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Old 21-11-2003, 08:56 PM   #91
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Fm TODAY, 17 Nov 2003

Ethnic integration rule hits some HDB sellers

Under the Ethnic Integration Policy of the Housing Development Board (HDB), an individual can buy an HDB resale flat in any new estate as long as the approved proportion of his ethnic group has not been exceeded.

As a result of this policy, some flat sellers belonging to the minority ethnic groups may experience difficulty selling their flats if the majority ethnic group's quota has been reached. They may find it takes longer to find a buyer and that the property fetches a lower price.

I would like to suggest that this policy be reviewed. Perhaps racial integration is best achieved when it is driven by market forces rather than by policies that may limit the minority's freedom of choice and access to the market.

Leong Sze Hian
Fm TODAY, 20 Nov 2003[/i]

Integration policy is just one factor affecting flat saleability

WE REFER to the letter, "Ethnic integration rule hits some HDB sellers" by Mr Leong Sze Hian (Today, Nov 17).

Singapore is a multi-racial society. Racial integration and harmony are crucial for our social cohesion. The Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) was implemented in 1989 to ensure a balanced ethnic mix in our public housing estates and prevent the formation of ethnic enclaves.

The EIP maintains the ethnic proportions at the neighbourhood and block levels within certain limits. These ethnic limits are set higher than the national population proportions to provide for some flexibility. Where the neighbourhood or block limit for an ethnic group is reached, HDB will disallow the resale of a flat if by doing so, the proportion of that ethnic group will be increased beyond the limit. There is no restriction on the sale if the buyer and seller are from the same ethnic group.

The EIP has met its objective in achieving a more balanced ethnic mix in public housing estates. When the policy was implemented in 1989, 28 per cent of the 125 neighbourhoods had at least one ethnic group which reached or exceeded the neighbourhood limit. Now, there are 24 per cent of such neighbourhoods, although the total number of neighbourhoods has grown from 125 to 165.

Generally, with the large number of HDB flats available across Singapore and an active resale market, there should not be great difficulty for the different ethnic groups to sell and buy HDB flats.

Moreover, the EIP is not the only factor that affects the saleability of a flat and its selling price. Factors such as the prevailing market conditions, the attributes of the flat and the preferences of buyers will also influence resale prices.

The EIP is an important policy in maintaining a balanced ethnic mix in Singapore. We need to apply it consistently to all ethnic groups for it to achieve its objective.

Leong Chok Keh

Deputy Director (Policy and Property),
for Director (Estate Administration and Property), Housing and Development Board
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Old 21-11-2003, 09:07 PM   #92
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The location are:

Kallang/Whampoa N5 R20A
Blk 108B McNair Road #02-204 (4-Rm) & #02-202 (5-Rm)

Bukit Merah N5 R37A
Blk 8A Boon Tiong Road #02-81 (4-Rm) & #02-83 (5-Rm)

Jurong East N4 C14 & 15
Blk 60 Teban Garden Road #04-452 (5-Rm)
Blk 65 Teban Garden Road #03-617 (4-Rm) & #03-619 (5-Rm)

Bukit Batok N3 C10
Blk 395 Bukit Batok West Ave 5 #02-436 (4-Rm)


Fm TODAY, 20 Nov 2003

800 new HDB flats

THE HDB will release about 800 four and five-room flats located in areas such as Kallang, Bukit Merah and Jurong East under its latest balloting exercise.

The units were built to re-house families under the selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme and the HDB is offering the surplus flats to the public.

Application forms for the balloting exercise can be found at the HDB's website www.hdb.gov.sg or at the HDB sales office.
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Old 25-11-2003, 10:15 AM   #93
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it's hard to please everyone...

Fm ST, 23 Nov 2003

The thrill is gone

While playgrounds are being made safer, some caution against taking things too far

By Irena Josoeb

Hardly any swings left

Monkey bars may disappear

Bouncy flooring instead of sand pits


YOU hardly find swings in playgrounds here, monkey bars might soon disappear and those sand pits are being replaced by bouncy flooring. As one mother puts it: 'There is no more thrill.'

Like many parents, Madam L.J. Yip, a 45-year-old engineer who has two daughters aged nine and 11, thinks playgrounds in Singapore have become too boring and unadventurous for kids. Her beef is that the slides are now too low.

These play areas made the news last week when The Straits Times reported that as many as 40 playgrounds out of about 1,500 here are to be replaced as they do not meet safety standards. Rubber-based flooring will replace the old sandpits, and gaps between ladder rungs will be reduced, all to make it safer for kids.

The Housing Board (HDB) is also looking at whether monkey bars should be standard equipment in future playgrounds. That's because more than 400 children fell from them in the 12 months ending in January this year and had to be taken to hospital.

Already, swings are disappearing. In a Sunday Times check of 14 playgrounds in HDB estates, only three, in Hougang, Clementi and Bishan, had swings.

An HDB spokesman said these are not installed in precinct playgrounds because there is less room to allow them to function safely.

