Saturday, 14 March 2015

Bill introduced to let HDB officers enter flats by force to repair ceiling leaks

HDB staff may get to enter flats by force
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 13 Mar 2015

HOUSING Board flat owners may soon be required under the law to open their doors to HDB officers, in order for them to repair ceiling leaks more promptly.

A Bill to amend the Housing and Development Act to allow such entry was introduced in Parliament yesterday by Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee.

The proposed change requires the officers to give 24 hours' notice before appearing at the flat. They must show proof of their identity and an original document stating their authority to enter the flat.

The new move is to tackle uncooperative neighbours, who cause one in three cases to take more than three months to be resolved, said HDB. Last year, HDB had to take legal action against 154 flat owners to compel them to let the officers in.

With the proposed law, officers can enter a flat in two situations.

One is when there is imminent danger to public safety, like the hacking of beams that could affect the structural integrity of the building and safety of residents. Officers can then enter the flat without a court warrant.

But they would need a court warrant when the flat owner refuses entry or the flat is unoccupied, preventing the HDB officers from carrying out investigations and urgent repair works.

On these occasions, the officers are allowed to break open doors or windows to enter the flat, and demolish any obstacles in the way of repair works, the Bill stated.

Other changes to the law are aimed at flat owners who illegally sublet their flats or use them for non-residential purposes.

Currently, owners and tenants can refuse to let HDB officers enter their flats to investigate lease infringements. But soon, officers armed with a warrant can enter the flats, take written statements and compel people to provide documents and information relevant for their investigations.

The HDB said these changes would create a safer and more pleasant living environment for residents.

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