Lawmakers gave several suggestions as well as expressed their concerns yesterday during the debate on the Housing and Development (Amendment) Bill.
The Bill, passed by Parliament later, seeks to bolster the HDB's powers in dealing with urgent repairs and illegal activities.
Some major points made by MPs include:
Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Pasir Ris-Punggol) asked if HDB helps flat owners who cannot afford to repair ceiling leaks.
Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee assured the House that the HDB will continue to subsidise half of the repair cost under its Goodwill Repair Assistance scheme. The flat owners can also choose to pay in instalments.
Mr Lee also said HDB will carry out further investigations and do remedial works should the repairs be ineffective because of poor workmanship. These will be done free.
Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon) and Non-Constituency MP Lina Chiam asked if HDB's authority to enter flats can apply to cases of hoarding.
No, said Mr Lee.
He said HDB is separately stepping up efforts to better deal with such cases. It is roping in social workers, grassroots leaders and enforcement agencies, when necessary, to clear the clutter.
Mrs Chiam proposed that HDB officers be required to wear a recording device before entering a flat, "much like police officers who wear it nowadays for the prevention of disputes".
Mr Lee said HDB will look into her suggestion.
To deal with recalcitrant home owners, Mr Ang Wei Neng (Jurong) suggested having a demerit point system, not unlike Singapore's traffic offence demerit system and Hong Kong Housing Authority's Marking Scheme for estate management in public housing estates.
"(It) could be a preferred softer approach... before applying the harsher law of forced entry and financial penalty," he said.
Mr Lee, noting that Hong Kong's system applies to public housing tenants, said: "This system may not be immediately applicable to Singapore as the vast majority of our flats are sold to the owners. And our key objective is to facilitate entry into the flat to carry out investigation and undertake necessary repairs."
This article was first published on April 14, 2015.
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