Posted: 04 August 2011 1200 hrs

SINGAPORE

Proposed changes to the Housing Developers (Control & Licensing) Act will cover all housing developers and not just those developing projects with more than four units.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said this is to ensure that buyers of units in these smaller developments can also benefit from the protection accorded under the Act.

The suggestion was made during a month-long consultation exercise between March and April on proposed changes to the Act as well as the Housing Developers Rules (HDR).

URA will also amend the rules such that errant developers who have had their licences suspended will be blacklisted on URA’s website.

The public also gave their thumbs-up to URA’s proposed requirements for property developers to provide accurate information in the showflats and more information on the housing units to prospective home buyers.

Some 100 respondents gave their feedback in response to the URA’s online consultation.

Key proposals that received strong support include requiring developers to obtain home buyers’ consent for changes to the housing project; ensuring that showflats depict the actual units accurately; as well as publishing the prices of units sold on a weekly basis.

In addition, some respondents also gave suggestions on ways to further enhance market transparency and better protect home-buyers’ interests.

These include requiring developers to provide a further breakdown of the strata floor area by room, such as stating the sizes of individual bedrooms and kitchen areas in addition to the areas of other spaces such as balconies and private enclosed spaces.

Dennis Wee group director Chris Koh noted that such information will aid buyers in their planning. He said: “It will also set expectations right, as sometimes, the public only get a sense of what the unit is like based on the brochures or the showflat, which will never be the same.”

Chesterton Suntec International’s head of research and consultancy, Colin Tan, suggested the authorities go further by ensuring that such information is made available to subsequent buyers and not just to the original owner.

“This can be done by publishing it in title deeds or other documents,” said Mr Tan.

SLP International Property Consultants’ executive director, Nicholas Mak, felt the move to blacklist developers publicly would serve as a “very strong deterrent” to developers.

But he added: “How about those who broke rules but didn’t get their licences suspended, perhaps because they have good lawyers?”

Mr Mak suggested a demerit point system whereby developers who chalk up a certain number of points would be put on the blacklist.

No timeline has been set and URA said changes to the Act and developers rules will be “implemented in due course”.

– CNA/ls/al