Your Letters

Collective sale process should be fairer, more transparent

The article, Going en bloc: The long road (May 6), failed to fully highlight the plight of stayers living with the constant fear of losing the roofs over their heads. They feel helpless against a phalanx of property agents, lawyers and developers with financial muscle, not to mention being treated as pariahs in their communities.

I'm a member of an "informal alliance" of stayers, and we hope the Government will set up a committee to explore how the collective sale process can be made fairer, more transparent and less disruptive.

For a start, we would like to see a minimum age before estates become eligible to be sold en bloc.

The formula to trigger a sale should not be a one-size-fits-all approach, but calibrated based on the percentage of genuine home owners. Those who own multiple units should be limited in their number of votes.

Instead of the usual bedlam at extraordinary general meetings, where the voices of minority owners are often ignored, we would like to see a more even-handed process where everyone has a chance to have their queries answered on an online forum before owners decide whether to set up a collective sales committee (CSC).

If more than 20 per cent of home owners are against the sale, the process should be halted and not be allowed to drag on for 12 months.

But if the green light is given, the CSC should clearly spell out the steps ahead, and those not in favour must be allowed to post their alternative views.

Management committees should allow equal access to noticeboards for all parties. Currently, this is often disallowed, if not outright forbidden, for those against collective sales. Their efforts at putting up posters and distributing fliers are deemed as acts of vandalism and littering.

The rush to join the collective sale bandwagon only plays into the hands of developers who will build progressively smaller and costlier homes. In the long run, this will place a greater financial burden on the later generations of home owners. It may also affect the health of many elderly citizens dislodged from familiar surroundings and caring neighbours.

Let's not breed a corrosive national mindset that values property above family ties and community bonds. That should not be our legacy for future generations.

Philip Leow Aik Jiang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 13, 2018, with the headline 'Collective sale process should be fairer, more transparent'. Print Edition | Subscribe