Govt taking back 191 homes in Geylang when lease ends

The houses in Geylang Lorong 3 were sold on 60-year leases in 1960. Thirty-three owners are still living there. The rest of the units are being used for religious activities or are rented out to foreign workers. This is the first time a residential p
The houses in Geylang Lorong 3 were sold on 60-year leases in 1960. Thirty-three owners are still living there. The rest of the units are being used for religious activities or are rented out to foreign workers. This is the first time a residential plot of land will reach the end of its lease.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
The houses in Geylang Lorong 3 were sold on 60-year leases in 1960. Thirty-three owners are still living there. The rest of the units are being used for religious activities or are rented out to foreign workers. This is the first time a residential p
The houses in Geylang Lorong 3 were sold on 60-year leases in 1960. Thirty-three owners are still living there. The rest of the units are being used for religious activities or are rented out to foreign workers. This is the first time a residential plot of land will reach the end of its lease.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Units at Geylang Lorong 3, where the leases will end in 3 years time.
Units at Geylang Lorong 3, where the leases will end in 3 years time. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Objects in a fish tank outside a unit along Geylang Lorong 3.
Objects in a fish tank outside a unit along Geylang Lorong 3. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Potted cactuses and a porcelain fish are seen at a units along Geylang Lorong 3.
Potted cactuses and a porcelain fish are seen at a units along Geylang Lorong 3. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
A letter from the SLA informing residents about the end of lease is seen in a make-shift postbox of one of the affected units along Geylang Lorong 3.
A letter from the SLA informing residents about the end of lease is seen in a make-shift postbox of one of the affected units along Geylang Lorong 3. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Units at Geylang Lorong 3.
Units at Geylang Lorong 3. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

There will be no extension; private terraced houses must be vacated by end-2020

In a first for residential properties in Singapore, 191 private terraced houses in Geylang Lorong 3 will be returned to the state when their leases run out at the end of 2020, with no extension allowed.

For the 33 home owners who are still residing there, time is running out. They will have to hand back vacant units to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) when their leases run out in 31/2 years, with no compensation.

Each of the 191 units will be assigned a dedicated SLA officer who will be the home owners' point of contact with the authorities, the SLA said in a statement yesterday.

Yesterday morning, 16 SLA officers went knocking on doors of the houses, which were sold to residents on a 60-year lease term in 1960, to introduce themselves to the owners and guide them through the process.

The last transaction, in December 2015, was for an 854 sq ft unit that cost $88,000.

Only 33 units are owner-occupied. The remaining units are used for religious activities or are rented out to foreign workers when the homes' original owners moved out over the years.

 

Owners will have to remove all their belongings and terminate their utilities and services. They will also have to pay all outstanding bills, said the SLA.

This is the first time that a residential plot of land will reach the end of its lease.

Unlike land acquisition by the Government, where compensation is given for the remaining lease, Geylang Lorong 3 residents will not get any since the lease will have run out in 2020, said the Law Ministry's deputy secretary Han Kok Juan.

The 2ha plot of land in Geylang Lorong 3 will be earmarked for future public housing, but the SLA did not give a timeline for when the redevelopment process will start or be completed.

SLA's chief executive Tan Boon Khai said: "As a general policy, upon lease expiry, the state land and the property will revert back to the Government. In this case, there are exciting plans to rejuvenate the Kallang area, and this site will be slated for public housing."

SLA said owner-occupants will not be left without options for alternative housing.

Owners can buy a Housing Board flat or private property if they do not already have alternative housing. They can also choose to rent a home.

The Straits Times reported on the impending lease expiry at Geylang Lorong 3 in April, with several residents expressing their concern that they will have no place to relocate to.

One resident told reporters yesterday that she only learnt about the lease expiry issue from the ST report.

Said Madam Tan Whay Seok, 69, who works as a hawker nearby: "We are now very anxious because we don't know where to go after this. Recently, we spent a lot of money on my husband's leg surgery, so we do not have a lot of savings left.

"I now hope that we can be allowed to live nearby."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2017, with the headline 'Govt taking back 191 homes in Geylang when lease ends'. Print Edition | Subscribe