HDB Officers May Get Investigative Powers To Enter Flats In Case of Lease Infringment, Under Proposed Law

Housing and Development Board (HDB) officers will have increased investigative powers to enter flats in cases of lease infringement, under a proposed law tabled by the Natio­nal Development Ministry today (March 12).

In a press release, the HDB said one of the challenges its officers face is the refusal by flat owners, occupiers or subtenants to cooperate. For instance, they may turn down the HDB’s requests to enter the flats or refuse to provide written statements or provide particulars. “Such lack of cooperation hinders the HDB’s investigation work and enforcement action against those who commit lease infringements,” said the HDB.

It added that the new law will allow it to do more to help residents and better administer its rules and regulations, creating “a safer and more pleasant living environment”. About a quarter of the feedback the HDB receives are related to ceiling leaks in flats.

Under the Housing and Development (Amendment) Bill, HDB officers will get enhanced powers of investigation such as being able to enter premises with a warrant, take written statements, obtain photographs, audio or video recordings of the flat if necessary, and require people to provide information or documents that are relevant to the investigation.

The HDB can enter a flat to carry out investigation and urgent repairs in two ways: It can obtain a court warrant, which gives it the right of forced entry if the owners ignore a 24-hour notice period and do not allow its officers to enter the flat. The HDB can also enter a flat without a court warrant when there is imminent danger affecting public safety or public health — for example, hacking of structural beams.

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan first mentioned in December that the Government is looking to amend laws to empower HDB officers to access flats. He said about 30 per cent of ceiling leak cases, or 2,800 cases, take more than three months to resolve each year because of uncooperative neighbours.

Other proposed amendments include increasing the maximum court fine against errant HDB Registered Renovation Contractors (RRCs), non-RRCs and lessees from S$5,000 to S$20,000 and/or a jail term of up to one year. The Bill will also allow the HDB to impose a maximum financial penalty of S$10,000 on the lessee and RRCs.

Currently, in cases of lease infringement, such as unauthorised subletting and the misuse of flats for non-residential purposes, the HDB may acquire the flat or impose a penalty on flat owners. The Bill seeks to allow it to vary the quantum of the penalty to match the severity of the infringement, up to a maximum of S$50,000.


Source: www.todayonline.com

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