Waterfront condominium sails into troubled waters

Owners approve $250,000 to fight developer over alleged defects

Residents stepping over a temporary pipe laid across the path near the taxi stand at The Sail@Marina Bay. The pipe had to be put up to supply water to one of the two towers after an underground pipe burst in April. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Residents stepping over a temporary pipe laid across the path near the taxi stand at The Sail@Marina Bay. The pipe had to be put up to supply water to one of the two towers after an underground pipe burst in April. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Residents of waterfront condominium The Sail@Marina Bay have prepared a war chest to embark on a legal battle against its developer over damaged fixtures.

Yesterday, about 100 owners and residents attended a tense, six-hour Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM), where they approved up to $250,000 in management funds to be used as legal fees.

However, three other key motions to resolve the property's issues - which ranged from falling glass panels and card access security to council members allegedly misusing their power to further their careers - failed to pass.

The long-running saga hit new heights last month, when The Sail's Management Corporation Strata Title (MCST) sent three letters of demand to its developer City Developments (CDL), calling for it to rectify the alleged defects.

Residents claim the property developer has yet to carry out any rectification work at The Sail - Singapore's tallest condominium, which has 1,100 units.

CDL confirmed that it had received the MCST's three letters. A spokesman said the MCST council had been responsible for The Sail's estate management and general upkeep since 2010.

"There were service contracts that have lapsed and repairs long overdue," he said. "There are numerous internal issues of management and maintenance against the MCST council. (Our subsidiary), having handed over the property more than three years ago, should not be dragged into their internal disputes."

Yesterday's meeting saw the condo's management council receive a mandate to take the developer to task.

Residents told The Sunday Times that barely two years after moving into their homes in 2008, numerous defects started popping up which have become almost impossible to live with.

In March 2011, they began to experience water leak issues at the lift and escalator areas.

In April this year, an underground water pipe which supplies water to one of the condo's two towers burst and cut off water supply to residents living in that tower.

"The burst pipe is a big issue," said Mr Alvin Tan, 60, a business management consultant who owns several units at The Sail. "The whole building is being compromised. The lifts were affected. There were also cracks on the glass panels of the lifts."

A 39-year-old resident, who declined to be named, said: "As an interim measure to the burst pipe, a temporary pipework connection had to be put up to supply water to the affected tower.

"This pipe runs over a path and driveway and across a postal room. It's not just unsightly, but a nuisance for people collecting their mail and a trip hazard, especially for the handicapped.

"About two weeks ago, another piece of glass shattered and fell from the glass canopy at the lobby. More than 10 such pieces have shattered in the past two years. This is seriously dangerous for people walking under it."

CDL said that the cause of the burst pipe had not been determined by the MCST.

Yesterday's motions to fit the condo's lifts with new internal finishes which are easier and cheaper to replace, as well as upgrade its security access system to encrypted card keys, were not voted through.

The Sunday Times understands that about 75 per cent of the vote share present yesterday was represented by proxy.

Yesterday's EGM also saw the failure of a motion to remove three council members accused of misusing their powers.

"They are property agents and have been subletting the units as serviced apartments," claimed Mr Tan. "This is a residential property but now we have people going in and out. It's like Geylang. I bought the units as residential units and now it's like a hotel. The Sail is located at a strategic area, but its security is a joke. Anybody can walk in.

"At the last Annual General Meeting in June, these three council members held more than 60 per cent of the proxy votes. It's a mockery for the subsidiary proprietors."

An online search showed several websites advertising short- term stays at The Sail. Under Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) guidelines on leasing and subletting of residential properties, such properties are meant for stays of six months or more.

The URA confirmed that it has received feedback that some units in The Sail are being leased for less than six months and is investigating. If investigations establish that a residential unit is being misused, the person responsible may be fined up to $200,000, imprisoned for a term of up to 12 months, or both.