Law on strata-title properties to be updated

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. A proposed rule in the Bill introduced yesterday will put a stop to MCSTs preventing residents from ins
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. A proposed rule in the Bill introduced yesterday will put a stop to MCSTs preventing residents from installing safety structures such as window grilles.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

A law that governs the management and maintenance of strata-title properties such as condominiums will get its first update since it came into force 12 years ago.

Among the proposed changes in the Building Maintenance and Strata Management (Amendment) Bill is one limiting the number of proxy votes condo owners can hold.

Currently, there is no limit to the number of proxy votes an owner can gather, and this has led to several cases of condo general meetings being hijacked by a few council members to push their agenda.

Under the Bill introduced in Parliament yesterday, an owner can be appointed to hold proxy votes for only up to 2 per cent of the total number of lots in the development, or two owners, whichever is higher.

The Building Construction Authority (BCA) said in a statement that "short of abolishing the proxy system", the proposed cap "makes it difficult for a single person to hold a large number of proxies to dominate the decision-making".

It will also encourage owners to be "actively involved in the running of their estate" by attending general meetings, added the BCA.

The changes, which will affect the 3,400 management corporation strata titles (MCSTs) - or managing bodies - here, come after a review and three public consultations that first started in 2012.

Another amendment in the Bill will prevent a person from holding more than one of the three office-bearer posts - chairperson, secretary or treasurer - in a bid to promote good governance.

Currently, there are about 305 councils where a person is holding at least two such posts. While smaller developments with 10 or fewer lots will be exempt from the proposed rule, about 160 MCSTs will still have to get at least one more person to take up a post.

Another proposed rule will put a stop to MCSTs preventing residents from installing safety structures such as window grilles. There have been reports of some councils doing so, on the basis that it would affect the building's appearance.

The Commissioner of Buildings may also be given the power to step in and appoint an official manager when serious disputes between owners prevent the council from carrying out its duties, or when there is a health or safety concern.

Also introduced in Parliament yesterday were the Jurong Town Corporation (Amendment) Bill, which proposes the transfer of industrial properties under the Housing Board to the Jurong Town Corporation, and the Professional Engineers (Amendment) Bill that contains changes aimed at boosting the quality of engineering services.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2017, with the headline 'Law on strata-title properties to be updated'. Print Edition | Subscribe