HDB rejects owner's appeal to keep koi tank outside flat

A flat owner who had converted his property's doorstep into a fish tank (above) for his koi carp has failed in his appeal to keep the structure. Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng told ST that HDB and Tampines Town Council are exploring a plan to install
A flat owner who had converted his property's doorstep into a fish tank (above) for his koi carp has failed in his appeal to keep the structure. Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng told ST that HDB and Tampines Town Council are exploring a plan to install a community pond or tank in the area to serve as a new home for the koi, but the owner would have to agree to the plan and donate his fish.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Town council serves notice to him to remove structure; owner says he will not appeal further

A Housing Board flat owner who had converted the doorstep of his property into a fish tank for his koi carp has failed in his appeal to keep the unusual structure.

The Tampines Street 41 resident installed glass panels to the walls around the four steps leading to his ground-floor unit to house about 10 fish, but was unaware that he needed permission to make the alteration.

HDB had said in January that the man could not keep the tank because of safety concerns. But he lodged an appeal, after working with Tampines Town Council on measures to address issues raised by the Housing Board.

HDB said yesterday that it had rejected the appeal.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, a spokesman said: "Aside from the safety concerns that were earlier highlighted, there is a more fundamental reason to turn down the request to retain the koi tank.

"The stairway area outside the unit is common property... Any fixed installations by flat owners have to be confined within the premises of their unit, and not placed on common property."

The owner has also acknowledged that the stairway is common property, the spokesman added.

Under the town council's by-laws, it is an offence to have unauthorised fixtures on common property.

 
 
 
 

The flat's residents also own the adjacent unit, through which they enter the flat with the blocked doorstep.

The owner, who wanted to be known only as Mr Tan, was saddened by the decision. He said he would have to remove the tank soon, but there is no deadline yet on when to do so.

Mr Tan added: "I think there will be no more appeals. It is a waste of time to me."

He said he had submitted two appeals to the HDB, both of which were unsuccessful. He had also appealed to the Ministry of National Development (MND) last week.

Mr Tan said MND had suggested that a community pond or tank, where his fish could be moved to, could be built in the area.

NOT FOR COMMON PROPERTY

The stairway area outside the unit is common property... Any fixed installations by flat owners have to be confined within the premises of their unit, and not placed on common property.

'A HOUSING BOARD SPOKESMAN, on the reason for turning down the request to retain the koi tank.


VALUE TO THE COMMUNITY

It's not just about digging two holes. You need to think about what is the attraction there and what is really useful for the community... Hopefully, something good will come out of it. I am a bit tired of this.

MR TAN, the owner of the koi carp, on the Ministry of National Development's proposal for a community pond or tank.

Of the proposal, Mr Tan said: "It's not just about digging two holes. You need to think about what is the attraction there and what is really useful for the community.

"Hopefully, something good will come out of it. I am a bit tired of this."

His wife said they had hoped the authorities would make an exception on the basis that the structure was welcomed by the community.

She said: "We are not creating an eyesore or disturbance... If everybody keeps everything to the house, there will be no soul in the neighbourhood."

Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng said the town council will accept that HDB's decision is final.

Mr Baey said: "Of course it is a pity that this is the final outcome.

"But I also understand where the HDB is coming from. As the national agency, they have to be consistent, and they probably have wider considerations that we and the public will not be able to fully understand and appreciate."

He said the town council has served notice to Mr Tan to remove the tank, and will follow up on a timeframe to do so.

Darwish Sofyan and Mafi Rajah, both 10 years old, were disappointed with the outcome. The pair, who live in the neighbourhood, visit the tank at least once a month.

Darwish said: "I will feel sad when it's gone."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2019, with the headline 'HDB rejects owner's appeal to keep koi tank outside flat'. Print Edition | Subscribe