Singapore

Condo must pay unit owners $85,000 after false ceiling collapses

A condominium's management corporation (MC) has been held liable for the false ceiling of a penthouse collapsing, owing to the weight of spalling concrete that accumulated on it, and was ordered to pay its owners $85,000 in damages, costs and disbursements.

The Strata Titles Board (STB) also ordered the MC of Mandalay Mansion, off Balestier Road, to repair the damage in the penthouse at its own cost.

In addition, the MC has to hire a contractor registered with the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) to do it and a qualified person has to prescribe the repairs as well as certify their completion.

The board gave the orders in decision grounds issued last month.

The incident that led to the case took place in August 2018, when a part of the false ceiling in Madam Edna Kong's second living room collapsed together with the spalling concrete.

Three people were injured and the police, ambulance and the BCA were called.

The next month, the BCA issued a notice to maintain that required both parties to conduct inspections and report their findings and recommendations to the BCA.

Both parties separately appointed engineers to undertake the tasks.

As matters moved on, they could not settle the dispute on who was liable for the collapse and Madam Kong, represented by lawyer Jeffrey Beh, applied to the STB last May, seeking to hold the MC liable for repair and damages.

The engineer she engaged had concluded that the most probable cause of the spalling concrete was the entrance of moisture owing to ineffective waterproofing of the roof, which was common property and part of the MC's duty to maintain.

The MC blamed the unit owner for the collapse, saying Madam Kong failed to address the issue of spalling concrete from the false ceiling installed by the previous owner, when she carried out works on the penthouse in 2012.

The MC's lawyer Foo Maw Shen further argued, among other things, that the current false ceiling was not properly installed. That worsened the spalling concrete issue and led to the ceiling's collapse.

The STB, after considering the submissions and hearings, found there was evidence of moisture present in the concrete roof slab located immediately above Madam Kong's living room, which had the false ceiling structure.

It held the MC liable since the defect was from the roof slab.

It further ordered the MC to pay $1,200 in STB fees for four arbitration hearings held last year and to reimburse the $500 application fee and costs of transcription services to Madam Kong.

COURT & CRIME