20161003 PAP should not force HDB lessees to pay for lift enhancement/upgrading

The irresponsibility of our incompetent part-time, estate-manager MPs will soon cost taxpayers and HDB residents dearly. Last month, the government announced a $450 million Lift Enhancement Programme (LEP): HDB will foot 90% of the bill while the balance 10% will be borne by ‘owners’ through an increase in S & CC akan datang.

On the surface, it appears the government has been overly generous. But the fact is ‘owners’ are being scammed. Again.

The elephant in the room – there is no such a thing as a HDB ‘owner’. Every ‘owner’ is in fact only a ‘lessee’, tenants of our HDB landlord. ‘Owner’ and ‘lessee’ have been used interchangeably for decades despite the fact that both have entirely different meanings. Which citizen can own public property?

How the PAP went about this is by redefining ‘lessee’ as ‘owner’ via the HDB Act. This is the explanation given to me by HDB’s Principal Legal Counsel. But the fact remains that all the rules pertaining to HDB ownership are drawn up by HDB. The HDB Act does nothing but obfuscate the true ownership of public property. So long as ‘lessees’ continue to ‘feel shiok’ believing they are owners, they are willing to pay for the maintenance of public property and HDB assets. To better understand the difference between ‘owner’ and ‘lessee’:

When one buys a car, ownership is transferred from the seller with no attaching conditions on its usage. But when one leases a car, the leasing company imposes conditions, similar to what HDB does. The car (HDB flat) still belongs to the the leasing company (HDB).

When it comes to renting out our HDB flats, again the legally correct term ‘sublet’ has been used because ‘owners’ are in fact only tenants of HDB. We are also required to inform HDB because it is our landlord.

Does an ‘owner’ of a private apartment need to inform anyone when he/she decides to rent out the property?

The lease agreement states very clearly that HDB is the lessor and ‘owners’ are only ‘lessees’. There is no confusion.

The reason for the ‘owner’ label – delegate the cost of maintaining HDB assets to ‘lessees’. Over decades, this has resulted in billion$ in savings for the PAP government, eg 30 to 35% contribution to the sinking fund. Lifts, pumps, block repainting, sweeping and washing of common areas, etc are all the responsibility of HDB, the real owner of our flats.

Remove the illusion of ‘ownership’ and we have the lowest home ownership rate in the universe.

In the upcoming LEP, the government could have easily foot the total cost of $450 million instead of only 90%. But why should it when HDB ‘lessees’ have continued to mistake themselves as ‘owners’, willing to pay and pay?

HDB ‘owners’ have been fleeced for decades and must start to speak up or we will continue to pay for the upkeep of public areas and assets which belong to the government. Recall Roy speaking up against the immoral retention of our CPF which resulted in a 20% lump sum withdrawal at age 65? The government knew there was no basis in retaining our retirement savings and had therefore agreed to return billion$ to their rightful owners.

Similarly, if we don’t speak up against shouldering the maintenance cost of assets belonging to the government, collectively, billions will go into the government’s pocket. This is neither fair nor right. PAP seeks control of public housing and it has to pay the price for control, not HDB lessees.

In short, all the rules pertaining to HDB flat ‘ownership’ are dictated by HDB: it is therefore self-insulting to consider oneself an owner. Which individual can own public property?

HDB ‘lessees’ are merely long-term tenants of HDB and we only possess a super long-term lease, nothing more.  Maintenance of HDB assets such as lifts is the responsibility of the government, not lessees.

Elected MPs should speak up and not allow HDB ‘lessees’ to be perpetually fleeced by the government. The HDB Act acts against the interest of public housing tenants and has to be revamped.

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7 Responses to 20161003 PAP should not force HDB lessees to pay for lift enhancement/upgrading

  1. Paul lampa says:

    And we pay 2.6% interest for HDB loan, 0.1% above CPF interest rate while private property owners pay as low as 1.6% interest for their mortgage.

    We are really screwed left right centre by the PAP government.

    • Phillip Ang says:

      HDB, CPF, public transport, public healthcare, etc the objective of corporatisation is solely to profit from citizens and at the same time create million-dollar jobs for PAP elites.

  2. sinkie says:

    Some facts that most Sinkies DON’T know:
    1) HDB lessees don’t have any title deed, even if you have fully paid up your HDB mortgage. Many Sinkies think that since they have not fully paid up their HDB mortgage, therefore their HDB title deed is retained by HDB or their mortgagor bank. WRONG!! There is legally NO SUCH THING as a HDB flat title deed. What you have instead is a legal document called AGREEMENT FOR LEASE. That is, legally you are simply LEASING a flat from HDB. In the old days, HDB will give you the actual original Agreement after you’ve paid up the mortgage. Since the 1990s, the original Agreement For Lease are held in safekeeping by HDB legal department by default, even after you have fully paid up your HDB flat. You can ask HDB to give you the Agreement document after you’ve paid up your mortgage.

