March 4, 2007

How do I change our shares in condo that's awaiting its TOP?

Q IN AUGUST 2005, my wife, my daughter and I bought a 99-year leasehold condo which should receive the temporary occupation permit (TOP) by next year. The private property is held as a 'tenancy in common' with our respective percentages but now, we would like to change those percentage shares.

Kindly advise us how to go about doing it. Do we need a lawyer to effect the changes and what are the costs to be incurred? Can we do the change now or should we wait until we get the TOP ?

A Since the property you have purchased is still under construction, the manner of holding (that is, your respective shares in the property) will be officially effected only at about the time when the TOP is issued. When you make payment to the developers upon the issuance of the TOP, your lawyers will inform the developers of the manner of holding by your co-owners and yourself (in your case, tenants-in-common in specified percentages).

The developers' solicitors will then file a notice of transfer with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore informing them, among other things, of the manner of holding. Such manner of holding will be finally further recorded and registered in the transfer document to be lodged with the Singapore Land Authority when the separate title to the condo unit is issued after the TOP is obtained.

Presumably, you have already instructed your lawyers on the manner of holding. Your instructions have probably not been effected since the TOP and the separate title have not been issued. You should therefore quickly give fresh instructions to your lawyers on the amended percentage of holding so that they will give the updated information to the developers when the TOP is issued. Your costs, if any, will be nominal.

In the event that your fresh instructions are given only after the manner of holding has been effected, you will incur stamp fee and legal costs.

The costs can be estimated to be about 3 per cent of the market value of the share of the property which is the subject matter of the change in percentage.

Lie Chin Chin
Lie Kee Pong Partnership

Advice provided in this column is not meant as a substitute for comprehensive professional advice. E-mail questions to [email protected]