He added: 'There are also safety considerations...For example, the swing chair can hit others using the playground or careless users might fall off the swings and injure themselves.'

But others cautioned against taking things too far.

Mr Sylvester Goh, 42, an event coordinator who also organises children's acrobatic classes, said: 'Why do we want to overreact? If a kid falls and parents start to say he cannot do this and do that, in time to come, kids will grow up without having any adventurous experiences.

'And these are the ones who are going to shape the future of the country!'

Housewife Giauw Kip Lee, in her 40s, thinks children today are overprotected. She encourages her daughter, 10, to have fun in their playground.

She said: 'Many children are now couch potatoes, and they are not able to explore on their own or have initiative. What will become of them? They will be a generation of softies.'

Even child experts think there can be room for thrills on playgrounds.

Dr Brian Yeo, a consultant child psychiatrist at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, said: 'Take away the monkey bars and the big slides, and what is left is a rubber-padded place with rocking toys - a toddler playground in open air.

'Even a Primary 3 kid would be embarrassed to go there when he sees that there are only pre-schoolers there.'

But what do the children think?

Asked what he would do if the monkey bars were removed, Billy Tan, 11, who was seen swinging and climbing boisterously from a set of bars at a playground in Toa Payoh Lorong 1, shrugged and said: 'I'll just climb something else.'

And being hurt is nothing to be afraid of, said 10-year-old Phyllis Quan, from Paya Lebar Methodist Girls' Primary School. 'If I did, I'll take it as an experience and be careful the next time.'
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Old 25-11-2003, 10:24 AM   #94
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Post new 2% cash down payment ruling for bank loan

resale flat buyer, take note.

Fm ST, 24 Nov 2003

[b]HDB flat buyers race to beat 2% cash-down rule[/i]

New rule, effective Jan 1, applies to those taking bank loans; sellers are worried demand would be affected

By Leong Pik Yin

SOME would-be buyers of Housing Board flats are racing to conclude deals before Jan 1, when a new rule will require that they put down 2 per cent in cash if they take a bank loan to buy a flat.

That Jan 1 deadline has pushed Mr Collin Tham, 36, to advance his plans to sell his five-room HDB flat in Tampines and buy a slightly smaller five-room flat in Serangoon North. He had meant to do it next year.

'I felt this new rule could dampen the market further so I just decided to sell. I've also bought another one to avoid paying cash next year. The money can be put to better use, like renovation,' said the trading representative.

And sales have gone up in the past month, property agents say.

C&H Realty said phone enquiries had gone up some 40 per cent over the previous month and it had closed 20 per cent more deals.

Dennis Wee Properties said sales had risen 15 per cent in the past month over the previous month for five-room and executive flats. Director Chris Koh said he was 'optimistic that the increase will continue'.

PropNex group director Eric Cheng said he had sold three units in the first week of this month. He usually sells one or two executive flats a month.

'Many people are not aware of this new rule. When they learn about it, they try to act faster. Buyers do it to save cash and sellers do it because they're worried it may affect demand,' he said.

Deals involving bigger flats are most affected as they cost more and the 2 per cent cash down-payment is larger.

The down-payment requirement is being phased in, in steps of two percentage points, starting next year. By January 2008, those who take bank loans to buy flats will have to put down 10 per cent in cash.

HDB records show resale applications rising only slightly for the five-room or bigger flats that agencies say are moving faster. Last month, 499 five-room and 140 executive flats were sold, slightly more than the 483 five-room and 133 executive units sold in September.

But HDB says many transactions are not registered with the board until a month or so later.

ERA president Jack Chua said the pressure to close a deal before Jan 1 affected only buyers taking bank loans and that the cash down-payment required for larger units would average just under $8,000.

OCBC is one bank offering a 'cashback' scheme to help clients. In September, it began offering a 2 per cent disbursement of the loan amount to HDB home loan borrowers.

'Cashback enables customers to enjoy added cash liquidity,' said Mr Gregory Chan, head of secured lending.

This amount is factored into the loan's first year interest rate. Homebuyers who need to pay that 2 per cent down-payment in cash may find this feature useful.

Still, some homeowners are worried.

Flight attendant Lena Tang, 29, who bought an executive flat in Tampines for $450,000 five years ago and put it on the market a few months ago for about $410,000, said she wants to sell it because she's close to exhausting her Central Provident Fund savings.

'It's been quite tough. I'll make a loss selling it, but I'm afraid the 2 per cent rule will affect demand even more. I hope I can cut my losses and dispose of the flat before the year's end.'
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Old 25-11-2003, 10:41 AM   #95
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demand for new flats have drop.

Fm ST, 25 Nov 2003

15,000: That's how many flats HDB expects to sell this year

By Vladimir Guevarra
PROPERTY REPORTER

THE Housing Board's half-year financial results have left some observers questioning the number of flats it hopes to sell for the year.

In its results released yesterday, the HDB said it expected to sell about 15,000 flats this year. But just last month, it was estimating sales of around 18,200 new homes. This was about the same number it managed in the last financial year, which ended in March.

