Voices // Thursday, April 19, 2007

What about minority rights?

Sales committee only keen on collecting signatures STB should offer protection

Letter from Deepak G Gurnani
Letter from Lucy Huang

I am appalled at the way the Gans were treated by their estate's sales committee ("For just one family, an en bloc shock"), and empathise with the frustration suffered by Mr Ngoei Boon Liong ("Not all winners in en bloc sales") in yesterday's paper.

In today's property market, which is not just hot but positively intoxicated, many people find themselves in a similar predicament. A peaceful home-ownership can turn into a nightmare of uncertainties. Even when one is not agreeable to the collective sales, moves by others can shatter one's dream.

My estate, King's Mansion, similarly embarked on the en bloc bandwagon recently. After appointing themselves, the six-member Collective Sales Committee (CSC) proceeded with alarming speed to churn out a Collective Sales Agreement.

Overnight, owners were expected to sign on the dotted line. No prior notification nor any dialogue was ever initiated.

Despite the fact that our estate has units of five different area sizes, the all- important apportion method and reserve price were neither discussed nor debated in advance. This has led to plenty of heartache.

The ad-hoc manner in which the self-appointed CSC has carried out the proceedings is unacceptable. Even with 25 owners objecting, the CSC has remained silent.

This goes to prove that the CSC is only concerned with obtaining the 80 per cent of signatures required for the en bloc sale. Other factors including homeowners' love and sentiment for their homes have no place or value.

My sympathies go out to the Gans, who were left clueless in their estate's en bloc exercise.

I feel all owners should have a voice in such proceedings.

The Strata Titles Board (STB) should also make it mandatory for all CSCs to discuss the replacement costs of similar properties and highlight the pitfalls, such as runaway property prices, which may leave potential en bloc sellers poorer.

The CSCs should be elected and not just constituted on an ad-hoc basis, as is currently the practice.

I am absolutely aghast at the action taken by the STB in the report, "For just one family, an en bloc shock" (April 18), about the Gans at Lincolnsvale Condominium.

What right did the Board have to "appoint a representative" to sign on the Gans' behalf when the Gans themselves did not sign the agreement to sell their home en-bloc?

I am living in a development which is on the verge of an en bloc sale. And I am one of the minority who have not agreed to the sale. In addition to persecution, abuse and accusations, will I now find that the STB is going to appoint someone to sign the transfer documents on my behalf?

What protection do homeowners have if even a Government body can decide to be partisan and take the side of the sellers?