Heritage East condo MC has 4 months to fix carpark system

The entrance to the Heritage East condo's mechanised carpark, which has been shut since September 2015.
The entrance to the Heritage East condo's mechanised carpark, which has been shut since September 2015.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Frustrated by an 18-month shutdown of a Katong condo's faulty mechanised carpark system, a resident sought redress from the Strata Titles Board.

Last month, the board gave the Heritage East's management council (MC) a four-month deadline to fix the system.

The board, which heard the application of Ms Ker Lee Ping, rued the " unsatisfactory" situation.

"(It) is in contradiction to the (MC)'s mandatory statutory duty to maintain the common property in a state of good and serviceable repair," said the board in decision grounds issued last month.

Ms Ker had sought an order for the MC to rectify the system and pay damages for her loss of use of the carpark, estimated at $20.42 per day.

After hearings earlier this year, the board, presided by Mr Alfonso Ang, ordered the MC to restore the system, pointing to its duty under the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act. But it dismissed Ms Ker's claim for damages.

Ms Ker, through her lawyer Joel Quah, argued that failure to repair the system caused severe inconvenience at the condo, a multi-storey apartment block off East Coast Road near Telok Kurau.

The condo has a fully automated mechanised carpark that is built within a unique twin tower structure - served by a common lift transporter - and contains 34 of the condo's 39 parking spaces.

In September 2015, water from a fire sprinkler that was activated by smoke from a condo unit resulted in the carpark being shut down for the second time in three years and it has remained closed ever since.

Ms Ker added that the temporary parking arrangements posed safety hazards as these temporary spaces allowed cars to be parked at places which blocked "crucial firefighting points".

The board heard that the MC had entered into negotiations with the carpark's sole agent, Chris-Ray Engineering, for the restoration works, but these came to a standstill as both parties could not agree on maintenance terms.

The MC, through its lawyer Simon Tan, denied it had been negligent, pointing to its earnest efforts, such as seeking the expertise of third parties and other temporary measures.

The board observed that after the carpark had been shut down, the MC had taken various steps to restore the system, including directly contacting the China-based manufacturer's engineers to restore the system.

But the MC had difficulty getting the help of manufacturer Hangzhou Xizi-IUK Parking Systems and as the system was password protected, third-party contractors could not get it restored, noted the board.

Making clear that its role was not to adjudge or get embroiled in the contractual spat between the MC and Chris-Ray, the board stressed that such disputes cannot justify the MC's "inordinate delay in restoring the carpark to working condition".

"Such matters cannot be left in a limbo until the (MC) finds, at its own time and pace, a solution. The (MC), having taken one year and six months (and counting) in attempting to resolve the matter, reflects a lack of a sense of urgency on their part in tackling the problem."

The board called for the MC to explore other options instead of becoming embroiled in disputes with Chris-Ray. It also ordered the MC to pay $5,000 in costs to Ms Ker and her filing fees for the case to be heard by the board.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 22, 2017, with the headline 'Condo MC has 4 months to fix carpark system'. Print Edition | Subscribe