HDB needs power to enter flats

The Housing Board should be given the power to enter a flat if repair work needs to be carried out, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday.

This is important in cases of leaks from the ceiling, in which neighbours must cooperate. "We need to do more to help our residents who are inconvenienced by their neighbours who refuse to cooperate," Mr Khaw wrote in a blog post.

"Minimally, HDB should be given the power to enter the flat for the purpose of carrying out the necessary investigations and repairs. We will need to amend the legislation to empower the HDB to do so."

Each year, some 2,800 cases, or 30 per cent of those involving ceiling leaks, take more than three months to resolve because of uncooperative neighbours.

Ceiling leaks make up quarter of complaints

"In some rare cases, the resolution of the ceiling leak problem could take more than a year. This is just not satisfactory," Mr Khaw wrote, adding that in the majority of cases, repair works such as waterproofing have to be done within the upper-storey units.

"This delays the repair unnecessarily and meanwhile, the lower-floor residents suffer the inconveniences," he wrote.

About a quarter of the complaints that HDB receives concern ceiling leaks.

Mr Khaw also pointed out that the HDB's Goodwill Repair Assistance scheme, which helps residents with subsidised repairs, has benefited 140,000 households since it was introduced in 2001.

Under the scheme, the HDB bears 50 per cent of the repair costs, with the other half shared equally by upper- and lower-storey flat owners.

On average, flat owners pay about $180 for each ceiling leak repair, The Straits Times reported on its website.