Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Land Titles (Strata) (Amendment) Bill - The Interesting Bits

I think every major paper/media source is reporting on this, including the Business Times which had a nice full page spread of the various proposed amendments in the Land Titles (Strata) (Amendment) Bill.

For those who wish to play catch up or read the various reports, a few CondoSingapore forum members have put them up, so go here, here, here and here to read the various media reports on the Bill. Apologies that they're spread out a bit but if you read those 4 threads you'd cover CNA, BT, ST and Today :) Including the nice table from BT :)

Now comes the interesting part.

*IF* you want to read the actual Amendment Bill, you can find it on the Parliament's website and the exact link is here (requires a pdf reader eg Adobe Reader). This is the full legal document so it has to be read against the Land Titles (Strata) Act (the bill contains lots of 'delete this' 'add that'). The important thing you should note in this Bill, is the section of "Savings and Provisions". I'll get to that later :) Note also that there is a separate section now in the LT(S)A on convening of general meetings for purposes of collective sale. I have not had time to read through this carefully yet but over the next day or two, will get back to you with the specifics of the bill.

For the lawman's version, the Ministry of Law has kindly included a tabled version along with their rationale. You can find various information on their site including responses by Prof Jayakumar (on 27 August) here, and the first reading of the bill here. In the first reading is a word document that contains the tabled layman's version I mentioned, which I've included here.
I'd suggest downloading this word document since it contains ALL the changes, including those not reported in the papers.

So what's new (or can be further clarified)? (Have included the s/n so you can refer to the word doc) (Note: These are still proposed amendments)

  1. (S/N 8) - Decision on whether to form a SC must be by ordinary resolution (simple majority) in a general meeting. In effect this is a motion in the general meeting for not just the SC members, but "its powers, duties or functions" (2nd Schedule Para 3(4)). In other words, you can vote NOT to have an SC, or not to have particular members of the SC. It means you as owners are now responsible for the fate of your estate, if you decide to vote for an incompetent group to sell your soul er land.
  2. (S/N 8) - A SC may also be dissolved by an ordinary resolution at a general meeting of the MC. So if you suddenly realised that you did vote in an incompetent group, you can call for a GM and vote to dissolve the SC by simple majority.
  3. (S/N 9) - (2) above is needed because there can only be 1 SC per development at any instance.
  4. (S/N 10) - If the CSA lapse, or if the SC is voted out, the entire enbloc process stops.
  5. (S/N 12) - Para 7 of the 3rd schedule outlines clearly the GM that must be convened to decide on such matters as appointment of marketing agent, property consultant, lawyer, apportionment of sale proceeds, terms and conditions of the CSA. No longer is this done through an Owners' Meeting (where some people may be excluded 'accidentally') but a formal GM. The list of functions for GMs is extensive (p33 of the pdf file). From that Para, I consider that various actions may be possible in a GM - "provide information" (no action required), "to give updates" (no action required), "to consider" (to provide information only). [Updated 22/9/07 - 'to consider' has no voting imperative behind it]
  6. (S/N 13) - Like a proper MC, the decisions and minutes of SC meetings must be kept and placed on notice boards etc. Also, like a proper MC, the SC must keep proper accounts of money received and expended for the sale, specifying the purpose of the expenditure and receipts. And any owner can apply for the accounts to be made available to him/her. (Para 9 of 3rd schedule, pdf p34).
  7. (S/N 18) - Lawyer to certify updates on consent level. This is partly to stop some of the very questionable actions by agents in some estates which do not account for the consent level accurately. Now the lawyer must risk his signature on the dotted line :)
  8. (S/N 19) - SC to give monthly updates rather than 8 weekly updates.
  9. (S/N 21) - Applies to HUDC estates. Age of privatised HUDC estate can be taken from the date of completion of construction of the building as certified by (eg) HDB. (pdf p.19). The date of issue of CSC is the date of issue of Certificate of Fitness.
  10. (S/N 31) - If unit was sold after an enbloc sale has been awarded to a buyer, that purchase price is not considered for financial loss claims. I believe this relates to a particular estate in Dist 10 where an owner sold off his unit right after the SPA but before completion.
  11. Savings and Provisions - (pdf p37). This outlines clearly under what conditions can the new Act apply to the existing enbloc attempts. It applies to any estate that has not executed the CSA (ie achieved 80%/90%) before "the appointed day" (ie day of commencement of amended Act). It does not apply to any application made to or pending at STB before the appointed day, or to any SPA signed before the appointed day, or to any STB decision made before the appointed day. This is why some estates are pushing very hard for the 80% to be achieved before Oct - because if they don't, they have to comply with ALL the regulations in the Act. So if your estate did not elect the SC through a GM (as required in the new Act), then it'll have to do so. And it may risk being voted out if it had been bullish, aggressive etc.

