Court dismisses woman's claim that brother denied her right to live in family home

The woman sued her brother and his family to recover $71,083 in the latest chapter of a dispute over the house at 61, Kovan Road.
The woman sued her brother and his family to recover $71,083 in the latest chapter of a dispute over the house at 61, Kovan Road.PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

SINGAPORE - The High Court has rejected a woman's claim that her oldest brother had used the issue of her dogs as an excuse to make it "intolerable" for her to live in the house willed to the siblings by their mother.

In the latest chapter of a long-running dispute over the house at 61 Kovan Road, Ms Rosaline Goh had sued her brother Lian Chyu, 79, and his family to recover $71,083.

The sum was the rent she incurred when she lived elsewhere in 2017 and 2018.

Ms Goh, 66, claimed that she had to renew her lease on a terrace house in Leith Park because she had been prevented from exercising her right to live at the Kovan house.

Ms Goh, the ninth of 10 children, alleged that her attempts to move back into the family home were blocked by Mr Goh, who lived there with his wife.

She also claimed that Mr Goh, his wife and their three children had conspired to injure her during a confrontation at the house in June 2018.

In a judgment on Tuesday (June 29), Judicial Commissioner Philip Jeyaretnam dismissed all of Ms Goh's claims.

The judge said Mr Goh expressed concerns centred on his sister's two dogs but had never denied her personal right to live in the house.

"Brother and sister simply differed on the extent to which her dogs should have the run of the house, and what measures she should take in relation to them," he said.

Mr Goh had genuine concerns over the dogs - a labrador and a golden retriever - being allowed into the living areas of the house and Ms Goh's delay in cleaning up after her pets, said the judge.

In particular, the labrador, which has since died, left puddles of saliva wherever it went.

The judge said Mr Goh's actions have mostly been "restrained and proportionate". By contrast, Ms Goh "did not do very much" to address her brother's concerns.

The siblings' mother, Madam Low Gek Huay, had bequeathed the house to her 10 children and eldest grandson before she died in 2002.

However, the property became the source of conflict among the siblings.

Between 2005 and 2019, at least five court decisions were made, including a dismissal of Ms Goh's application for exclusive use of the study at the house.

In 2017, Ms Goh wanted to move back in but said her brother and his wife insisted that she could not do so if she intended to bring her dogs with her.

In 2018, she again tried to move in with her dogs.

Her brother's family was there when she arrived. She said his children recorded her with their mobile phones and obstructed her.

She finally moved into the house in July 2019 with her dogs, and then filed the current suit.

The judge said the siblings' mother "wanted nothing more than for all her children to live in harmony".

"I can only express the hope that the siblings' halcyon days, when 61 Kovan under their mother's charge resounded with laughter and good cheer, may yet find some echo in their silver years."