For just one family, an en bloc shock

One by one, her neighbours started moving out of the 39-unit condominium at Surrey Road and by Tuesday last week, the Gans were the only ones left — and left without a clue.

“We have had neighbours moving out since March and a kind neighbour told us that the deadline to move out was April 10. I was shocked. I had not been notified if (the en bloc sale proposal) was successful or not,” Mrs Gan Beng Cheng, who is in her 40s, told Today.

A few days after the deadline, a photocopied notice went up on the building: It was a letter of appointment to demolish Lincolnsvale, which is more than 20 years old.

Foreign workers also appeared on the premises moving furniture, clothes and even a washing machine into a big heap — items left behind by the departing residents.

Mrs Gan, a former business development and marketing manager, suffered sleepless nights. She called in the police twice — the most recent time being yesterday — to stop what she said was trespass into private property.

She also alleged that her family – which was one of about six households that did not agree to the en bloc proposal — had neither been consulted nor notified officially.

In fact, the homemaker said her attempts to find out more about the sale process — including the selling price, as well as how the lawyer and property agent representing the residents were selected — were rebuffed, with much hostility, by the building’s management corporation. “The sale was conducted in an abusive manner,” she said.

Mrs Gan, who called the MediaCorp Hotline, expressed surprise when told by Today that Sim Lian Land had bought Lincolnsvale, as well as an adjoining 1,802-sq-ft strip of land, to develop a 90-unit condominium — a fact that was published in a newspaper report in Nov 2005. It was reported that the property group bought Lincolnsvale for $50.53 million — more than the $49-million asking price. This worked out to $511 per sq ft per plot ratio. Under this evaluation, the Gans would have got between $1.27 million and $1.48 million for their apartment.

Phang & Co, the law firm which acted for the estate’s sales committee, told Today that most owners had followed due process, including placing advertisements in the newspapers of all four official languages, to indicate that they were applying to the Strata Titles Board (STB) for the sale to go through.

Notices were also sent to the minority owners, including the Gan family, said the firm’s head, Dr S K Phang, but they did not sign the transfer documents. The STB then authorised representatives to sign on their behalf, he said.

Sim Lian Land’s executive director Diana Kuik told Today that her firm went on to complete the sale in October last year after the STB had approved it. The owners were given the deadline to move out by last Tuesday. Four families missed the deadline, but moved out the next day. The Gans stayed put.

Ms Kuik added that the company would be asking the family to vacate. “If they don’t move out, then the only recourse for us is to get an eviction order.”

Nevertheless, Dr Phang said all parties were trying to solve the matter in the most amicable way. “Hopefully, Mr and Mrs Gan will reciprocate the goodwill,” he said.

Source: Today, 18 April 2007

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