Whether the latest figure referred to new and resale flats was unclear, but observers took it that the board was referring to only new ones.

Chesterton International associate director Nicholas Mak said a drop of as many as 3,000 new flats would not be surprising. Buyers may have been putting off purchasing a home till the fragile economy recovered and some newly-weds may have opted to stay with their parents in the meantime.

Also puzzling to observers was the fact that the half-year results were on the websites of the Singapore Exchange (SGX) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Some observers said it seemed unusual because the board was not a listed company.

Last night, The Straits Times was unable to find the financial results on the HDB's own website. Meanwhile, the results showed that for the half-year ended September, the HDB ran up a bigger net deficit than during the same period last year.

Its deficit increased 63 per cent to $322.2 million. Nevertheless, it managed a small surplus of $62,000 because of a government grant.
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Old 27-11-2003, 10:33 AM   #96
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Headline news on TNP.

Fm The New Paper, 27 Nov 2003

TELOK BLANGAH CRESCENT FLATS
Almost new. Sea/city view. Near market. Quiet. Er... too quiet


By Desmond Ng



THE view from their window stretches far out to the sea. But in the corridor outside, they are only likely to catch their own shadows.

It's peaceful. So peaceful, it's almost eerie.

You'd think a place so peaceful would be welcome.

But the residents are most reluctant to answer their doorbell even during the day.

And they keep their front gates firmly locked too.

Who can blame them?

You, too, would be cautious if you and your family were just one of six households living in a 30-storey HDB block.

Yes, that's how lonely and empty it is.

And it's not much better in the neighbouring block. Curiously, at Telok Blangah Crescent, two relatively new HDB blocks of flats have stood almost empty for more than three years.

We are not talking about dilapidated flats in a faraway corner of Singapore.

These flats are on average less than four years old, centrally-located (10 minutes' drive to Shenton Way) and offer fabulous views of Sentosa, Mount Faber and Shenton Way.

They are just a 10-minute walk from the market. So why are blocks 17 and 17A so empty?

That's what baffles other local residents, though we found an answer from the HDB. (See report below.)

In contrast, neighbouring blocks 14 and 14A are about 80 per cent occupied.

At Block 17, fewer than 30 of the 145 units have been occupied.

But in Block 17A, only six of the 174 units are occupied - that's less than 5 per cent.

The silence is unsettling, and your footsteps echo when you walk through the corridors of these vacant four- and five-room units.

There are no laughing children playing in the corridors, no hustle and bustle of families going about their daily chores or any sound from TV sets.

DARK, QUIET UNITS

The emptiness is most acutely felt at night when you see only a few lighted households among a mass of dark, quiet units.




At Block 17A, one cautious resident, retiree Madam C R Ang, 73, was startled when she saw this reporter in the corridor. She hurriedly closed her front gate.

When interviewed later, she said she and her son have been living there for four years. They were relocated there from their rented one-room HDB flat at New Bridge Road in 2000.

She added their new five-room flat (about 1,200 sq ft) was bought from HDB for about $450,000.

But only after moving in did they realise they had so few neighbours.

'Of course I was scared when I first moved in. It's quiet at night and during the day too.

'There is hardly anyone walking around. That's why I was so wary of you,' she said in Hokkien.

She usually keeps her door closed and would only come out to water her plants.

Said Madam Ang: 'Of course, I'd prefer to have neighbours to talk to. It can get quiet in the day when my son is not around. That's why I keep the TV on.'

Her closest neighbour, senior technician Han Ban Juan, 48, lives a floor above her with his mother.

Like Madam Ang, they were also relocated from New Bridge Road.

He said he paid $452,000 for the five-room flat in 2000.

While he likes the area, he laments that he has no neighbours on his floor.

Said Mr Han in Mandarin: 'The view here is great. But it can get scary at night because it's so quiet and you don't have any neighbours.'

Another resident, who declined to be named, said she has met her neighbours at the lift landing less than 10 times though she has been living there for more than three years.

Over at Block 17, there are more residents, although it still looks deserted with about 20 per cent occupancy.

Residents there said they were unsettled by the empty units initially, but some have gotten used to the silence.

Housewife Madam Chua Kim Suan, 53, said in Mandarin: 'When I first moved in here, I was very unsettled by the silence. It was as if the whole place was deserted. But I've gotten more used to it.

'Still, I'd prefer some neighbours to liven up the place.'

LaSalle student Jason Chong, 19, who has been living there in a four-room flat with his parents and sister, agreed.

He said: 'I've lived here for over three years and I think there's definitely fewer than 30 families in this block, which is very strange. I think we've gotten used to it.

'But it'll be good if there are neighbours. It'll bring some life to this area. After all, it's been deserted long enough.'

--------------------------------------------------------

HDB: WAITING FOR RELOCATION HOUSEHOLDS

THE Housing Board said that blocks 14, 14A, 17 and 17A were built primarily for re-housing HDB rental-flat tenants affected by the relocation programme.

The surplus flats, which are no longer needed to re-house households, were released for sale to the public under the Balloting Exercise (BE).

