Published June 14, 2007

En bloc sales: Govt starts second public consultation


(SINGAPORE) The Ministry of Law is conducting a second consultation process on the issue of collective property sales - following an earlier public consultation completed in May.

Latest case: Some home owners are contesting the Gillman Heights sale, citing non-compliance with the Land Titles Act as a reason to seek mediation

Sources say that the second consultation process involves professionals involved in collective en bloc sales, including consultants and lawyers.

The Ministry of Law revealed earlier that it received suggestions from over 100 contributors during the period of the first consultation from April 2 to May 12, 2007.

Minister for Law, Prof S Jayakumar had earlier announced in March that it would propose amendments to the law on en bloc sales.

The further consultation comes at a time when more unhappy home owners are challenging plans for the collective sale of their homes.

The latest case involves owners of 32 units at Gillman Heights who have decided to contest the sale of their residential development, citing non-compliance with the Land Titles (Strata) Act (LTSA) as a reason for seeking Strata Titles Board (STB) mediation.

Mediation between the minority owners and the sales committee is being held today.

One issue that the minority owners want to raise is that they believe the sales committee did not comply with Section 84A of the LTSA when it sought only 80 per cent approval from Gillman Heights owners for the collective sale instead of 90 per cent, as required for buildings under 10 years old.

The lawyers for the sales committee, Lee & Lee, could not be reached for comment.

The owners are represented by solicitors, Tan Chin Hoe & Co.

Documents filed by the minority owners through their solicitor with the STB show that one of the points of contention is that even though Gillman Heights, a former HUDC estate, was completed in 1984, the process of privatisation began in 1995 but was completed only in 2002.

This was the year in which the Building Control Authority (BCA) issued the Certificate of Statutory Completion (CSC) for the estate after work on additional facilities was completed.

The objection filed with the STB states that: 'The authorised representatives of the sale committee failed to inform this Honourable Board that the latest TOP (temporary occupation permit) was issued for the clubhouse - built together with other facilities at the cost of close to $3,000,000 - of Gillman Heights was on 27 November 2002. The CSC was issued by BCA on 23 October 2002.'

The minority owners are also objecting to the collective sale on other grounds including the price paid for Gillman Heights ($548 million), the way this is being apportioned, and the conduct of the sales committee.