Wednesday, May 6, 2009

URA acts against Grangeford 'dorms'

OUE and master tenant Ideal told to restore units to original condition

(SINGAPORE) Overseas Union Enterprise (OUE) and its master tenant at the Grangeford condo have been instructed to restore the apartments to their original condition. Ideal Accommodation, the master tenant, had subdivided apartments into smaller units resembling a dormitory layout.

'Urban Redevelopment Authority has investigated and taken enforcement action against the persons responsible for the unauthorised use of Grangeford Apartments.

'Enforcement notices have been served on the persons responsible to discontinue the unauthorised use and restore the apartment units to their approved condition,' a URA spokeswoman told BT.

OUE and Ideal could face penalties if they do not act within the time frame stipulated by URA.
BT understands the enforcement notice was served towards the end of last month.

The paper reported last month that a fully owned subsidiary of OUE had signed a two-year lease with effect from Jan 1, 2009 with Ideal for 170 apartments at the condo at Leonie Hill. Of these 170 apartments, Ideal split 140 apartments into a total of 600 units. Most had no access to rubbish chutes. Kitchen and living room areas were boarded up to create new units. Tenants of some units have to share toilets.

Ideal, set up by Chinese citizen Tang Yong, provides rental housing accommodation including student housing and serviced apartments.

Last month, URA had indicated that change of use of Grangeford's apartments from residential use to boarding house/dormitory use was not allowed.

OUE bought Grangeford through a $625 million collective sale struck during the market peak in 2007. With the property slump, OUE decided against redeveloping the project for the time being and opted to lease out the existing 193 apartments instead. It managed to rent out 22 apartments before it signed a master lease with Ideal for the 170 apartments.

BT noted in its reports last month that owners of apartments in other developments have also carried out similar subdivisions, though on a much smaller scale.

With the swine flu alert, the issue has become more critical as the overcrowding could pose a health hazard and contact-tracing could be difficult on account of transient tenants, as a letter writer living in People's Park Complex pointed out in The Straits Times Forum pages on Monday.

Source: Business Times, 6 May 2009

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