Laws were passed in Parliament on 13 April to empower Housing and Development Board (HDB) officers to enter flats and carry out repair works without permission from the owners. Uncooperative owners will be given 24 hours’ notice and a court warrant is not necessary if there is imminent danger to the public.
According to local media, there are cases where such intervention is necessary. Two years ago, HDB officers had to enter a Bishan flat for emergency repairs after the house owner removed part of the structural column during renovations. The owner did not apply for a renovation permit from HDB. The incident was alerted by a concerned neighbour. Additionally, the new law would also deal with cases where owners refuse to cooperate in carrying out repairs for ceiling leaks.
When I read about this news, I was concerned about the abuse of this power. What if someone impersonated as a HDB officer and is able to access our homes with ease or what if I am left with a huge repair bill after the renovation works were done and it is not even my fault (i.e. It’s the neighbour’s works that has affected my unit).
Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee assured that the laws will be used as a last resort, after exhausting all avenues to get the owners cooperation. The law sounds good on paper but we will have to see if it needs to be tweaked to include the challenges on the ground.
The government recognise that some issues will never be solved if it’s left between neighbours. The government is just trying to make your lives better by providing you with a safe and secure home.
I think we should give this Bill a chance. At the very least, I won’t come back to a flooded house because of the leaking roof.