BCA to review proxy voting system in management of condos

Home owners at two high-end condominium projects are taking the developers to court over alleged defects and damaged fixtures.

And the disputes have drawn attention to issues like infighting among condo management councils, and the abuse of proxy votes.

Responding to queries from Channel NewsAsia, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) says it is reviewing the proxy system.

An announcement by BCA on the review is due in the coming weeks.

According to the Authority, the proxy system is being reviewed as part of a on-going review of the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act.

For about five months now, a temporary pipe has been supplying water to some residents at The Sail@Marina Bay after an underground water pipe burst last April.

There were also leaks from the ceiling of one of the residential towers earlier this week on Wednesday and they are just some of the woes faced by residents there.

The Sail’s management corporation has decided to take the developer to task over the alleged defects.

And the developer, City Developments, said it is investigating the matter.

Anthony Chia, Director – Projects, City Developments Limited, said: “One cannot conclude that it is in fact a defect, until the cause is determined. Things can break down from wear and tear, improper maintenance, and even external forces.”

Condos in Singapore are run by a management corporation with its council members made up of elected residents to represent the collective interest of home owners.

But some of these management councils may not be very representative at all.

According to residents at The Sail@Marina Bay, there are cases where up to 75 percent of residents vote by proxy.

And more than 60 percent of these proxy votes are controlled by three individuals.

The Sail’s management corporation had declined to comment when contacted by Channel NewsAsia.

One sticking point is that any upgrading plans could be voted down by the majority proxy holders.

The Association of Management Corporations in Singapore said it gets three to four calls a week seeking help on proxy issues.

The association counts the management corporations of over 300 condos as its members.

Presently, there’s no restriction on the number of proxies a person can hold.

Jimmie Ling, Chief Executive, Association of Management Corporations in Singapore, said: “How do we cap proxies so that it doesn’t get out of hand? There will be changes made, there will be restrictions put, and we’re all waiting for it to happen. That was what we were told during the last review in July 2012, and it will either be capped by numbers of proxies that one can hold, or percentages.”

But experts say the problem of proxy votes could be here to stay as there are more “absentee owners” who buy property for investment and do not actually live there.

Nicholas Mak, Executive Director, SLP International Property Consultants, said: “The authorities could review existing rules, refine it, so that the rules can better reflect owner-occupiers and other stakeholders.”

With 60,000 private residential units expected to be completed in the next three years, experts warn that condo disputes could be on the rise.

Separately, home owners at The Coast at Sentosa Cove are suing developer Ho Bee Cove, a unit of Ho Bee Investment for alleged defects on the property.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 13 Sep 2013

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