Saturday, July 31, 2010

Three more HUDC estates to be privatised

THREE HUDC estates comprising 797 flats in Hougang and Potong Pasir have been given the green light to privatise.

Two of the estates are in Hougang North - blocks 344 to 350 in Hougang Avenue 7 and blocks 713 to 720 in Hougang Avenue 2. The other covers blocks 110 to 112 in Potong Pasir Avenue 1.

The homes are all in opposition wards represented either by Hougang MP Low Thia Khiang of the Workers' Party or Potong Pasir MP Chiam See Tong of the Singapore People's Party.

Privatisation means HUDC residents become owners of their units as well as the common property, and so have better control over the running of their estate. They will also no longer be subject to HDB's housing policies such as having to seek approval to sublet their flats.

This is the seventh batch of HUDC estate privatisations and will allow home owners to enjoy price gains, experts say.

PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail said prices of homes in the HUDC estates might go up an estimated 20 per cent once the privatisation process is complete.

'Residents will have control of their estate and can improve facilities such as introducing a security system... There's also an enhanced lifestyle and image,' he said.

The Ministry of National Development (MND) said the estates were selected as residents had registered an interest in going private.

The privatisation costs that lessees might incur - there are legal and survey fees, for example - will be capped at $30,000 per flat for three years from Aug 2. The Government will absorb the difference if costs exceed the cap. But residents must acquire 75 per cent support for privatisation within this three-year period.

After that, privatisation costs will be adjusted to account for the prevailing redevelopment potential of the land.

The three estates can now form committees of resident representatives to garner support for the privatisation and liaise with involved parties such as the HDB.

Once the 75 per cent support is obtained, residents can lodge a Strata Titles Application with the Registry of Titles so they can get subsidiary strata certificates of title for their flats.

The process of legal transfer of title from HDB to the flat owners will take about 21/2 years, the MND said. Once the conversion to strata titles has been done, residents will have to form a management council to run and maintain the estate.

A Potong Pasir resident, who did not want to be named, said he was glad his estate was finally chosen for the conversion. 'I've been living here for about 25 years... We see others getting privatised and we ask ourselves when it'll be our turn. At last we've got that chance.'

HUDC flats were built in the 1970s and 1980s as an option for middle-income families, but were phased out in 1987 as demand declined. Privatisation began in 1995 in response to the rising aspirations of Singaporeans to own private housing.

All but the Braddell View HUDC estate have been privatised or identified for privatisation. The MND said as that estate was developed in two phases, the issue of lease harmonisation has to be resolved before the estate can be privatised.

Source: Straits Times, 31 Jul 2010

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