So why are the flats still empty?

HDB explained that they had to wait for relocation households from other sites to complete their selection process before offering the place to the public.

Blocks 14 and 14A were offered for sale to the public in the January 2002 BE while blocks 17 and 17A were offered under the BE in June 2003.

Said an HDB spokesman: 'Currently, about 83 per cent of the flats at blocks 14 and 14A have already been sold. As for blocks 17 and 17A, inclusive of units booked during the June 2003 BE, about 80 per cent have already been sold.

'The keys for the units that were booked will be issued to the buyers from next month onwards.'

HDB said the remaining flats in these four blocks will be offered for sale at a later date and details will be announced when they are finalised.



--------------------------------------------

PROPERTY AGENT: NOT GOOD IDEA TO SELL NOW

ERA Realty's assistant vice-president Eugene Lim noted it might not be profitable for the current home-owners to sell their place now, because prices have dropped since then.

Past transactions in that area for the last three months pegged the five-room units there at a price range from $360,000 to $420,000, he said.

'With renovation costs factored in, I would expect their break-even price to be around $500,000. It'll be hard to command a high premium price in today's market,' he added.

He said prices there will probably be affected because people seldom like to live in empty blocks.
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Old 05-12-2003, 09:07 AM   #97
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another news from TNP. all the financial assistance scheme don't really help, it only help you temporary, once the FAS is expired, you have to pay more with interest! see previous thread on FAS.

Fm The New Paper, 04 Dec 2003

HDB MORTGAGE SCHEME

24,600 can't meet payments

THEY have not met their monthly Housing Board (HDB) mortgage repayments for at least three months.

But they have not been evicted from their homes.

About 24,600 flat owners have failed to meet the repayments for three months or more as at end September, reported Berita Harian.

At the end of last year, the figure was 21,800.

In a written reply to queries from the Malay language newspaper, an HDB spokesman said that the 24,600 is 4.7 per cent of the 525,000 flat owners with HDB mortgages.

From 1999 until the second quarter of this year, the HDB has not evicted anyone who has been in arrears.


But why are so many households in such a situation?

The economic slowdown, retrenchments and problems finding jobs are believed to be the main reasons.

The HDB spokesman said that owners are given opportunities and time to clear their debts.

The HDB statement said that the board would exercise its right to repossess the flat only as a last resort.

It would do this only after the owner had failed to respond to reminders and visits.

And if the HDB seizes the flat, compensation will be paid based on the flat's market value.

HELP SCHEMES

The affected owner can then seek HDB help to find alternative living quarters.

The Government has a range of schemes to help flat owners meet their repayments.

Among the help available:
  • Payment of arrears by instalments
  • Rescheduling of housing loan
  • A reduced repayment schedule
  • Deferment of housing payments
  • The inclusion of working family members as joint owners.

These schemes were introduced to help HDB flat owners after the Central Provident Fund contribution rate was cut in 1999.

Those who face problems meeting their loan repayments can visit the HDB area office or call 1800-866-3030 to get more information on the schemes.

The information is also available on the HDB website at www.hdb.gov.sg under the section Financial Assistance Measures.

Last edited by sunsetbay; 05-12-2003 at 09:09 AM..
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Old 06-12-2003, 11:02 AM   #98
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interesting figure to take note, $321 million for the project. let's see what's the selling price for the unit when it's up.


Fm ST, 06 Dec 2003

Building delay for 50-storey HDB blocks
By Leong Pik Yin

THE building of Singapore's tallest Housing Board blocks, in Duxton Plain in Tanjong Pagar, is likely to be delayed.

The flats are now expected to be ready 'sometime after 2007', instead of by 2007, said the HDB yesterday in a press statement.

New tenders will also be called 'at an appropriate time' for contractors to build the 50-storey blocks, it added.

The changes are because the board has decided to adopt another method of selling the flats.

Some contractors believe the decision to adopt the Build-to-Order (BTO), rather than ballot, system is because the HDB had underestimated the building costs.

An HDB spokesman earlier explained that the change was prompted by 'market situation'.

'It would be appropriate to sell the flats under BTO in view of the scale of the project and to ensure they are taken up when built.'

Previously, it had always sold new flats in mature estates by ballot. With BTO, the board will build the flats only when at least 70 per cent of the flats are booked.

The spokesman noted that BTO had proven successful in ensuring 'the supply of flats matches the demand'.

The flats in the seven blocks are to be sold under the BTO system in phases, with the first group scheduled for the second quarter of next year.

Contractors interviewed last night were not surprised by the HDB's move.

An HDB contractor, who declined to be named, said market talk is that the HDB's allocated budget was too low.

He said: 'The problem is that this is a new project. No one has built 50-storey HDB blocks with fancy link bridges. No one knows the right price because there's no basis for comparison.'

Six contractors had tendered for the job, with $321 million being the lowest bid. The contractors who submitted the two lowest bids could not be reached for comment.
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Old 07-12-2003, 11:33 AM   #99
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Thumbs down TANJONG PAGAR SKYSCRAPERS

call-off!?

