Govt evaluating public feedback on en bloc laws
Channel NewsAsia
1 Jun 2007 2252 hrs
Daryl Loo

SINGAPORE : The government expects to finalise the amendments to the law on en bloc sales in August or September.
The Law Ministry has received feedback from more than 100 contributors during a six-week public consultation on the proposed changes, which ended on May 12.
The en bloc sales fever is showing no signs of letting up, driven by escalating home prices which are prompting developers to fork out more cash for land to build on.
And ahead of the changes to the law on such sales, there are reports of some homeowners rushing to wrap up en bloc deals.
But some market watchers that Channel NewsAsia spoke to say there is actually no need for concern.
Lim Song Hai, National Director, Investments, Jones Lang LaSalle, said, "The effects of these amendments are actually positive, and the market will also remain rosy for some time to come. In particular, there will be a master plan review in 2008, so I really do not see any urgency in moving forward, or hastening the pace of the collective sale process."
The proposed changes include mandating a majority vote based on total number of units in the development.
This is targeted at developments with a mix of residential units and shops.
But some consultants say one issue that still remains to be addressed is that of the displaced home-owner who cannot afford a new home in the same area after selling.
Dr S K Phang, Lawyer, says, "I empathise with (the homeowners). They are being disturbed. They say (your) home is your castle. Suddenly you are forced to sell, and for a price that may not be enough for you to get back to the original estate with the same size. You got to downgrade or downsize, or worse still, both. I think that justifiably gives them a certain degree of moral outrage."
One way around this could be to require that owners be given the option of a replacement unit in the new development.
Dr Phang says, "A bona fide owner should have the mandatory right to have a unit in exchange. There're a lot of things to manage when you talk about that, such as what size, what level, what orientation, what is the layout and all that. I agree that there are certain issues to manage, but they are not difficult to manage."
Last year, owners of the 20-unit Paterson Lodge pulled off an en bloc deal where they were given replacement units with similar attributes to what they gave up.
The total value of en bloc deals has hit S$16 billion so far this year, far surpassing the record S$8 billion set in 2006. - CNA/ms