Apartment owners welcome news that they may no longer be stopped from putting up window grilles

If proposed amendment becomes law, they cannot be prevented from installing them

The Strata Titles Board recently ordered the MCST of 19 Shelford Road (above) to allow a unit owner to install "invisible" grilles at his balcony. ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

Window grilles are as commonplace in residential homes here as air-con compressors sitting on balconies. They are mainly for safety, to keep children from climbing out of the windows.

Yet some private estates have not allowed grilles to be installed.

This is despite the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) reminding management corporation strata titles (MCSTs) in 2015 that home owners should not be stopped from installing grilles to prevent harm to children.

But it may become the law soon, if a proposed amendment to the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act, tabled last Tuesday, is passed in Parliament.

The BCA told The Straits Times that there have been cases where apartment owners had not been allowed to install safety grilles because the management corporations (MCs) "deemed that it would affect the appearance of the building in the development".

Mr Roger Seow, 46, who did not want to take any chances, has spent $1,700 to have stainless steel cables, or invisible grilles, installed before he and his family move into their new apartment at The Vales executive condominium in Sengkang in two months' time.

His estate allows the grilles but looks at their designs.

"It's to prevent my two-year-old from falling out," said Mr Seow, who works in sales. "My son is very active. He likes to climb... It's better to be safe than sorry."

The father of two is one of many apartment owners cheering last week's announcement that MCs may no longer be able to prevent residents from having window grilles installed.

Mr Eugene Lim, key executive officer at ERA Realty, said it will be a good thing. "Grilles do not have an impact on the value of the house. What's important is whether the condo is well-maintained."

Besides, apartment owners "install grilles internally, (and) these are not permanent structures".

At present, some condominiums allow only certain types of grilles. And BCA's 2015 reminder did state that home owners had to have the grille designs approved by the MCs.

At The Esta in Amber Gardens, only "invisible" grilles are permitted, for aesthetic reasons.

Mr Richard Ong, condominium manager for The Esta, said: "We want to preserve uniformity, or else it will be quite unsightly."

Mr David Tan, director of Invisys, a company that sells invisible" grilles, said he has seen a 30 per cent to 40 per cent year-on- year increase in business since opening in 2010. About 70 per cent of his customers live in condos.

These grilles - which keep people from falling out, rather than deter burglars - can usually be installed within a day.

The BCA said that even with the proposed amendment, home owners will still have to "ensure that any such safety equipment installed does not mar the appearance of the building".

"Developers and MCSTs are thus encouraged to provide design guidelines for the installation of safety equipment so that purchasers and subsidiary proprietors can adopt them to maintain a certain uniformity in appearance."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2017, with the headline Apartment owners welcome news that they may no longer be stopped from putting up window grilles . Subscribe