Parliament: Bill introduced to let HDB officers enter flats by force to repair ceiling leaks

SINGAPORE - Housing Board flat owners may soon have to open their doors to authorised HDB officers, so that these officers can repair ceiling leaks more promptly.

On Thursday, Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee introduced a Bill in Parliament to amend the Housing and Development Act to allow this.

The proposed change to the law, if passed, will empower authorised officers to enter any flat at any reasonable time, after giving 24 hours' notice.

This is to investigate whether any urgent repairs need to be carried out in a flat and to carry out the necessary repairs.

Before entering the premises, the authorised officer must produce proof of his identity, and an authenticated document showing his authority to do so.

If entry has been refused, the premises are unoccupied, or the flat's owner or occupier are absent, the officer may be granted a warrant to enter forcibly if necessary, the Bill states.

In such cases, the officer is authorised to break open doors or windows to enter the flat, and demolish any obstacles in the way of repair works.

The change in the law is an effort to deal with the third of ceiling-leak cases which take more than three months to be resolved due to uncooperative neighbours. This amounts to about 2,800 cases every year, said HDB.

Some upper-floor residents refuse entry to the HDB to carry out repairs.

"This delays the repair unnecessarily and, meanwhile, the lower-floor residents suffer the inconveniences," wrote National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan in a blog post last December.

charyong@sph.com.sg