Fm ST, 07 Dec 2003

'If demand is bad, HDB won't build'
Plan for 50-storey blocks may be scrapped to avoid having glut of unsold units, says minister


By Tracy Quek

AFTER an international competition to find the best design, and after the existing residents were relocated, those 50-storey Housing Board blocks in Tanjong Pagar might not materialise.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said the HDB should not embark on the massive project to build Singapore's tallest HDB flats, only to have empty, unsold units after they are completed.

At a community event yesterday, he said: 'If, for some reason, demand is poor, we will not proceed. That will help us avoid some of the problems we used to have when demand fell sharply and we ended up with a lot of unsold flats.'

He was responding to reporters' questions about a statement HDB issued on Friday, which said the flats would be ready 'some time after 2007', instead of the original 2007 completion date.

The high-profile project made the headlines in May last year, when boutique architecture firm ARC Studio Architecture and Urbanism beat about 200 local and foreign entries to produce the winning design for the project.

Seven 50-storey blocks are planned, taking the place of two rental blocks that were vacated after residents were relocated.

Now, HDB will only build the flats if 70 per cent of the 1,800 units have been pre-booked. This Build-to-Order system is usually used to sell flats in new estates.

It is being used for the first time to sell HDB flats in a developed estate. Usually, such flats are sold by ballot, and are very popular because buyers place a premium on the amenities available in developed estates.

But HDB is taking no chances with this project. Said Mr Mah: 'The situation has changed. We're in a different situation and we can't operate policies on auto-pilot; we have to adapt.'

He added that demand for housing has slowed down in recent years, mainly due to the weak economy. In 2001, HDB found itself with about 17,000 unsold flats, some of which it is still trying to sell.

Despite the cautious approach, he said the flats might be popular with young Singaporean families.

'It's a unique project, in a good location. It's also good value for money as all HDB flats are, because they're subsidised by the Government.'

Soon-to-be-wed accountant, Mr Jeremy Lee, 29, said he would be first in line for the flats: 'City living at HDB prices, why not?'

But he and other buyers might baulk at the price.

Knight Frank property analyst Tay Kah Poh estimated the flats would cost between $350 and $400 per sq ft, 30 to 40 per cent higher than new flats in new outlying housing estates. Based on his estimate, a five-room flat could go for almost $500,000.

Home buyers will also have to pay more for maintenance, said Mr Mah, given that the project will cost more to build.

'Building to that height will cost more but we're seeing how we can keep it down. We're taking a second look at some design features from the original plan. Some may not be practical for this particular HDB project.'

The original plan calls for the seven blocks to be linked at their 26th storeys and at roof level by sky gardens that also have jogging tracks and other sports and recreational facilities.

Mr Khoo Peng Beng, 35, who owns ARC Studio with his wife Belinda Huang, 36, confirmed that the HDB was looking closely at each individual feature to see if it was suitable in the long run.

'While we're aware of the need to contain costs since this is a public housing project, it will be a shame if all the special features were thrown out. After all, they... make the project unique,' he said.
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Old 08-12-2003, 12:10 PM   #100
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Fm ST, 08 Dec 2003

Window pain

Less than 5 years since upgrading - but residents told to pay for repairs to prevent windows falling off


By Vivi Zainol

SOME Housing Board flat owners, whose buildings were upgraded less than five years ago, are in a fix.

Their windows are in danger of falling off and they may have to spend several hundred dollars to repair them because HDB rules state that flat owners are responsible for ensuring their windows are in good condition.



Repairs will cost Madam Yong more than $300, HDB says the rivets 'met the prevailing industry standard at that time' and flat owners are 'encouraged' to change them if they are in bad condition. -- LEONARD GOH


Housewife Yong Ah Lan, 70, who lives alone on the ninth floor of Block 62 in Circuit Road, went to the HDB Geylang Branch office last month to report that she could not close or open some of her casement windows because the rivets on them had corroded and had come loose. A few days later, on Nov 26, an HDB officer went to inspect her flat.

On Nov 28, she received a letter saying that a 'dislodged window' was in danger of falling off. She was asked to bear the costs of getting her windows inspected, replaced or repaired. She was to get a trained window contractor to submit a report to the HDB by Dec 5.

Her son, Mr Lam Wooi Chin, 46, self-employed, said: 'My mother has been living here since the 1960s. There were no problems with the windows until after they were replaced in the upgrading exercise.



Small aluminium rivets, used during upgrading, are the problem in affected MacPherson blocks. -- LEONARD GOH


'It's been less than five years since the upgrading. I don't think owners should be made to pay the full repair costs.'

Another unhappy resident is Mr Chen Kui Yong, 83, a retired tailor who lives on the 10th floor. He has resorted to tying strings around his bedposts to secure his master bedroom windows.

'I first noticed it two months ago. They asked us to pay so much for the upgrading. Now, they are asking us to pay more for the windows they replaced,' he said.

Block 62, Circuit Road, is part of the MacPherson precinct and upgrading on Blocks 38 to 40 and Blocks 61 to 67 started in May 1996 and was completed in November 1998.

