"I am a BLOGGER NOT an expert. This is a BLOG not a 'go-to' website for official information. I represent no one's view save my own. I have neither legal nor financial training, nor do I have anything to do with the real estate industry. My understanding of the Collective Sale Process is from a layman's position only. My calculations, computations and tables are homespun and may contain errors. Please note that nothing in this blog constitutes any legal or financial advice to anyone reading it. You should refer to your lawyer, CSC or financial adviser for expert advice before making any decision. This disclaimer is applicable to every post and comment on the blog. Read at your own risk."
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There is one thing worse than an Enbloc ----- and that is an Enbloc done badly. Since the majority have the necessary mandate to sell, then they owe it to all SPs to make a success of it. Minority SPs can only watch and wait, if they sell then lets pray it's at a price we can move on with, if they don't sell, then we are happy to stay for a few more years.

Min of Law in denial again

Rights of all owners adequately protected
Straits Times - 21 Aug 2009

REFER to last Saturday’s letters by Mr Dennis Butler (’En bloc sales: Adopt HK’s 50-year limit’) and Mr Augustine Cheah (’The difference’).

In 1999, the Land Titles (Strata) Act was amended to allow collective property sales by majority consent. One of the key considerations in this amendment was to facilitate urban renewal and avoid situations where a small minority of owners can hold up the sale of the development where the use of the land could be optimised.

We have taken steps under the Act to ensure the rights of all owners are adequately protected and provide recourse for those who feel aggrieved for any reason. For example, all collective sales applications have to be considered by the Strata Titles Board. Minority owners who object to the sale can raise their objections to the board, and the board is required to consider these objections before it decides on the outcome of the sales application.

In 2004 and 2007, we refined and updated the Act to provide more safeguards to owners in a collective sale process. For example, owners will have a mandatory five-day cooling-off period after signing a collective sales agreement to reconsider their consent.

Mr Butler has suggested that only developments that are more than 50 years old should be considered for collective sale redevelopment. It would be too rigid to set such an age limit. There could be other factors that warrant redevelopment like its state of disrepair. It is better to leave it to the owners in each development to determine the viability and timing of collective sales.

The current policy has resulted in a better use of our limited land
to create more quality housing units for Singaporeans.

For example, the 390-unit Goldenhill Park Condominium sits on the site formerly occupied by the 95-unit Goldenhill Condominium; and the 100-unit The Ansley used to be occupied by the 44-unit Mandalay Court. These former developments were less than 50 years old at the time of the collective sale and redevelopment – Goldenhill Condominium was 15 years old and Mandalay Court was 31 years old. Collective sales also offer a viable alternative for owners to seek new accommodation with new and better facilities.

We thank Mr Butler and Mr Cheah for their feedback. The Ministry of Law will continue to monitor the impact of collective sales rules, and would review the law as and when appropriate.

Chong Wan Yieng (Ms)Head (Corporate Communications) Ministry of Law
Why is it the Ministry of Law answering the Hong Kong 50 year en bloc topic raised by a reader and not the Ministry of National Development? Shouldn't their only concern be the crafting of the Statute and overseeing it's proper implementation in accordance to the wishes of Parliament? How come they are the mouthpiece for the MND?
We have taken steps under the Act to ensure the rights of all owners are adequately protected and provide recourse for those who feel aggrieved for any reason
Not really when the cost of such recourse can be so huge as to perhaps even bankrupt the minority owner. Those who appeal may be the 'architect of their own defeat' in the words of Justice Ang. 

The judge took pains to warn him that if he lost, he had to bear the legal costs; but if the majority lost, they could share these costs.The judge also explained that if he eventually ruled that there was no law to allow the en bloc sale, all the owners may be stuck with their properties. ‘Don’t be the architect of your own defeat,’ he said.

