KHAW BOON WAN: HDB SHOULD HAVE POWERS TO FORCE ENTRY INTO FLATS OF UNCOOPERATIVE RESIDENTS

SINGAPORE – Inconvenienced by a leaky ceiling from upstairs? Your problem might not take such a long time to solve if the law is changed.

Raising the issue on such problems faced by Housing Board flat residents in his blog, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan has called for laws to be amended to give the HDB power to enter flats to carry out repairs.

Writing in a blog post, he said: “We need to do more to help our residents who are inconvenienced by their neighbours who refuse to cooperate. Minimally, HDB should be given the power to enter the flat for the purpose of carrying out the necessary investigations and repairs. We will need to amend the legislation to empower the HDB to do so.”

Each year, about 2,800 or 30 per cent of ceiling leak cases take more than three months to resolve due to uncooperative residents living on upper floors. They had refused entry by the HDB officers who needed to investigate the problem and carry out repairs for ceiling leaks.

In his blog post, Mr Khaw Boon Wan wrote:

One common dispute among HDB neighbours is when one encounters leaks in his ceilings. In most instances, good cooperation between neighbours will help to fix the leaks. But sometimes, it is not so straight forward and disputes unfortunately can drag on for weeks or even months. About 25 per cent of the complaints HDB receives today concern ceiling leakages in HDB flats.

In HDB estates, the responsibility for maintaining the flats and addressing such leakages fall on both the upper and lower floor flats. HDB has a Goodwill Repair Assistance scheme to help residents with subsidised repair costs. In the large majority of cases, the repair works such as waterproofing have to be done within the upper-floor units. 140,000 households have benefitted from GRA since its introduction in 2001, and had their ceiling leakages resolved.

Unfortunately, there are some cases where the upper-floor residents have been uncooperative. They refuse to allow entry by the HDB to the flat to investigate and carry out repairs. This delays the repair unnecessarily and meanwhile, the lower-floor residents suffer the inconveniences.

Each year, about 30 per cent (2,800 ceiling leak cases) take more than three months to resolve due to uncooperative neighbours. In some rare cases, the resolution of the ceiling leak problem could take more than a year. This is just not satisfactory.

We need to do more to help our residents who are inconvenienced by their neighbours who refuse to cooperate. Minimally, HDB should be given the power to enter the flat for the purpose of carrying out the necessary investigations and repairs. We will need to amend the legislation to empower the HDB to do so.

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