Animal Lodge tenants can look to lower rents after NParks takeover

Tenants at The Animal Lodge can expect lower rents as the National Parks Board (NParks) is set to directly oversee operations at the facility for animal welfare groups, independent shelters and pet farms.

NParks said yesterday the total rent for commercial tenants at the facility in Sungei Tengah will drop by about 15 per cent, while for non-commercial tenants, including animal welfare groups and shelters, it will be about 30 per cent.

Tenants had expressed concern before about the rents being high.

The Animal Lodge facility has 112 units housed in 20 two-storey blocks. It has shared facilities such as dog runs, as well as commercial spaces.

NParks said yesterday it manages The Animal Lodge directly, after phasing out its managing agent on Dec 5.

Mr Mohan Div Sreedharan, 54, co-founder of the Animal Lovers League, is a tenant who believes the move by NParks is a good one.

"Previously, we would pay about $600 in conservancy charges but since the external management has now been phased out, we are relieved of this charge. It eases our financial burden," he said.

Mr Mohan, who runs the registered charity, which tends to more than 500 cats and dogs, claimed there were maintenance and cleanliness issues at the facility before NParks took over.

In July 2018, Mr Marc Ha Tzen Wye, a tenant, wrote to the ST Forum page about issues at the facility. Calling it "unfit for purpose", he said his shelter had blocked pipes and windows without weather-proof meshing to protect the animals during rain.

"There is a raft of other issues that cost significant money to fix," he said.

In its response to letters, including Mr Ha's, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore said it provided the animal welfare groups with a one-off relocation assistance package worth $7,500 per unit, among other things.

 
 
 
 

The agency also said it worked with stakeholders to address the concerns that were raised, such as removing the waste that caused the blocked pipes Mr Ha mentioned and taking steps to make sure it did not happen again.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Ms Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development, said NParks will continue to offer support to tenants.

Monthly service and conservancy charges for tenants were expected to fall significantly, she added.

She also said the change aims to help tenants reduce their monthly payments.

"We recognise that the non-commercial tenants at (The Animal Lodge), the animal welfare groups and shelters, provide shelter and care for abandoned and stray animals before they are adopted.

"We are grateful for the services they have provided towards furthering animal welfare in Singapore."

Ms Sun said more improvements are being planned for the facility, and NParks would work closely with the tenants on the changes.

Some of the improvements NParks has made include improving navigation on site through the provision of directional signs and developing dog runs on existing turf areas.

Ms Jessica Kwok, group director at NParks' Community Animal Management, said: "We are continuing to work on more infrastructural improvements and these will be shared when ready."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2020, with the headline 'Animal Lodge tenants can look to lower rents after NParks takeover'. Print Edition | Subscribe