Also, I noticed that there are amendments to the Building Control Act, which may put a major dent on developers' construction costs as well. This may well be another tap on the enbloc brakes, or at least developers will now have to see how much more they'll have to fork out to redevelop.

I want to go through the actual amendment bill and will get back to you with more points on it. Overall, in terms of procedures for enbloc sale, it's a major leap forward. In terms of the rationale for enbloc sale, well, nothing's been done to change the fact that urban renewal seems to be pegged at 10 year old buildings being torn down very soon after they've hit that mark.

Perhaps someone in Parliament ought to ask for the following statistics, to get a better picture:-
  • What is the average age of the estates when it is submitted to STB for collective sale approval in the period of 2005-2007? The statistics should be broken down by districts. (Idea is to see if the age of estates is young relative to other urban redevelopment projects in other highly developed cities such as Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai)
  • What is the average consent level for estates when the application is made to STB in the period of 2005-2007? (Idea is to see what is the level of dissent for en bloc sales)
  • What are the main reasons of objection raised at STB hearings and tribunals by minority owners during the period of 2005-2007, and how are these addressed in the Amendment Bill? (Idea is to see fit of amendments to problems raised through STB channels)
  • In terms of urban renewal, what is the percentage increase in number of units from the estates sold en bloc, in the period of 2005-2007? (ie no of new units developed versus no of old units from estate) The increase should be provided by districts. (Idea is to see if urban renewal is significant or not)

22 comments:

rosy said...

Wish to say really appreciate your time and effort put into helping people facing en bloc to understand the legal terms and process. Thanks! Good Work Keep It Up!
Just received EOGM notice for en bloc of my 15-year old 64 unit condo. Protemp. Com. invoking 30% quorum to start en bloc meet on that day. Should I attend to give them quorum or stay away as I am not for en bloc? Pls advise. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

You will be in the best position to advise yourself in this matter as it is YOUR HOME and MONEY that OTHER PEOPLE are playing with. THANKS.

Anonymous said...

You should attend and if the number is small, do not add to the quorum. If the number is big, you should stay to have your say or observe. Make sure there is no bullying and hidden information. Record and keep all circulars, letters & everything from now as it will surely come in handy when you want to object. Down the road, they make alterations here and there hoping no one records it. Be a smart objector.

Anonymous said...

Noted! We are dealing with en-bloc agents who can sink to such an extent. Profesional "BENGS"

Anonymous said...

plus your MC must have a list of who is eligible to attend the EOGM and who can't (ie have outstanding payments/debts etc). Not everyone can attend, and they can't add the quorum just based on the number of bodies there!

Anonymous said...

We ARE NOT DESPERADOS. Whowants to go? To each his own! We don't want to get sued defamation. We might say something butress bullies and get sued for defamation. We don,t want to end like NKF. All dirts might get dig out in public. We have a lot to be dig. one iiis we were so broke,we can,t pay maitanance fees. thats how low we are now.

Anonymous said...

Only the ones with stairs cannot be sold. our unit got no stairs. Can sell individully. En-bloc price maybe 100 per cent more. Even if we sell cheap,still make profit. only paid 1.3 m

Anonymous said...

NO woder some en-boc agent only did less than 8 deals so far although they are doing so many now all over singapore. news report dtz tops

Anonymous said...

