Water leakage a big issue among home owners, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Water leakage a big issue among home owners

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More than six out of every 10 applications filed before the Strata Titles Board (STB) in the last three years involved water leakage issues between unit owners, said the Ministry of National Development (MND).

The figure has remained consistent the past three years, said MND, responding to queries from The Straits Times.

The board received 289 applications altogether between 2014 and last year, including 188 cases of water leakage, with disputes involving owners and management councils forming all but five of the remaining 101 cases.

An MND spokesman said the STB received an average of 96 cases annually in the last three years.

"The nature of these cases can be broadly categorised into issues relating to water leakage, MCST (Management Corporation Strata Title) disputes and en bloc sales," she added.

The STB's role is to mediate and hear applications involving unit owners and management corporations of strata-titled properties, such as condominiums, or certain spats between such unit owners, among other things.

On top of disputes involving inter-floor water leakage, other examples include resolving differences in relation to by-laws of a particular condo, convening a general meeting or nullifying a resolution.

STB also hears applications for collective sales.

Industry players said the high figures involving water leakage disputes come from ageing buildings and the provisions of the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act (BMSMA) in relation to leakages.

Mr Lim Tat, honorary legal adviser to the Association of Strata Managers, said there is a presumption that works in favour of the affected owner under the BMSMA in filing claims for water seepage.

Under the Act, the defect is presumed to be caused by the strata lot or common property situated immediately above the affected unit, where there is evidence of dampness, moisture or water penetration, said Mr Lim.

"But the responding unit owner can rebut this statutory presumption by engaging an expert to probe the cause.

"If shown that the cause of the seepage did not come from his unit, then the burden of proof falls on the applicant owner of the affected lot to prove the source," he said.

As buildings age, water-proofing membranes fail and water seepage occurs.

Mr Lim said that while common property is maintained regularly by the MCST, the same cannot be said for strata lots owned by individuals.

"Given the above, I suspect that we will continue to see an uptrend in the number of cases affecting strata lot owners, as there is currently no legal requirement for owners to conduct periodic audits on the state of their units," he said.