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

The flat's fish-loving residents also own the adjacent flat, through which they enter the unit with the blocked doorstep.
The flat's fish-loving residents also own the adjacent flat, through which they enter the unit with the blocked doorstep.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - 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 around a dozen pet fish, but was not aware that he needed permission to make the alteration.

He declined to be named when approached by The Straits Times previously.

HDB had said in January that the man could not keep the tank because of safety concerns.

But he later lodged an appeal, after working with the Tampines Town Council on measures to address issues raised by HDB.

HDB said on Tuesday (April 9) that it had rejected the man's 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.

HDB also said it has informed the town council and the flat owner of the decision.

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

When ST visited the flat on Tuesday, the tank was still in place. 

The owner, who only wanted to be known as Mr Tan, was saddened by the decision. He said he will have to remove the tank soon, but there is no deadline yet on when to do so. He has also not decided where to move his fish to.

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 submitted an appeal to the Ministry of National Development (MND) last week to keep the tank.

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

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 that the authorities would make an exception in their case on the basis that the structure was welcomed by the community.

She said: “We are not creating an eyesore or disturbance to anybody.

“If everybody keeps everything to the house, there will be no soul in the neighbourhood.”

Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng said that 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 the public and us will not be able to fully understand and appreciate.”

He said that the town council has served notice to Mr Tan to remove the tank, and will follow up with him on a time frame to do so.

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

Darwish said: “I didn’t know that it had to be removed until the news came out. I was really shocked.

“I will feel sad when it’s gone.”