Friday, August 21, 2009

Rights of all owners adequately protected

I 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.

Source, Straits Times 21 Aug 2009

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