible storage bins keep belongings organized and out of sight.
  • Natural light: Maximize natural light with sheer curtains and strategically placed mirrors to create a sense of spaciousness.

Shared Spaces:

  • Declutter ruthlessly: Get rid of unnecessary belongings and maintain a clean, minimalist aesthetic to avoid overwhelming the space.
  • Utilize vertical space: Wall-mounted shelves, hanging plants, and even vertical gardens can add functionality and visual interest.
  • Clear pathways: Ensure smooth traffic flow by keeping walkways clear and furniture strategically placed.

Pros and Cons for Landlords:


  • Increased rental income: Housing eight occupants can potentially lead to higher rental revenue, especially in sought-after locations.
  • Flexibility in tenant selection: Landlords can cater to larger families or groups, potentially expanding their tenant pool.
  • Leveraging underutilized space: By maximizing occupancy, landlords can make better use of their property and potentially increase its value.


  • Higher wear and tear: More occupants mean more wear and tear on the property, leading to increased maintenance costs.
  • Legal risks: Exceeding occupancy limits or subletting regulations can lead to fines and legal repercussions.
  • Managing larger groups: Dealing with the needs and concerns of eight tenants can be challenging and time-consuming.
  • Maintaining tenant satisfaction: Ensuring a comfortable and harmonious living environment for eight people is no easy feat.

Pros and Cons for Tenants:


  • Potentially lower rent per person: Sharing the cost of rent among eight can significantly reduce individual expenses, making housing more affordable.
  • Sharing resources: Groceries, utilities, and even internet bills can be shared, leading to cost savings and potentially fostering a sense of community.
  • Building community: Living in close quarters can promote stronger bonds and a sense of belonging, especially for families or close-knit groups.


  • Privacy concerns: Sharing a small space with seven others can significantly impact privacy and personal space.
  • Noise and overcrowding: Managing noise levels and maintaining comfort becomes a crucial challenge with eight occupants.
  • Increased wear and tear responsibilities: Tenants may be held responsible for maintaining the property, leading to additional work and potential conflict with the landlord.
  • Potential conflict with the landlord: Differing expectations and preferences from eight occupants can lead to disagreements and tension with the landlord.

Tips for Tenants:

  • Set clear ground rules: Establish house rules regarding noise levels, shared spaces, and responsibilities to ensure everyone's comfort and needs are met.
  • Open communication: Maintain open communication with both the landlord and other tenants to address issues promptly and prevent conflict.
  • Embrace compromise: Be flexible and willing to compromise on small details to create a harmonious living environment for everyone.
  • Utilize community resources: Leverage community resources like public spaces, libraries, and recreational facilities to avoid feeling confined within the HDB flat.

Strategies for Landlords: Maximizing Profit While Mitigating Risks

While the prospect of increased income in housing eight tenants may be enticing, navigating the realities of this policy requires careful planning and strategic thinking. Here are some key strategies for landlords to consider:

Preemptive Investment:

  • Durable Finishes and Appliances: Opt for high-quality, wear-resistant finishes and appliances to minimize maintenance costs and potential damage from increased wear and tear.
  • Storage Solutions: Install built-in shelves, cabinets, and under-bed storage options in shared spaces to encourage organization and optimize floor space.

Tenant Selection and Agreements:

  • Thorough Background Checks: Perform meticulous background checks on potential tenants, scrutinizing credit history, references, and past rental behavior. Prioritize tenants with a history of responsible living and clear communication skills.
  • Detailed Lease Agreements: Draft a comprehensive lease agreement outlining clear expectations for rent payment, noise levels, guest policies, shared space usage, and maintenance responsibilities.

Managing the Property:

  • Regular Inspections: Conduct regular inspections to identify any damage or potential issues early on. Address concerns promptly and communicate effectively with tenants to prevent escalation.
  • Utilize Technology: Consider implementing smart home technology like digital locks, security cameras, and automated thermostats for improved monitoring and remote management of the property.
  • Maintain Open Communication: Establish clear communication channels with tenants and encourage them to voice concerns or issues promptly. Open communication fosters trust and helps prevent minor issues from snowballing into bigger problems.

Financial Considerations:

  • Set Competitive Rent: While higher occupancy offers the potential for increased income, consider offering slightly lower rent per person to attract responsible tenants and minimize vacancy periods.
  • Calculate Maintenance Costs: Factor in the increased likelihood of wear and tear and ensure you have sufficient reserves to cover potential maintenance and repair expenses.
  • Explore Legal Resources: Seek professional legal advice to ensure compliance with occupancy regulations and understand the potential legal ramifications of exceeding tenant limits or subletting practices.

By adopting these strategies, landlords can maximize the potential benefits of the eight-occupant policy while mitigating risks, ensuring a smooth and profitable renting experience for everyone involved. Remember, success lies in careful planning, proactive management, and building a positive relationship with your tenants.


The increase in occupancy limits for larger HDB flats is a complex and controversial policy with no easy answers. While it holds the potential to address housing needs and maximize available space, it also presents significant challenges for both landlords and tenants. Whether it becomes a success or a struggle depends on several factors, including clear regulations, open communication, and a willingness to adapt and compromise.

Ultimately, the eight-occupant experiment is a delicate balancing act. Can Singapore's iconic HDBs truly accommodate eight lives under one roof? Only time will tell. But by focusing on space optimization, clear communication, and a spirit of cooperation, perhaps this policy can offer a viable solution for some, while reminding us all of the importance of valuing our own personal space and respecting the diverse needs of our neighbors.

Note: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Landlords and Tenants should consult with professionals before making any decisions regarding renting of properties.