State of disrepair
In Singapore very strict rules govern the maintenance of buildings, so are people really living in dangerous old buildings that warrant demolition under LTSA? If they are, then the Commissioner is not doing his job. Under the Buildings Maintenance and Strata Management Act (BMSMA) part III:-
Commissioner may require building owner, etc., to carry out repairs, etc.
6. —(1) Where, in the opinion of the Commissioner —
(a) any building or any common property or limited common property (whether or not an exterior feature) has not been kept or maintained in a state of good and serviceable repair or in a proper and clean condition; or
(b) any exterior feature of a building has not been kept or maintained in such manner as to be securely fixed to the building and as will prevent any collapse of such exterior feature or its support,
With a heavy penalty for non-compliance
Unsafe exterior feature
9. —(1) Any person responsible for an exterior feature of a building who, without reasonable excuse, fails to keep or maintain the exterior feature in such manner as to be securely fixed to the building and as will prevent any collapse, partly or wholly, of such exterior feature or its support shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.
The excuse of an estate being 'old' is an overplayed card in the property agent/sale committee's hand. "Tampines Court is 23 years old, very old la, things are falling apart, must sell now or pay, pay, pay". What is the rest of Tampines New Town doing? Most of the buildings are of the same age as Tampines Court, is the HDB tearing them down because they are deemed too old and in disrepair? Indeed no, they are sprucing them up and adding lifts to every floor. Tampines town is a mature town - not old and decrepid.
To create more quality housing units for Singaporeans
The only true word in this statement is the word 'more'!

  1. The modern units are smaller and full of useless nooks and crannies; bay windows and planter boxes. The rooms are too small and eco-unfriendly with over-usage of windows replacing entire outer walls; a ridiculous architectural design for a tropical country. The finishing is poorer and leaks are common after year 3 or so.

  2. The density of these new estates is certainly not conducive to quality living: From 95 to 390 - that's a 410% increase. From 44 to 100 - that's a 227% increase. Older HDBs offer more privacy than some new private estates. One wonders when the balance will tip, when will people realise there is no value in these over-priced, over-crowded estates, the word private no longer holds any desirable quality, at least not one worth mortgaging your life away on.

  3. In reality, most Singaporean enblocers are unable to afford to return to their old area.
Collective sales also offer a viable alternative for owners to seek new accommodation with new and better facilities.
Really? Viable alternative? Is a 20 year old HDB a viable alternative to a private apartment? The Ministry of Law hasn't been keeping up to date on matters if it can make a foolish statement as this. NEW and BETTER! when in reality it is nearly always OLD and WORSE, or SMALLER or TWICE THE PRICE or in a FURTHER LOCATION or HDB.
The Ministry of Law continues not to listen to the ground, tweaking the rules in non-substantive ways and not addressing the more serious concerns - I put protecting minorities from losing their homes, their life savings including their CPF monies from the marauding majority top of the list. Their showing has been less than stellar on these matters. They continue to refuse to consider 'replacement cost' and instead look only to original buy price without factoring in inflation or interest paid.
The single shining judicial act coming from the legal wing was the Horizon Towers Appellate Court decision.
Straits Times - 25 Aug 2009

I REFER to last Friday’s letter by the Ministry of Law, ‘Rights of all owners adequately protected’.
I am particularly troubled by the statement: ‘We have taken steps under the Land Titles (Strata) Act to ensure the rights of all owners are adequately protected and provide recourse for those who feel aggrieved for any reason.’ For any reason? According to current laws, the Strata Titles Board will consider only financial objections. Non-financial objections are deemed irrelevant. So anyone objecting to a collective property sale for non-financial reasons has no legal recourse.
Also, an objector to a collective sale may be ordered by the Strata Titles Board to pay the legal costs of the majority consenting owners if his objection fails. For an individual, the prospect of having to pay legal costs is intimidating and makes any application to the Strata Titles Board to object to a sale a non-starter.
I also refer to the aim of land use optimisation, said to be the policy consideration behind the collective sale laws. What specifically is meant by ‘optimisation’ and how is it evaluated? Is it linked to national good, which is more heartfelt and intangible? Or is it to be measured in terms of economic or financial benefits only, and if so, whose?
Are collective sale laws retained because the benefits outweigh or justify the social costs and detrimental effects of the sales? These are – among others – destruction of social communities caused by pitting neighbour against neighbour, demolition of good buildings for commercial profit and emotional distress of losing one’s home.
Finally, I am curious why only strata title owners bear the burden of this presumably national-interest public policy. If land use optimisation is the aim, there should be a nationally applied policy by which no property owner (not even owners of good class bungalows) is exempt from having his property compulsorily acquired if he is not optimising the use of the land he owns.
Jeannette Chong Aruldoss (Ms)
Straits Times – 29 Aug 2009

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