Tuesday, 13 May 2008

The Dump After Completion (Image Heavy Warning)

(Note: This post contains numerous images and may take some time to load. Please be patient.)

What happens after completion, when the owners get their money and have vacated the premises?
What happens when you don't have a management council anymore?
What happens when nobody gives a damn what happens to an enbloc'd estate?

A reader sent these photos in, of an estate that has gone enbloc. He stayed till the Date of Vacant Possession when he had to hand over the estate to the developers. In the period between completion and possession, owners have very little regard for the estate, and have begun to dump their things anywhere convenient, when they were clearing out. Not only that, the reader said that there's only a skeleton cleaning crew who is struggling to clean up the corridors, as well as the vacated units, in addition to their daily chores.

At the time when the photos were taken, the estate's still about 1/4 occupied but it looked like a wasteland. Literally.

Above: Notice of 80% achieved.
Above: Carpark lights increasingly left unreplaced.
Above: Corridor lights also left unreplaced. Oddly, the block with the SC chairman is very well maintained.
Sofa and abandoned junk left in stairwells. Complete disregard of fire safety hazards.
Above: Abandoned fishtanks. Potential mosquito breeding ground.

Above: More abandoned fishtanks, this time in the main entrance which still has plenty of thoroughfare.
Above: Abandoned in corridor.
Above: Sideways sofa left in stairwell.
Above: Basement of stairwell has become a dumping ground. There was a significant increase in mosquitoes and flies in the weeks preceding Possession.
Above: Unpainted exterior. "Out" is appropriate here.

Above: Reader's own recently renovated apartment, which is due to be torn down. A complete contrast to the rundown exterior and common spaces.
Above: Reader said he will miss his home sorely. "It isn't right, when our wonderful home gets torn down barely 4 years after its renovation."

I have to agree with the reader here. These pictures put a stark face to the after effects of an enbloc sale, as well as the complete hypocrisy of tearing down what looks like a perfectly cosy home. Sorry, dear Reader, for your loss.

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Tuesday, 6 May 2008

One Committee to Rule Them All: Management Committees and Sales Committees

Back in Jan 2007, I blogged about the potential conflict of interest when a member of the Management Committee (MC) is simultaneously a member of the Sales Committee (SC) in an estate (you can read that here). I wrote (and I repeat): "The mandate of the MC is to maintain or update/upgrade the development whereas the mandate of the SC is to sell off the development in whatever condition it is in, as quickly as possible".

Over the last few days, two condominiums over at the East Coast have fully realised the consequences of this conflict of interest, when their MC contains pro-sale members, or SC members. You can read about the troubles brewing at Mandarin Gardens and Bayshore Park here , here and here.

These conflicts of interest are not illegal. In fact, the LT(S)A's Third Schedule only requires that a member of the SC discloses his/her indirect or direct interests in "any property developer, property consultant, marketing agent or legal firm, being an interest that could conflict with the proper performance of his functions as a member of the collective sale committee" (Third Schedule LT(S)A, Sect 2). So from the side of the SC, so long as the member is not involved with any of the stakeholders in the sale, it's alright. On the side of the MC, the BMSMA states that so long as the member of the MC does not have any "pecuniary interest, direct or indirect, in any contract, proposed contract or other matter which is before any meeting", it is alright as well. Nowhere in the law does it require that the member of the MC must declare and remove him or herself should s/he have any direct or indirect interest in a collective sale process. The consequences are felt at at least 2 estates now, and I'm sure countless others unreported in the media. The government needs to realise this is happening and do something.

How many of you undergoing enbloc sales have a member of the SC that is also in the MC? I've already stated in my Jan 2007 blog why this works so well in lubricating the sale process, so it's almost natural for the pro-sale group to have a member in both SC and MC. I have one in my own ex-estate - the Chairperson of the MC is the Chairperson of the SC. I can only hope that any estate involved in an enbloc sale, do their best to ensure that a member of the SC cannot be a member of the MC, and require that he/she withdraw him/herself from the MC once they are elected into the SC.

I've started a poll on this matter. Feel free to pitch in.

Previous poll results are (rank ordered):

Why are you a stayer?
My home is more than just about money: 18 (52%)
My right to a home should be sacrosanct: 17 (50%)
I love my neighbourhood: 16 (47%)
My home is a part of my identity: 9 (26%)
I'm not offered enough money: 7 (20%)
Pragmatic reasons (School, Church etc): 7 (20%)
I'm too old to move: 0 (0%)
Total voted: 34

It would appear that the top 3 reasons for people choosing to fight against an enbloc of their homes, is that they believe that their home extends beyond its value as a financial asset, that they should have the right to keep their homes, and because of the neighbourhood they live in. These are three really important reasons that unfortunately the government has chosen not to factor at all into their policy making process. A pity. Because these are the three most important reasons that establishes one's identity and affiliation to home and nation. Any wonder why some of the comments on my previous post suggests strongly that I should emigrate elsewhere, where there's less likelihood of my home undergoing enbloc?