Singapore

Two-hour shouting match between seller and buyer in HDB sale dispute

Man returns to former flat, shouting match ensues, new owner advised not to open door to prevent him from barging in. He says...

After the previous owners were jailed, she thought she could finally move into the flat that she had bought five years ago.

But there is still no respite for Madam Herni Fadhillah Saad, 40, because one of the former owners returned to claim the flat after his release from prison.

Mr Lim Teck Choon, 59, and his wife, Madam Tan Poh Lee, were jailed for contempt of court after they defied court orders to vacate the flat.

They were released from prison on Thursday evening.

When Madam Herni went to the four-room flat in Bedok South Road at 10pm that evening, she was shocked to see Mr Lim standing in front of the door at the common corridor.

Madam Herni told The New Paper yesterday: "When I asked him why he was there, he started shouting, insisting that it is his home."

A shouting match ensued and lasted about two hours. Neighbours came out to look at the commotion, but no one intervened, she said.

Madam Herni told him to go back to his rental flat in Bedok South Avenue 2, just a few blocks away. But he refused, so she called the police.

She said: "Police advised me to leave and come back another day. They anticipated that if I open the door, the uncle will barge in and refuse to leave. It will be more troublesome later."

She added: "I obliged. But in my heart I was thinking: How long is this going to happen? You mean every time I go there, he will be there, too? Then I have to call the police? When can I actually go in?"

Madam Herni said she had gone there with her sister and her sister's boyfriend to check out the flat as they planned to clean up the place over the weekend.

A neighbour, who declined to be named, said she saw four policemen at the lift landing when she returned home at about 8.30pm.

Mr Lim was sitting outside the flat.

Another neighbour living a floor below, Madam Png Ah Hock, 75, said she heard shouting coming from upstairs at about 10pm.

FIERCE

"The shouting was very loud and they sounded very fierce," she said in Mandarin.

"I didn't go and take a look because I was so frightened. I stayed at home. I was too scared to open the door."

When TNP went there close to midnight, Mr Lim was sitting forlornly outside the flat.

He was alone and his eyes were closed.

Court papers were seen plastered on the door.

When TNP left at 1am, Mr Lim had not stirred from his position.

In an interview yesterday, he said that his rental flat was unliveable because all his belongings from his former flat had been moved into the one-room rental flat.

Mr Lim then decided to go to his old flat to wash up, but found that the locks had been changed.

He said he left at 3am when he could no longer stand the cold at the common corridor.

With nowhere to go, he loitered at the market nearby until his older brother went to help him clear some space in his rental flat.

Mr Lim said in Mandarin: "They moved all my things here and there is no place to walk. There is also no water and electricity. How do I live here?

"I told my son to take my wife to his home. If I can't even settle myself, how can I take care of her?"

Mr Lim said officers from Singapore Power and PUB would be activating his utilities today.

Though still aggrieved at having to vacate his previous home, Mr Lim said he will live in the rental flat with his wife once all the problems have been sorted out.

When asked if he would go back to his former flat again, he said he just wanted to retrieve a wall fan that had been left behind.

He said his most pressing concern is the sale proceeds for his former flat, which he claims he has yet to receive.

Mr Lim, who said he has end-stage nose cancer, added: "Without money, how do I survive? I still need to pay for doctor's appointments and medicine."

Madam Herni plans to return to the flat on Sunday to see if the coast is clear.

"I am worried about my children's and my safety. I want to move in peacefully," she said.

Owner's 5-year wait for flat

Mr Lim Teck Choon, 59, and his wife, Madam Tan Poh Lee, were jailed for contempt of court on Tuesday after defying court orders to vacate their former flat at Bedok South Road.

They agreed to sell it to Madam Herni Fadhillah Saad, 40, in 2010. But the sale was stuck in an ensuing five-year dispute.

On Tuesday, Madam Herni's lawyer, Mr Mohamed Ibrahim Mohamed Yakub, applied for the couple to be jailed so he could arrange for the flat to be vacated.

The couple were released on Thursday.

Court papers show that Madam Herni paid a $5,000 deposit and signed an option to purchase the flat in August 2010.

HDB then cancelled the resale application after she failed to pay the down payment of $32,000 by the due date.

But it later reinstated the application after she successfully applied for a bank loan. By then, Mr Lim no longer wanted to sell the flat to her and insisted on forfeiting the deposit.

Madam Herni sued the couple in October 2011. In 2013, the Supreme Court ordered the sale and purchase to be completed within three months from Nov 7. But Mr Lim and his wife refused to comply.

Madam Herni returned to court in 2014 and the sale was legally completed on Dec 26 that year.

The court ordered the couple to vacate the flat but they still would not budge despite attempts by court bailiffs to evict them.

In court, Mr Lim said he had not signed the option to purchase agreement and alleged that his property agent did not have a licence and had forged his signature.

Lawyers: Not a crime to loiter in corridor

Mr Lim Teck Choon was not committing any offence by sitting outside his former flat in Bedok South Road on Thursday, lawyers told The New Paper.

He had been embroiled in a five-year dispute with Madam Herni Fadhillah Saad over the resale of the four-room flat to her.

He confirmed yesterday that he had ignored advice from the police at about 9pm on Thursday to leave.

Criminal lawyer Amarick Gill said he did not see any offence as the common corridor is a public area.

"If he wants to squat there, you can report him for loitering, but you can't really go for trespass because he did not enter the home," he said.

Mr Gill added that if Mr Lim had barged into the flat should Madam Herni have opened the door, it would have been a different story.

"I think that will be more than trespass. Depending on how she feels, it can be criminal intimidation. It depends on the fear factor."

HARASSMENT

Lawyer Luke Lee said Mr Lim's actions could amount to harassment depending on the situation.

He said: "If he isn't obstructing anyone, I don't see anything that is actionable against him.

"But at some point, he can become a public nuisance and the police should have opportunity to remove him from the scene."

Mr Lee said if Mr Lim kept going back to the flat, that would be considered harassment.

"Unfortunately, harassment is something the police can't help with, you have to go to court to get an order," he said.

Both lawyers said Madam Herni's best course of action would be to call the police if a similar incident were to recur.

Mr Gill said it would not be possible to obtain a restraining order because Mr Lim has not committed any offence.

"You can't jump the gun. It doesn't work like that."

He added: "My advice is tell her to put the police on speed dial. What she should also do is install a surveillance camera."

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