A random check in Block 62 turned up two more residents with the same problem.

Both chose to replace two loose or damaged rivets themselves. But according to the HDB's new ruling, which took effect this month, only HDB-trained contractors can be hired to install or replace windows in housing estates.

A licensed and trained window contractor, who did not want to named, inspected Madam Yong's flat and said more than 100 rivets used on the kitchen and bedroom windows would have to be replaced as they did not meet the HDB's new standards.

According to him, the rivets used during the upgrading exercise were made of aluminium and are smaller than what the present standards require. The new HDB standards require them to be made of stainless steel and measure at least 4.8mm in diameter. The replacements will cost Madam Yong more than $300.

But there are wider implications. The windows in all the 10 blocks in the MacPherson precinct which were upgraded do not meet the new safety standards set by the HDB.

According to the HDB's reply to a query last week, another batch of blocks in the MacPherson precinct also had aluminium rivets fitted in their upgraded kitchen and bedroom windows.

It is not known if the same rivets were used in other upgraded precincts.

But the HDB said that the aluminium rivets 'met the prevailing industry standard at that time' and flat owners with windows that have aluminium rivets are 'encouraged' to change them 'if they are in bad condition'.

It also said that under the lease agreement, there is a one-year defects liability period and this 'includes flats which have been upgraded and installed with new windows under the main upgrading programme scheme'.

This means that a year after installation, owners are responsible for maintaining their windows.

The HDB said there have been 164 cases of falling windows in the last six years. Almost 80 per cent of the cases involved windows installed by flat owners.

Three cases of falling windows were in the MacPherson precinct - one at Block 63 and two at Block 39, Circuit Road.

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Old 10-12-2003, 12:41 PM   #101
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Fm ST, 10 Dec 2003

Danger Of Falling HDB Windows

Act now, before lives are lost


I REFER to the report, 'Window Pain' (ST, Dec 8), on windows falling from Housing Board flats.

Through no fault of theirs, residents of the upgraded flats in Circuit Road, having lived with problem-free windows for over 30 years since the 1960s until they were replaced with new ones by the HDB during the 1996-1998 upgrading, now face the prospect of having to replace them.

When they paid for the upgrading programme, their expectation would have been that the new HDB-installed windows would last as long as the original windows, if not longer. It does seem unreasonable they are now being told to replace those 'upgraded' windows at their own expense, a mere five years after the upgrading project was completed. Can this be considered 'upgrading' when such windows are now declared by the HDB - which installed them - to be unsafe?

The HDB said that 80 per cent of the falling-window cases over the past six years involved windows installed by flat owners. However, what about those unsafe HDB-installed windows which have not yet fallen and are not part of the statistics?

The real concern lies not in statistics on already-fallen windows, but in the total number of unsafe windows that are hanging precariously.

Besides that in Circuit Road, are there other upgrading projects with the same problem?

Legally, the HDB is correct to say that after the one-year defects liability period, residents are responsible for maintaining the windows. However, the residents would surely not buy the HDB's explanation that the windows' 'aluminium rivets met the industry standard at that time', but not anymore, and that residents are now 'encouraged' to change them if they are in bad condition.

Such an explanation is unacceptable, considering that the residents would have been better off retaining their windows from the 1960s.

If the HDB is unwilling to pay the full cost, then there could be a co-payment scheme. There is a precedent: Under the Spalling Concrete Repairs Assistance Scheme implemented in the late 1990s on a goodwill basis by the HDB, residents paid 60 to 70 per cent of the repair bill, subject to a cap of $300, with the rest borne by the HDB.

Compared to spalling concrete which is confined largely to a flat's interior, falling windows are a more pressing concern, given the risk to life and limb from falling glass and metal.

From 1994-2000, there were 10 cases of falling air-conditioners, prompting an amendment to the Building Control Act in 2000 to provide for criminal penalties for failure to change timber brackets to stainless-steel ones. Given that there have been 164 cases of falling windows in the last six years, surely, there must be a greater impetus for the HDB to act.

TOH SHIN HAO
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Old 14-12-2003, 02:21 PM   #102
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Fm The New Paper, 13 Dec 2003

Floored!

Living room tiles pop up 2 days before wedding


By Dawn Chia

TODAY was supposed to be a perfect day for the bride.

Her home had been spruced up, the furniture polished, and the windows cleaned.

But two days before her big day, something unexpected happened.

Floor tiles in Miss Gammar Omar's living room, where a part of her wedding ceremony will be held, popped up on Thursday.

Said the 25-year-old teacher: 'I was pulling the sofa out to clean the floor when I heard a krrr...aaak sound.

'It was very loud and scary.



'My mother, who was in the bedroom, thought that I had fallen, and came running.'

Miss Gammar and her mother, who have been living in their Pasir Ris four-room flat for about eight years, were stunned by the sight.

Several tiles, which had looked polished and smooth, now had long, multiple cracks running through them.

Madam Khatijah Awad, Miss Gammar's mother, recalled with a shudder: 'It was like a mini earthquake.

