HDB doesn't need warrant to enter flats

HDB doesn't need warrant to enter flats
(Right and Left) In June 2013, a Bishan homeowner removed part of a structural column while renovating the flat. That same year, a renovation contractor demolished part of the prefabricated reinforced concrete walls in a flat in Simei. HDB engineers had to do urgent repair works.

HDB officers will now be allowed to enter a flat without a court warrant if there is an imminent public health or safety threat, after an amended Bill was passed in Parliament yesterday.

In cases where a flat owner ignores a 24-hour notice period and not allow HDB to enter the flat, it will apply for a warrant.

Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee explained that the most likely situation for a forced entry without a warrant is when structural walls and columns are demolished, threatening the structural integrity of the building and safety of residents.

This will be the case especially if the owner or occupier cannot be contacted despite HDB's best efforts, or they simply refuse HDB entry.

Mr Lee also listed examples of flat owners and their contractors who put their entire block at risk after removing important structural walls during renovation works to their flats. They were later convicted and fined. (See photos above.)

CONCERNS

Several MPs, including Nee Soon MP Lee Bee Wah and Nominated MP Mohd Ismail Hussein, were also concerned about the circumstances under which a forced entry will be made.

But Mr Lee assured that although these measures might be seen as "drastic", they will be used only as a last resort.

With the amended Bill, HDB will also be able to enter flats, with a warrant, for urgent repair works such as ceiling leaks.

About 30 per cent - or 2,800 cases a year - of ceiling leak problems took more than three months to resolve, even though actual repair works took only three to four days.

Last year, HDB had about 30 cases of serious ceiling leaks where upper-floor neighbours persistently refused to co-operate despite repeated appeals by HDB. In such situations, the warrant would have been potentially applicable.

This article was first published on APRIL 14, 2015. 
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