Woman who wanted court's nod to move with dogs into family home sues siblings again

The siblings' mother had bequeathed the house to her 10 children and eldest grandson before she died in 2002. PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

SINGAPORE - A long-running dispute between siblings over a house willed to them by their mother two decades ago has returned to court again.

The last court decision over the Kovan Road property was in 2019, when 66-year-old Rosaline Goh sought a declaration that she had the right to live there with her two pet dogs.

Ms Goh, the ninth of 10 children, alleged that her attempts to move back into the family home were blocked by her eldest brother, Mr Goh Lian Chyu, 79, who lived there with his wife.

On Tuesday (June 8), an eight-day hearing began in the High Court over Ms Goh's latest claim.

She has sued her brother, his wife, and their three adult children, seeking damages of $71,083 - the amount of rent she paid in 2017 and 2018 for a terrace house in Leith Park.

In her claim, Ms Goh said she had "no choice" but to renew her lease because the defendants had prevented her from exercising her right to live at the Kovan house instead.

The suit also names her sister Nellie, who is the trustee of their mother's estate, as a defendant.

Ms Rosaline Goh has called three other siblings - two sisters and a brother - to testify for her.

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

Her will stated that the property was not to be sold without the written consent of the 11 beneficiaries and that her children were allowed to occupy the house until it is sold.

However, the property of more than 4,000 sq ft became the source of conflict among the siblings and the subject of multiple court cases.

Since 2005, Ms Rosaline Goh has gone to court at least twice to affirm her right to live there.

She had moved out in 2002 after her mother's death and rented her own place.

Her lawyer, Mr Irving Choh, said in his opening statement that Ms Goh decided to move back in 2017 as her lease was expiring and she wanted to save on rental as she was no longer working.

Mr Choh said her client visited the house with sisters Judy and Shirley, but was met with "loud and aggressive" rebukes from her brother and his wife, who insisted that she could not move in 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, including blocking her path with a sewing machine.

In 2019, she asked the court to declare that she had the right to live in the house with her nine-year-old golden retriever and a seven-year-old labrador retriever.

The court declined to give a formal declaration but confirmed she had the right to live there.

Ms Goh finally moved back into the house on July 29, 2019.

She then filed a new suit to recover the rent she paid in 2017 and 2018. The case is being heard in the High Court as the claim could potentially involve Madam Low's estate.

The defendants contended that she was not entitled to damages.

They said Ms Goh was never denied the right to live in the house - she had a room there and could come and go as she pleased.

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