Time's up for low-rent district 11 homes
By Desmond Ng

April 04, 2007

RESIDENTS of College Green will have to move from their rented homes by 2009.
Their landlord, Singapore Land Authority (SLA), said it is renting out the District 11 homes to National University of Singapore (NUS).

NUS wants to use the premises to provide accommodation for its overseas postgraduate students of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at its Bukit Timah Campus just across this estate.

But some 53 out of the 60 tenants there have signed a petition and have also made a presentation to the SLA to let them continue renting the properties there.
Former teacher Natalie Chew, who has been living there for four years, was one of the tenants who started the petition in February.
Madam Chew, married with three kids, is currently paying rent of about $1,800 for a four-room unit there.
Her lease will expire in September this year, but SLA has extended it to November after her appeal.
Said the 40-year-old: 'I was looking for a vacant unit for my friend in February. But when I asked the managing agent, they said that they've plans to take back all the units. I was so surprised.'
SLA said they will honour all tenancies with the existing tenants and will take back the units only upon the expiry of their tenancies.
The leases there would have expired by 2009.
Madam Chew said: 'There's no other estate like this. It's a wonderful place to bring up children, they can run around the estate and play with children of all nationalities. The community spirit here is very strong. We've Halloween parties, Chinese New Year and Christmas celebrations where everybody is invited.
'This place is so beautiful and it'll be a pity that all the people have to move out to make space for students who may not upkeep or appreciate the estate.'
The tenants we spoke to were all unwilling to move, and said the estate's central location, tranquility and good rents were hard to beat.
Tax lawyer Yvonne Lim, 35, said: 'Even if the authorities take back the whole estate, would they be able to rent out all the units to the students? It would be a pity if they chase out all the residents, and then find few takers among the students.
'This is like a little kampung and I think it should be left to people who appreciate the place.'
Madam Lim, who is married with three kids, has been living there since 2004.
She's paying about $1,800 per month for her place. Her lease will expire next year, but she has yet to find another place.
When contacted, SLA said they will consider short extensions for the tenants on a case-by-case basis.
The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy aims to provide opportunities for the education and training of the next generation of Asian policy-makers and leaders.
A SLA spokesman said: 'To attract these overseas students, the school needs to provide a pleasant and convenient living environment and experience in a housing complex close to the Bukit Timah campus.
'In support of this initiative and after careful consideration, SLA agreed to NUS' request to make use of the estate. The estate will continue to be properly maintained'.