'After it happened, I was worried, and couldn't sleep the whole night.'

UPGRADING CAUSE?

The women felt the tiles could have got loose during lift upgrading work at the block.

There was constant drilling and hammering from early this year, they said.

But HDB said the work couldn't have anything to do with what happened, as it was completed well before the tiles popped up. (See next report.)

A crack has also formed along the skirting of the wall adjacent to the uprooted tiles.

Said Miss Gammar: 'Before the upgrading work started, there were no cracks.

'We noticed the crack in the wall a few weeks ago.'

She had planned to hold her solemnisation ceremony in the area where the tiles have come off.

The rest of the wedding is to be held tomorrow at a nearby community centre, as the void deck is still messy after the upgrading.

After the tiles came off, Miss Gammar had to do some emergency repairs.

She got some friends to help her clear the tiles which had been been dislodged.

This left an unsightly, shallow hollow in the middle of the living room.

Miss Gammar, who is expecting about 100 guests for the ceremony, remains unfazed.

CARPET COVER

She said, gesturing with her henna-painted hands: 'We'll try to get some cardboard to cover the hole.

'We've also managed to borrow a large carpet from my uncle to put on top of that.

'It won't be perfect, but it'll have to do.'

Miss Gammar said that although she did not plan to look for a new flat immediately after the wedding, this unfortunate incident might just 'speed things up a little'.

Said the cheerful bride: 'It's very upsetting to have this happen, but I'm trying to stay composed.

'To keep myself sane, I'm thinking of our week-long honeymoon in Koh Samui!'

-------------------------------------

HDB: It's not because of upgrading

NO work has been carried out at Miss Gammar's block since mid-November, says HDB.

According to an HDB spokesman, piling for lift upgrading at the block was completed in October.

Said the spokesman: 'The flat owner mentioned that the tiles in her flat were dislodged on Dec 11.

'Hence, it is clear that the two matters are unrelated.'

The spokesman added that under the lease, flat owners are responsible for maintaining the inside of their flats in good condition, and this includes repairs needed for dislodged tiles.

However, HDB will, on a goodwill basis, assist Miss Gammar to investigate the cause of the dislodged tiles and suggest appropriate remedial action.
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Old 15-12-2003, 02:50 PM   #103
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Fm ST, 14 Dec 2003

Singles, be careful who you buy a home with

They should take steps to protect themselves in case the relationship sours, warn lawyers

By Tan Hui Yee

ONE was a widow in her 50s, the other a single woman in her 70s.

They were introduced by people from their church and wanted to live on their own instead of in a home for the aged.

So they pooled their money and bought a four-room Housing Board (HDB) flat in Tampines.

But they couldn't get along.

One day, the widow came home to find the lock on the door of their flat changed.

Worse was to come. Her flatmate, who was supposed to either sell the flat or buy the widow's share, became uncontactable. The widow was stuck with a flat she could not live in or sell.

This case, cited by a lawyer, highlights one of the pitfalls of singles buying homes together.

The singles housing market has grown since the Government relaxed the rules in 2001, allowing those 35 years or older to buy three-room or smaller HDB resale flats in all areas of Singapore.

Before that, they could only buy flats in the suburbs.

Those who have not enjoyed housing subsidies previously are also entitled to housing grants of $11,000 each.

As a result of the changes, the singles HDB housing market has grown by 20 per cent since 2001, estimated the chief executive of property agency Propnex, Mr Mohamed Ismail.

Singles, who made up close to one-third (30.9 per cent) of the Singapore resident population aged 15 years and over last year, spend about $450 million a year on three-room flats, he said.

Those who want to live in bigger flats can buy one under the HDB's Joint Singles Scheme, which lets up to four unrelated singles buy a flat of any size together.

From January to last month, 321 groups, mostly pairs, applied to buy resale flats under this scheme.

They form the minority, since another 4,517 singles applied to buy HDB flats alone.

Property agents say singles team up to buy flats because they cannot afford a three-room flat on their own or they want a bigger flat which can also be a home office.

Then there are very good friends, elderly folk and people who don't want to live on their own.

However, lawyers interviewed said singles who opt for such a living arrangement should take steps to protect themselves, in case things turn sour.

Lawyer Yap Kok Kiong recommended that singles buying flats together draw up an agreement that specifies things like who pays maintenance charges, who is allowed to use the flat, and in what circumstances the flat should be sold.

Putting such things down in black and white minimises the chances of disputes arising later.

Singles also have to think carefully about how they want the title deed to be drawn up.

Co-owners of a flat can be listed on the title deed either as joint tenants or tenants in common.

Tenants in common have to specify in the title deed their share in the flat. This makes it easier to divide the proceeds when the flat is sold.

Also, when one co-owner dies, his relatives get his share of the flat, not the other co-owners. In the case of joint tenancy, the surviving co-owners inherit the whole property.

Co-owners of an HDB flat can use their Central Provident Fund (CPF) money to pay for the flat. However, if singles want to buy private property, only one co-owner can use his CPF money. The others will not be listed on the title deed.

