Forum: Review how Goodwill Repair Assistance scheme deals with leaks

HDB housing near Bukit Panjang Road, on Nov 7, 2019.
HDB housing near Bukit Panjang Road, on Nov 7, 2019.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

For a water leak to occur on a Housing Board flat ceiling (typically toilet or kitchen), there must be a fault with a path of least resistance that allows the water to flow from a high point to low point.

The construction of an HDB flat toilet floor consists of the floor tiles on top of concrete, followed by a waterproof membrane and another layer of concrete that forms the ceiling of the flat below.

When a water leak occurs, which party, the upper floor flat owner or the lower floor flat owner, has the responsibility to ensure the toilet floor tiles, concrete and waterproof membrane are maintained properly?

Surely the lower floor flat owner has the least influence and is the one suffering the consequences of a leak.

Under the HDB's Goodwill Repair Assistance (GRA) scheme, HDB will pay 50 per cent of repair costs, and the upper and lower flat owners co-share the remaining 50 per cent. The scope of repair work does not include rectification work for any damage suffered by the lower floor flat from the leak.

When I encountered a problem, HDB advised me (the owner of the lower floor flat) to make a claim from the owner of the flat above.

Perhaps it is time to review and revise the rules. The guiding principle ought to be cause and effect, and no party should be disadvantaged.

HDB may want to consider: What is the best in class practice to prevent and deal with water leakage?

Adopt a party at fault and victim approach so as to put the onus on owners to properly maintain the flat.

Alternatively, revise the existing GRA to either make the party at fault pay a larger portion of repair costs, or make the scope of GRA cover the cost of repairing damage suffered by the owner of the lower flat as a result of water leakage.

As HDB flats age, there will be more incidents of water leakage that affect residents.

Andrew Tan Kok Chua

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2019, with the headline 'Review how Goodwill Repair Assistance scheme deals with leaks'. Print Edition | Subscribe