23 May 2018
A | A
    Print
  

Land, property, real estate & conveyancing feed-image    Litigation & dispute resolution feed-image


More spats between MCSTs and owners, collective sale cases

Straits Times
04 May 2018
K.C. Vijayan

Nearly half of the cases filed before Strata Titles Boards involve these

More cases were filed with the Strata Titles Boards (STB) last year than in each of the preceding two years, with nearly half of the overall total involving spats between management corporations of strata-titled developments (MCSTs) and unit owners or collective sale cases.

These applications make up a category known as non-water leakage cases, which saw a total of 56 cases last year - more than twice the 2015 total of 27.

There were 62 water leakage cases last year, the same as in 2015.

A Ministry of National Development spokesman told The Straits Times: "Non-water leakage cases include MCST disputes with residents and sales en bloc."

STB's role is to mediate and hear applications involving unit owners and management corporations of strata-titled properties, such as condominiums. It also deals with problems such as spats between such owners.

"The board serves an important role in mediating and settling such disputes in a prompt and efficient manner, which will otherwise clog up the court system," said lawyer Srijit Jeshua Shashedaran. "I handled a matter where the board's mediation helped settle the case on the day a hearing was due."

Lawyer Lim Tat, who also serves as honorary legal adviser to the Association of Strata Managers, believes the rise in overall case number is likely to continue, saying: "When people become more sophisticated, they are not adverse to claims and become litigious.

"Also cost-wise, owners want to safeguard the value of their unit and they can get the MCST to do something instead of directly addressing neighbours, very much like HDB flat owners would approach town councils to help settle issues."

Mr Lim added that while the number of water leakage disputes has stabilised, it may not follow that the number of actual cases is the same.

"The Building Maintenance and Strata Managment Act (BMSMA) does not require all water leakage cases to be reported or prescribe that all such cases must be resolved by way of an application to STB," he said.

"Anecdotally, I know of cases where subsidiary proprietors with water leakage cases have resolved their disputes through the joint appointment of a building surveyor (who may be appointed as the parties' expert), or through the use of mediation, or through applications filed in court (instead of STB)."

In its 2017 annual report, the latest, STB said the rise in non-water leakage applications "is primarily due to the fourfold increase in the number of en bloc applications filed in 2017 compared with 2015 and 2016."

The collective sale cases received last year included One Tree Hill Gardens and Rio Casa.

One Tree Hill Gardens, a condo near Orchard Road, was sold en bloc for $65 million, while Rio Casa, a privatised HUDC estate in Hougang, was sold for $575 million.

"The burgeoning number and complexity of cases serve to highlight the importance of our role in society. We are pleased to announce that most (if not all) of our cases were mediated successfully," STB president Alfonso Ang said in the annual report.

STB registrar Brenda Chua said: "STB has stamped a distinctive mark and stayed true to its purpose in facilitating effective dispute resolution between parties in the spirit of community living."

She noted separately in the report that there were about 3,400 MCSTs and about 354,200 strata lots in Singapore as of Dec 25 last year.

These figures include residential, commercial and industrial buildings as well as mixed developments (residential and commercial buildings).


56

Number of non-water leakage cases seen by the Strata Titles Boards last year, more than twice the 27 seen in 2015.

62

Number of water leakage cases, same as in 2015.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.