Why should HDB lessees subsidise HDB Board for spalling concrete and ceiling leakage?

By: Phillip Ang

I refer to “Concrete solution to a concrete problem”.

The ST article mentioned that last week’s case of falling concrete in a Yishun HDB flat “was not an isolated one”.  This is because, over the past 3 years, there were about 6000 per year.

HDB should therefore have been pro active and inspected all older flats.  Instead, it seems to be awaiting an accident, probably another fatality, before taking meaningful action.

This issue is similar to all HDB lifts going berserk for some time and undergoing a thorough inspection only after numerous injuries and a fatality.

Expectedly, the ST article went on to sing praises of the government and claimed that HDB has ‘helped’ about 17,800 households in the past 3 years alone. The total number of cases is likely to be much higher.

HDB lessees are assisted by the Goodwill Repair Assistance (GRA) scheme implemented in 2001.  This of course means there could possibly be tens of thousands of cases over more than a decade.

As has been mentioned numerous times, HDB flats do not belong to buyers: we are only lessees as per HDB legal documents.

As the legal owner of all HDB flats, HDB Board should bear total repair costs. Instead, lessess are forced to subsidise HDB Board for repairs on HDB flats which don’t belong to us.

(Under the GRA, HDB and affected lessees will split equally the cost of repairs for ceiling leaks and spalling concrete.)  .

This is also a structural issue and has nothing to do with improper maintenance.  Flats were constructed by HDB Board whose contractors probably did not follow proper processes or had used inferior building materials.

Since this issue has not affected private apartments on such a massive scale as HDB flats, doesn’t it also confirm that structural defects were caused by HDB contractors?

HDB was obviously aware of this issue when it implemented HIP (Home Improvement Programme) in 2007 for flats built before 1986 which have not undergone MUP.  HIP’s main objective is to prevent spalling concrete and ceiling leaks.

A 5-year record of 200,000 HDB fats were constructed between 1981 and 1985.  Since the supply of skilled labour is inelastic, contractors could have employed unskilled labour, i.e. general workers without proper basic training.

There was probably no proper oversight by supervisors/no supervisors. Corners were obviously cut to save on costs, e.g.  using inferior waterproofing membrane, waterproofing preparation not properly carried out, insufficient coats, etc.

It makes no sense for HDB lessees – non owners of HDB flats – to be forced to share repair costs with HDB Board which is the real owner of ALL HDB flats.

Since spalling concrete and ceiling leakage are structural issues, this has nothing to do with improper maintenance by HDB lessees. Why should HDB lessees subsidise HDB Board for its construction screw ups?

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