Couple ordered to reinstate original balcony fixtures

A couple at a condo unit at Gallop Gables in Farrer Road was ordered by the Strata Titles Board to remove new windows and sliding doors at the balcony and replace them with items identical to the original design.

The management corporation (MC) of Gallop Gables had taken issue with Mr Ee Min Kiat and Ms Eileen Tan as the unapproved works had affected the uniformity of the external appearance of the building.

The board, which visited the estate in Farrer Road to view the renovations, accepted the differences between the unit and others were not "glaringly different".

But "the differences were however not unnoticeable", it added in decision grounds earlier this month. The case underlined a common issue some unit owners face - where items installed by owners are ordered to be removed as they are not sanctioned by the general body and involve common concerns.

In the Gallop Gables case, the couple had argued that the original windows and sliding doors at the balcony of their unit were in poor condition, including having damaged rubber linings. There was water seepage as a result.

They had been advised that changes should not deviate from the original specifications and after discussions with members of the MC in August 2013, were invited to table the matter at the next annual general meeting. But the couple continued with renovations to completion.

However, at the April 2014 AGM, the decision taken after discussion was to advise the owners and call for the windows and balcony doors of the original design to be reinstated.The MC, through lawyers led by Mr Lim Tat, said the renovations were not authorised based on the relevant sections of the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act.

The couple's lawyers, led by Mr Leonard Chia, disputed the claims, pointing out that the windows and sliding doors were set back and not part of the balcony, and the facade was therefore not affected.

The board, comprising Mr F.G. Remedios, Mr Frankie Chia and Mr Ter Kim Cheu, found the MC was not unreasonable in withholding approval for the works.

It agreed that the original items can be replaced but not with items of changed designs, dimensions and opening styles that affect the external facade.

The board ruled that the couple should remove and replace the items and also ordered them to pay $10,000 in costs.

K.C. Vijayan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2017, with the headline 'Couple ordered to reinstate original balcony fixtures'. Print Edition | Subscribe