Some singles try to work out legal agreements, like a trust, so both parties get an equal share of the property even though only one used his CPF money to pay for the flat.

But lawyers warn that the arrangement is risky. Since only one name is listed on the title deed of the property, the other party's claim to it is not protected.

Mr Aaron Chan, director of Advent Law Corp, said: 'If your name is not on the title deed, you can sue the other party to get back the money you put into the flat, but you can't stake your claim on the flat. I wouldn't recommend it.'

Ultimately, the uncertainty that comes with buying a home with an unrelated person keeps the lid on the number of such arrangements.
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Old 17-12-2003, 08:40 PM   #104
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s'pore ok?!

zzZZ....

1,149 HDB blocks 'sparkle'

They win award for cleanliness after their public areas pass test

By Chang Ai-Lien
SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT

MORE than one in 10 Housing Board blocks has the 'sparkle' sticker of approval stuck proudly at its lift lobby, showing that it has passed the cleanliness test for public areas commonly plagued by litter.

Six months after the launch of a campaign to encourage heart- landers to have a sense of pride in their living environment and to play a role in keeping it clean, 1,149 blocks have received the award, out of the more than 1,500 nominated.

Under the scheme, residents can nominate their block for the award if they think it is clean and tidy.

Only those blocks that receive more than five nominations are eligible.

They must also pass an inspection of various problem areas, including at the letter boxes, lifts and corridors, to get the award.

Speaking on the Singapore's OK - Our Town Sparkles programme, committee chairman Cynthia Phua said at a press conference on Sunday that she hoped the number of blocks nominated for the award would increase in five years' time to half of the total number of HDB blocks in Singapore.

'We want to create awareness and a sense of ownership among residents, and remind them that a community effort is needed to keep the blocks clean,' said Madam Phua, an MP for Aljunied GRC.

In the last few months, various town councils have organised events to stress the message, including mass cleaning activities and essay and photographic competitions. Banners and posters have also been put up.

To help make sure that spring cleaning activities during the holiday season do not lead to unnecessary litter, town councils will provide free junk-removal services from now till Jan 20.

And to find out what people think of the standard of cleanliness in Singapore, the committee is conducting a public survey and hopes to gather about 5,000 responses.

Also at the press conference, Mr Jack Sim, president of the Restroom Association of Singapore, gave an update on the Happy Toilet programme, in which public toilets are given ratings according to their cleanliness and other criteria.

He said plans to help keep such toilets clean include sending cleaners for toilet cleaning courses and helping owners of coffee shops to team up and hire toilet-cleaning contractors collectively.
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Old 20-12-2003, 11:54 AM   #105
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nowadays new HDB flats come with "condo" names! :sarcastic:

Fm ST, 20 Dec 2003

More premium 4-room flats in Sengkang on offer
HDB offers 862 units of its Aspella project - which come with classy finish - for sale; demand for 4-room flats in the estate has been strong

By Tan Hui Yee

THE success of the Housing Board's recent build-to-order scheme in Sengkang has spawned the launch of another premium public housing project there.

This one, comprising eight blocks of four-room flats, is called Aspella, and 862 homes there will be on sale from today till Jan 9.

Like the earlier set of HDB flats across the road in Compassvale Link, these have finishing touches such as timber-strip flooring in the bedrooms and vanity tops in the bathrooms.

In reply to queries, HDB said yesterday that it expects a good response to the new homes, going by the enthusiastic reaction to the sale of The Coris across the road and other flats in Sengkang recently, which were all four-room units.

When it offered 448 premium apartments in The Coris and 485 other homes in the estate for sale in September, it received nearly three times as many applications as the number of units.

Under the build-to-order scheme, HDB starts building flats only when the majority of units - say 70 per cent - are taken up.

Mr Mohamed Ismail, chief executive of property agency Propnex, expects a similar or even better response to Aspella.

He sees the flats appealing particularly to newly married couples as they would probably want to save money in these uncertain times by going for smaller homes which have a classy finish.

People were already checking out the estate at the HDB showroom in Toa Payoh yesterday.

One of them was a 22-year-old female accounts officer who wanted to be known only as Shirley. She had tried for The Coris but was unsuccessful.

She said: 'These flats are cheaper because they're smaller than a five-room one. And minimal work needs to be done to renovate them.'

Aspella's apartments have floor areas of 90 to 92 sq m, and are expected to cost between $169,000 and $194,000.

Since the end of last year, HDB's build-to-order scheme has been offering only premium flats. These cost 10 to 15 per cent more than the standard homes.

Standard flats can still be bought at the walk-in selection exercises for homes that have been built, and through balloting exercises of surplus flats from the HDB's Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme.

Aspella is the HDB's fourth build-to-order project launched this year. Apart from The Coris, two others - The Sundial in Punggol and Spring Lodge in Sembawang - were put up for sale in September. However, Spring Lodge was shelved due to insufficient demand.

Last edited by sunsetbay; 20-12-2003 at 11:58 AM..
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