If one cannot take feedback, they are in the wrong line anyone.How can you trust someone with selling yur LAND when they impersonate all kinds on the blog. People in these positons are suppose to be professionals. how come other en-agencies are not like that? maybe they have more class and efficant that they don't put themselves in such position. they are not empty vessals make the most noise

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that about 30 units did'nt sign.And about 20 are objectors.The ones going to the AOGM might be any observer. But won,t open his mouth in case defamation. Although he did't pay his maintanance fee, he still got a bit of share value of the land.We cannot make any more laughing stock for other enbloc agents.We told them if they want udates to read the blog.

Dr Minority said...

Erm, what estate and what blog are you referring to?

The Pariah said...

Form over Substance, Man!

Transparency for transparency sake perhaps???


In my "National Day" blog at www.singaporeenbloc.blogspot.com, I posed the question as to the credentials of the Sales Com.

In urban living, how many of us really "know" our neighbours enough to trust them to have:

(a) the KNOWLEDGE and EXPERTISE to manage the marketing agent and lawyer and evaluate their advice, spanning realty-financial-legal-commercial realms,

(b) the MORAL INTEGRITY to do what is right in selling other people's homes and commit to a deal worth hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, and

(c) the COW SENSE to make the most optimal DECISION at the most opportune TIME???


In some estates, you get a stare or a glazed look, or a nodding/waving acquaintance, or a hi-bye relationship with the people who have lived in the same estate for the past 20 years OR you may never even have their faces if they are Investor-Owners! Now you are responsible for having elected a Bozo to the Sales Com and you therefore have to take on the onus of booting Bozo out - Chiak Lak, man!

On what basis does one vote for our esteemed Sales Com member to sell our homes and most valuable asset in our entire portfolio?

Some of us WON'T even trust our father to sell our home!!!

Let's STEP OUT OF THE BOX - Should the Sales Com hold decision authority or merely execute admin procedures???

Karen said...

Hi ! Thanks for popping by. I've actually just linked to your blog cos you've got tonnes more info. I don't even dare do any more posts on enblocs and now spend my time fighting fire in a hopeful possibly misguided bid to save relationships in case the enbloc doesn't go through and everyone is now stuck with each other as neighbours. I won't be so noble to pretend that the money is peanuts though. Even NKF's peanuts cost less than what is at stake here.

Anonymous said...

many ppl here think that the new law will slow down enbloc.. i see it differently.. i think it will speed it up..

esp since now techincalities and irregularities can be bypassed as long as the sale is not prejudiced..

as long as it is not prejudiced.. GOGOGO!

Anonymous said...

A letter to your company's HEADQUATERS might help every one in a bind here!

Anonymous said...

Somehow this word 'technicality' has been abused. True techniality is acceptable. Pure technicality is a fault by itself and therefore should be void.

Anonymous said...

A suggestion for one more issue to be raised and discussed in Parliament:

• The additional consent based on area was intended to mitigate the biasness of consent against residential owners in a mixed development. What is the percentage of such developments?

• How about the additional “protection” to mitigate the biasness against owners of small units in a residential development? With the existing consent by share values, owners of bigger units in a residential development would already have more say, as bigger units would generally have more share values than the smaller units. So, to mitigate the “bullying” effect of bigger units, the 2nd consent requirement based on 80% / 90% of units would be crucial in a residential development. Why can’t 2 systems of additional consent (by area in a mixed development and by units in a residential development) be implemented?

Anonymous said...

Share of proceeds : share value vs apartment area also not addressed.

rebelrouser said...

Thanks again Dr. Minority for the great job of compiling and collating all the latest amendments to the LT Bill for easy reference to residents like me who are abroad !

Here are some of my thoughts after a quick perusal of the proposed amendments:

1) I would have proposed a further requirement for a majority of candidates for the SC to be owner-occupiers of the condo and at least one other is a member of the Management committee, otherwise they will not truly know the intrinsic value of living in that location. At least the owner-occupiers will be on the premises to ensure that the developer, agents or their delegates do not abuse the premises post- CSA.

