URA seeks public views on changes to property sales rules

Proposals aimed at better protecting buyers of uncompleted non-residential property

The public is being asked to have a say on proposed changes to two key guidelines that cover the sale of commercial property.

The aim of the changes is to better protect buyers of uncompleted non-residential property, by improving transparency and raising industry standards, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said yesterday.

The URA is also consulting the public on measures to be imposed on developers to tackle money laundering and terrorism financing.

Industry stakeholders, such as the Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore, have been asked for their views as well on the proposed changes to the Sale of Commercial Properties Act (SCPA) and Sale of Commercial Properties Rules.

Some of the proposed changes to the SCPA - first enacted in 1979 to address unfair sales practices in non-residential properties - include requiring developers to obtain a sale licence before they can sell units in uncompleted non-residential projects with more than four strata units.

Developers will have to meet minimum qualifying requirements before they can obtain the sale licence.

Companies selling uncompleted non-residential projects will also be required to open and maintain a project account to ensure that purchasers' progress payments are used only for purposes related to the project.

Developers will be required to implement measures to meet Singapore's obligation to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.

The URA is looking at rolling out new rules on advertisements, such as having non-residential developers provide basic and accurate information on the project, such as the tenure and the expected date of vacant possession.

Ads must be in accordance with approved plans and must not contain any false or misleading information.

Non-residential developers will also be required to provide additional key information on the project before accepting a booking fee from a prospective buyer.

This would include a drawn-to-scale floor plan that should depict all floor spaces - for example, air-con ledges and void - in the strata unit as well as the developer's track record.

Show units will also have to accurately depict the actual approved units.

The URA is also proposing requiring non-residential developers to obtain buyers' consent for any changes to the unit or substantive changes to the common property, if these alterations are not due to new requirements introduced by the authorities.

Feedback is also being sought on amending the payment schedule to set aside 4 per cent of the purchase price for defect rectification. This will allow buyers to claim the cost of rectification if the non-residential developer fails to carry out the work.

Developers will be required to implement measures to meet Singapore's obligation to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.

New rules will be implemented to impose the requirements on all residential and non-residential developers, such as having to conduct customer due diligence checks.

The public can visit https://ura.sg/scpafeedback to leave feedback until March 12.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2018, with the headline 'URA seeks public views on changes to property sales rules'. Print Edition | Subscribe