    2) Only true owners of private property (even 99-yr lease private property) have title deeds, either full title deeds or strata title deeds. Singapore’s title deeds will state down the Mukim lot number of the property. In strata title deeds, they will also state the percentage ownership of the Mukim lots. And for leasehold property (whether strata or full mukim) the deed will specify the start and end dates.

    3) Real property owners can do things on their land, within the land’s legal land-use status. E.g. build a wall to keep out non-owners, hire private security guards, to add swimming pools or tennis courts solely for use by owners, to sell the land to developers e.g. enbloc, to build shops to rent out for extra income (if land-use is mixed residential/commercial), etc etc. OTOH the land on which your HDB block sits is still owned by HDB/govt and designated as public property. HDB has sole discretion on what to build or put on land around your block, or when to call SERS. Many Sinkies kena slapped when suddenly HDB converted their void decks for things they didn’t vote for e.g. day-care centres, dialysis centres, kindergartens, RC/PA offices etc etc. In fact the lifts in your HDB block and the corridors and space outside your main door is also public property owned by HDB — strangers can legally use & loiter around your corridors.

    4) Lessees & tenants are still required to pay for conservancy & town council services. This is the normal practice even in other developed countries. HOWEVER they DON’T pay for any SINKING FUND. Lessees/tenants should only pay for the actual costs of maintaining their estates & public surroundings e.g. salaries of workers, equipment & supplies, term contracts for specialized services such as lift maintenance, electrical, plumbing/sewerage etc. Sinkies are the ONLY idiots in the whole WORLD who are paying thru their nose for public housing SINKING FUND.

    5) In spite of what the anonymous HDB Principal Legal Counsel has said about HDB lessee being the same as owner, in the eyes of Singapore Law and Singapore Courts, HDB lessees ARE NOT owners. Simple as that. What HDB Act provides is that HDB buyers are special category of lessees with rights to sell in resale market or transfer rights in the remaining lease to another person e.g. children. But HDB lessees are not owners. That’s why you don’t get a title deed. And you cannot fuck around with the land downstairs or even the corridor outside your flat. Even the HDB principal legal counsel knows this and therefore he/she dare not categorically and unequivocally state that HDB lessees are true owners in the eyes of Singapore common law with same rights as private property owners. Instead he/she chose to play with words, putting the word “owner” in double quotes and stating that people who buy HDB flats are “owners” within the context of HDB Act, and saying that HDB buyers have similar “owner” rights to sell or transfer.

    6) This misleading use of HDB lessee=owner has its roots in historical political expediency and nation building. In the 1960s, PAP realized that many Sinkies were basically still economic refugees renting rooms in the city or squatting on rural patches of land — their emotional ties & so-called loyalty to Singapore primarily a function of being able to earn an acceptable living & being able to raise a family. But how to give a national stake to Sinkies while not losing control of the country to the unwashed Sinkie masses??? PAP hence deliberately confiscated generations-held property from many people in exchange for HDB flats, and telling Sinkies that they are now property owners. PAP knew that by making people sacrifice enough sweat, money & tears in a so-called property, they will find it much harder to up & leave if economy deteriorates & also easier to brainwash in terms of setting roots and NS and instilling national pride. Such policy and thinking has been quoted by none other than LKY many times, both in newspaper archives and in his books.

    • Phillip Ang says:

      Thanks for sharing. 🙂 HDB ‘owners’ fear facing the ‘HDB-flats-are-not-yours’ reality. Naively, they go around boasting to foreigners about our most expensive cage in the sky while PAP elites continue to laugh all the way to the bank.

  3. sinkie says:

    Oh BTW the anonymous HDB Principal Legal Counsel purposely left out the below additional rights that is unique to S’pore public housing “owners”. No other public housing lessees / tenants in the rest of the world have such special rights. Besides having the right of sale or transfer, Sinkie special HDB “owners” also have the right to:
    1) Being charged property tax even though legally they are not real property owners and don’t have any title deeds.

    2) Being responsible for all structural upkeep & maintenance of the public flat e.g. leaking ceiling, spalling concrete, loose windows, cracks, popped up floor tiles, etc etc.

    3) Being charged if windows dropped off & liable to jail time and/or confiscation of flat.

  4. Phillip Ang says:

    Sorry, her email and name were blanked out. Please contact her and press for an answer but be prepared to be frustrated. Her name is Faridah Eryani Pairin. Email @ fep1@hdb.gov.sg.
    Not sure if she’s still with HDB. Please check.

  5. abpap says:

    I am fairly certain the entire thing cost less than $450m. As always, the pap govt pump the figure to show how much the pap govt lost by “giving” you something such as HDB flats, medical treatments. The govt said a carpark lot COST them $20k

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