Complete Property Market Updates of Singapore

March 26, 2008

Some HDB residents unhappy despite freeze on S&C charges

Filed under: General — Propertymarketupdates @ 12:06 am

They feel rates are too high compared with charges for condo residents

THE 14 town councils under the People’s Action Party are all freezing their service and conservancy (S&C) rates, but some HDB residents still feel the charges are too high.

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Mr Richard Lim, 42, lives in a five-room flat in Pasir Ris, but pays more for parking and maintenance charges than some condominium residents.

The accountant pays $163.50 a month: $90 for parking and $73.50 in S&C fees.

What residents in private estates pay can go as low as $150, a check with 10 condominiums found.

Mr Lim said: ‘My friend who lives in a similar-size unit in a Bishan condo pays $200 and he gets so many more facilities.’

Writing to The Straits Times Forum recently, he asked why, despite fewer perks, HDB residents pay more than some condo residents: ‘Are they overcharging residents or are they not giving enough value for the amount we pay?’

His letter ignited discussions in at least three online forums, with many asking why S&C charges for HDB flats were only a little lower than those for private estates.

In Parliament last month, Dr Teo Ho Pin, coordinating chairman of the PAP town councils, announced there will be no hike in their S&C charges this year.

The move is in response to Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s call recently for them to follow the Government’s lead in freezing fees for its services.

S&C rates for Singaporeans living in public housing can range from $18.50 for a one-room HDB flat to $61.50 for a five-room unit. Non-Singaporeans pay up to $30 more.

S&C charges in HDB estates are collected by the town councils and go towards cleaning, grass cutting, lift maintenance and upkeep of common areas. Costs for cyclical work such as re-painting are also taken from this kitty.

A public housing resident who owns a car has to pay between $65 and $90 for a parking spot. This, according to HDB residents, is what causes the overall charge to rocket.

Parking charges are collected by the HDB which maintains the carparks.

In a Forum letter replying to Mr Lim, the HDB explained that, unlike private property, HDB parking spaces are not included in the selling price of the flat.

It said: ‘HDB parking charges are aimed at recovering the cost of providing and maintaining the carparks and help regulate demand so residents need not compete with visitors for lots.’

Mr Lim is now looking for a condo unit since the charges are not that much higher and he can enjoy condo facilities such as a swimming pool, clubhouse, playground, barbecue pit, gym, carpark and security for just a bit more.

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Most condos charge a monthly fee of about $250, although some, like Ardmore Park near Orchard Road, can go as high as $1,250.

Those which charge below $200 include Normanton Park, Gillman Heights, Farrer Court and The Warren.

Condos usually collect money for a sinking fund, which is used for major repairs and improvements to the estate such as lift upgrading and re-painting.

Dr Teo, MP for Bukit Panjang, assured HDB residents that what they pay in S&C fees is ‘definitely value for money’.

‘We’ve many more covered linkways than condos and also amphitheatres and playgrounds,’ he said.

He added that the Government gives a grant every year to top up the S&C fund, making major projects like lift upgrading affordable.

Mr Charles Chong, an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, said charges for condos are higher than for HDB units because condo residents pay more upfront when they buy their homes.

‘Besides, condos could also ask residents to fork out lump sums for major repairs when the sinking fund isn’t fat enough,’ he said.

Ms Eleana Teo, a director at Knight Frank Estate Management, said condos with more units can enjoy economies of scale and charge more affordable fees.

At Farrer Court, near Holland Road, which has 618 units, administration officer Mary Teo, 58, said the $160 a month she pays is ‘very low’.

‘We get our own jogging track, tennis courts and gym, and I’m paying less than some HDB residents,’ said the owner of a 1,500 sq ft unit.

Information technology specialist David Seah, 30, who lives in a five-room flat in Jurong West, agreed S&C and parking fees for bigger HDB units can add up to a hefty sum.

He pays $153 a month – $63 in S&C fees and $90 for parking.

‘The S&C charges for smaller flats are much lower and I think it’s fair,’ he said.

Mr Simon Chua, 34, owner of a four-room Bukit Batok HDB flat who pays $138 in monthly charges, has no complaints.

‘We never have to worry about having to fork out extra money for major upgrading work. I think we are well taken care of for the money we pay,’ he said.

TOO MUCH FOR HDB

‘My friend who lives in a similar- size unit in a Bishan condo pays $200 and he gets so many more facilities.’ -ACCOUNTANT RICHARD LIM, who lives in a five-room flat in Pasir Ris and pays $163.50 a month: $90 for parking and $73.50 for S&C fees

NO COMPLAINTS

‘We never have to worry about having to fork out extra money for major upgrading work. I think we are well taken care of for the money we pay.’ -MR SIMON CHUA, owner of a four-room Bukit Batok flat who pays $138 in monthly charges

LOW FEES FOR CONDO

‘We get our own jogging track, tennis courts and gym, and I’m paying less than some HDB residents.’ -ADMINISTRATION OFFICER MARY TEO, who lives in a 1,500 sq ft unit in Farrer Court near Holland Road. She pays $160 a month in charges.

Source : Straits Times – 17 Mar 2008

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