This will also exclude a domination by speculator-owners whose main aim is to profit from a quick turnover of old condos. SC members should be made to declare how many units they own , or the duration of their ownership. 'Conflict of interest' is a very expansive aspect of the law. The stringent corporate laws to prohibit 'insider trading' should apply here. E.g. any relationship connection to protential management estate consultants who may be nominated for the management of the sale should be revealed by the candidate.

2) A parallel formation of a committee for the dissenters who do not want to sell ought to be allowed. This collective group will be the best watchdog to our interests both for bloccers as well as anti-enbloccers and ensure that the SC keep the dissenters informed as to level of consent or dissent and report on any malpractice and unfair practices going on.
This group will also be able to make a more cohesive representation to the STB on reasons for objection.

3) The grounds for objection ought to be expanded to include other social-economic factors , the quality and state of the estate and the right to query the rationale for redevelopment.

4) share value and area representation of ownership do not take into consideration the other intrinsic values of facing , the height or floor of the units when owners paid a premium for their unit. UNITS OF THE SAME AREA may not necessarily command the same price on the open market depending on floor, and facing. If developers include that in their pricing in the off plan sale stage, why should'nt the same premium differentia apply when they buy the estate. We are not just selling them the land per se , we are selling our vested interest in the airspace our units command. Airspace in high rises has an intrinsic value which should be quantifiable !After all there is space law and airspace has a legal recognised relevance per se.

5) SC members must provide a contact address for owners (as well as dissenters too) to communicate with them. Transparency and accountability must surely stem from accessibility to communicate and inform owners of what is happening.

6) 10 years is still too short and random a time for potential developers to hit an estate with sale proposals. It only encourages developers to build filmsy , shoddy buildings in time. I would like to see what amendments are made to the Building ACt to protect residents their rights to safe and sound buildings in the light of such lax rules to re-development. Law makers are not townand city planners or architects. NO one seem to be protecting the integrity of our architectural landscape and historical value.

8) The Act did not address the fact whether 850 year leases or any leasehold when re-developed will get a shorter lease , so in time Singaporeans will be getting newer condo homes with shorter and shorter leases?
Here in UK , those who own leasehold properties are allowed to buy and extend their leases and buy a longer lease from the Freehold landowner at market price. (in the case of Spore will be the government.)

Dr Minority said...

Hi rebelrouser,

Many thanks for your thoughtful post to which I agree to many of the points you raised. Some issues I have are ones that I'm struggling with as well, such as:-

1. How does one define an owner-occupier? An obvious criteria would be how long the owner has bee in residence in that estate. But how long is long? And if said owner stayed in estate for (say) 5 years but moved out for the next 5 years, is he/she entitled to be an owner-occupier, or only if that person has stayed there in the recent years? How long must one stay to become attached to one's home/estate?
2. A parallel group should be supported by legal resources as well, and it should be included in the costing of the sale. After all, if the pro-sales folks have lawyers included in the final bill, the anti-sales should likewise have the same.

All I can think of this late at night!

Again, many thanks for your comments :)

rebelrouser said...

Hi Dr.Minority,

I would deem owner-occupier as someone who has lived in the condo for at least 3 years (a random figure )whether currently or previously. At least they have had some real experience and enjoyment of the property. I know I would not qualify as an owner occupier yet I knew and vicariously enjoyed owning it through my tenants who loved it. It is obvious that it possess all the credentials to my idea of an idyllic retirement home. I have lived in many countries abroad and know what I want ,hence I bought my apartment without even viewing the inside. I know I will never find a similar unit for the price they are paying me , hence it is priceless. That is something the SLTA amendment has failed to address. On what grounds then could I object to the sale, that the price will not enable me to buy a similar like for like apartment ? Surely compensation of a similar home or an even better one must be the basis of exchange and not whatever the developer deem the market price!

You are indeed right about parallel dissenters be given the right to claim legal and professional expenses to protect their right to defend the condo! After all we pay tax (in this case our maintenance fees )to defend our country so why not our home!

Anonymous said...

For someone who is so desperately
defending its arguement on majority,
enbloc sales, sc,or "REPUTATION"?
Its an ugly motive!