Published: 14 July 2015
Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs whether the Ministry will consider allowing HDB flat or private apartment owners to have the flexibility of not allowing their rental tenants to use their home address on their NRICs so as to minimise the possibility of harassment as a result of legal or illegal money lending activities.
Mr David Ong Kim Huat: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs (a) in the last three years, what is the number of cases of identity card holders who contravene the National Registration Act of not updating their residential addresses within 28 days; and (b) what can the Ministry do to increase enforcement, awareness and compliance to curb abuses
1. Madam Speaker, with your permission, I will address the two questions from Dr Intan and Mr Ong together.
2. The National Registration Act requires NRIC holders to report any change in their place of residence to the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) or Police within 28 days of the change. Any change will also be reflected on their NRICs. This applies to both property owners and rental tenants. Failure to do so is an offence and punishable by a fine or imprisonment, or both. Over the past three years, 61 persons were convicted for failure to report a change of their place of residence, an offence typically committed in furtherance of other criminal offences.
3. Updated address records are necessary for government agencies to get in touch with individuals for various purposes, including the registration of voters by the Elections Department, and contact tracing in a disease outbreak. This applies to owners as well as rental tenants.
4. Similarly, owners or rental tenants should use their current address for commercial transactions including obtaining a credit facility. A person who uses an outdated rental address when he is no longer staying at the location will not be traceable and will cause inconvenience to current residents of that address. If a tenant dishonestly uses an outdated address to secure a licensed loan, he is punishable under the Penal Code. Police will also act firmly against borrowers who obtain unlicensed loans with their outdated addresses. Under section 28C of the Moneylenders Act, such borrowers may face imprisonment for up to a year.
5. To ensure that the change of address facility is not abused including for criminal purposes, ICA requires the NRIC holder to show documentary proof that he is residing in the property before effecting the change.
6. ICA works with HDB to inform property owners during property sale transactions of the need for timely update of their address. This legal requirement is also made known on ICA's and HDB's web sites and disseminated through ICA's numerous outreach exhibitions.
7. Individuals who believe that their address has been wrongfully used should lodge a report with ICA or the Police so that the authorities can investigate into the matter.