Couple sue developer over executive condominium floor area

They say they're misled into buying EC of smaller size, file suit over $1m

A couple has sued a developer claiming they had been misled into buying an executive condominium (EC) with a floor area of 167 sq m when in fact the unit had a floor area of only 147 sq m.

The penthouse unit at Blossom Residences in Bukit Panjang has a second-floor rooftop terrace over the first floor except the living and dining area, which has a high ceiling of 4.2m.

The 20 sq m area in question is the empty space not taken up by the rooftop terrace.

The couple, who paid $56,050 for an option to purchase the $1.1 million unit, have sued condo developer Grand Isle Holdings, a subsidiary of City Developments Limited (CDL), for damages.

Mr Toh Her Chiew, 42, an IT manager and Madam Ling Mee Chow, 43, an accountant, are seeking more than $1 million for the lost opportunity to buy another EC as their income now exceeds the $12,000 eligibility ceiling.

However, the developer maintains that there was no misrepresentation on its part.

"As a reputable developer, it takes a serious view of the allegations and will vigorously defend these claims," said a CDL spokesman in a statement.

The developer notes the couple had under-declared their combined income by $370 when applying to buy the EC.

CDL says its marketing agent had highlighted to the couple that the unit came with a high ceiling over the living and dining area; this was also reflected in the sales brochure.

The developer says the option to purchase signed by the couple clearly stated the area of 167 sq m included the air-conditioner ledge, roof terrace and void.

An eight-day hearing into the case is scheduled to start on Wednesday in the High Court.

In September 2011, the couple visited the sales gallery for the EC, planning to upgrade from their five-room HDB flat.

They decided to buy the penthouse unit, paid $56,050 as the booking fee and signed an option to purchase.

About two months later, the couple complained.

They say they learnt about the void space only after going through documents that were sent to them together with the sales and purchase agreement.

The couple decided not to exercise the option to purchase. As per their agreement, the developer refunded them 75 per cent of the booking fee, which came to about $42,000.

In their lawsuit, the couple allege that the sales agent from ERA Realty Network, hired by the developer to market the condo, had misrepresented to them that the unit had a "built-in area" of 167 sq m.

The couple, represented by Mr Vijay Kumar Rai, say that the agent hid or omitted to mention the existence of the void space, which made about 12 per cent of the unit's total area unusable.

The developer, represented by Senior Counsel Ang Cheng Hock, says the agent did not use the term "built-in area" but told the couple the "size" of the unit was 167 sq m, which was true.

CDL is now seeking the return of the $42,000 which it had refunded to the couple, on the grounds that they had falsely declared their income.